Verdi’s Requiem  

12 May 2018

Otley and Ilkley Choral Societies  

The concert began with the Leeds Symphony Orchestras playing the Overture from The Sicilian Vespers. The beginning of the overture was hushed, yet with a feeling of excitement, silencing the packed audience at St Margaret’s Church, Ilkley. The piece was performed accurately and with passion, and was a suitable introductory piece for the rest of the evening. The brass section was overpowering at times, but other sections still had their time in the spotlight, for example the lyrical and expressive cello section.

The Requiem and Kyrie was a good beginning to the main item of the night. The chorus achieved a warm, full sound, even at very low volumes, and the strength of the tenor and bass sections was apparent from the outset. Although the four soloists were not as audible as they could have been, the voices blended well. Joseph Spratt, tenor, stood out especially in this first movement, his tone was pleasant, and high notes were reached with ease. David Bainbridge, bass-baritone, was solid throughout.

Heather Jane Lawton, soprano soloist, sung the top part of the Agnus Dei duet very well, a thick vibrato and a clear tone (yet remaining not shrill) helped her melodies to soar above the accompaniment. Mezzo soprano Joanna Gamble had a well-matched voice, but her strongest moment of the evening, in my opinion, was the Lux Eterna, her diction was noticeably very good and the three part a capella section meant there was no fighting to be heard over the orchestra.

A highlight was the famous Dies Irae. Martin Binks (conductor) led us through a superbly loud and exciting opening section which fills the large church easily, despite the surprisingly dry acoustic. The chorus went at it with gusto and force, and, whilst at times there could have been more volume, they navigated the tricky piece well, no doubt thanks to the musical director Yonni Levy.

The performance was well received, and, some balance issues apart, on the whole very well performed. The night was enjoyable and can be considered a success for the choral societies.

Theo Pedley

Review in Ilkley Gazette