Otley Parish Church

8 December 2018

A full Church was brought vibrantly into the Christmas season. The weather was appalling but Messiah stalwarts were not put off. Many present would know the production word for word. It has always been a Yorkshire tradition.

The Otley and Ilkley Choral Society choirs gave a wonderful, sincere rendition with the Yorkshire Chamber Ensemble conducted by Tom Newall. Robin Cook on harpsichord was superb. He played very subtly, not overwhelming the four soloists.

The soloists appeared courtesy of the Royal Northern College of Music, apart from Lucy Vallis. They each sang beautifully with every word clearly sung. Matt Mears, tenor, commenced by exhorting Comfort Ye my People and this set the standard. Matt related well to Tom Newall the conductor. The chorus, and then the baritone David Cane, then came in to confirm The Lord has spoken it and then again The Lord of Hosts will shake the heavens and earth. This was strong and rich by David Cane.

Lucy Vallis, mezzo soprano, sang with radiance, her voice ranged from deep chocolate to clear high notes. Oh thou that tellest, combined with the choirs, was so rich.

Then David Cane, bass combined well with the cellos and double bass and also bassoon telling of a Great Light and then again the choirs told the news A Child is born. Beautiful light notes with the conductor inspiring with his facial expression. Daniella Sicari, soprano brought us to the Shepherds Field - Fear Not. Daniella’s face shone as she sang. We rejoiced with her. Lucy Vallis, alto, joined Daniella to take on His Yoke and we were gathered gently with the Lambs.

The interval came rather abruptly due to a misunderstanding, however, this was managed well.

The mood then changed as we saw The Man of Sorrow, a balm was laid on us and we were healed.

The choruses and the tenor continued in grief superbly supported by the double bass, cellos and bassoon. Each of the soloists continued in turn flowing and with rich tone but the choir at one point seemed to struggle with the pace in Para 41 but was majestic in Hallelujah. The soprano Daniella sang I know with surety, conviction and richness.

The finale came with David Cane’s magnificent singing with the Trumpet. The trumpeter was faultless and it was lovely to see Matt Mears, tenor, acknowledge with a smile David’s fine performance.

The best production we have heard for a long time. It even produced goosegog moments.

Liz Wilson

In Ilkley Gazette