Todmorden Choral Society’s Autumn concert opened with a rousing rendition of Finzi’s “God is gone up with a triumphant shout”.
Thus awoken, we were treated to a set of works by Bach for flute (Carisse White) and organ (Gary Hulme), and a beautifully precise performance of Vivaldi’s “Double Trumpet Concerto” (Tom Smaldon and Chris Lewis), writes Tim Benjamin.
Profound questions demand profound answers, and musical responses to conflict and slaughter include Britten’s “War Requiem”, Messiaen’s “Quartet for the End of Time”, and Penderecki’s horrifying “Threnody to the Victims of Hiroshima”. Perhaps the most profound answer may be found, however, in the simple act of a minute’s silence, as called for by conductor Antony Brannick before leading Karl Jenkins’ “The Armed Man: A Mass for Peace” after the interval.
The work has received a huge number of performances, clearly seizing the public imagination, and it is a great challenge for any choir to attempt such a well-known and technically demanding piece. It should be a source of civic pride, therefore, that Todmorden Choral Society delivered a sensational performance, even moving some to tears.
Remarkably, the solo passages normally given over to professionals were sung with considerable musicianship by the Society’s own soloists, most notably Catherine Morris and Emma Stafford.
The accompaniment featured virtuosic percussion (Chris Brannick, Geoff Kerr) and the famous “Benedictus” cello solo was soulfully rendered by David Leys.
The concluding words “Better is peace than always war” were movingly delivered with utterly convincing humanity.
It is with eager anticipation that I await the society’s performance next year of Mendelssohn’s “St Paul”.