Spring Concert – 12 March 2016

Ilkley & Otley Choral Societies

Yet again, St Margaret’s in Ilkley was the venue for the Ilkley & Otley Choral Societies’ Spring Concert on 12 March. The programme comprised mainly well known works such that audience and performers were in their comfort zone; certainly not complacent – the choirs were very much on their mettle.

So where do we start? The Coronation Anthem, Zadok the Priest is a faithful work, well known to all and where would we be without Handel and George II? Probably bereft of monarchs as the work has been included in every coronation for almost 300 years. We were not short-changed by the performance. Under the competent baton of Barry Jordan, the choir did not leave us wanting. They were on song, on the beat and in tune. Hey, what a start!

The next item in the programme featured baritone soloist, David Cane with the aria from Samson ‘The Glorious Deeds’ (Handel) whose rendition was well controlled with sympathetic expression and a pleasant timbre. This was followed by the tenor (Matt Mears) recit and aria “tis noon. Distressful nature fainting sinks”; the soloist’s skills appearing effortless as he was well equipped to resound throughout St Margaret’s Church with tonal accuracy.

The first half ended with the Vivaldi Gloria. Clearly well rehearsed and yes, so well known that most of the choir were able to watch the conductor most of the time ----- which helps! ‘Et in terra pax’ was slightly disappointing as there were some minor glitches in tone being, occasionally, under pitch in the upper registers. The beautiful duet in ‘Laudamus te’ was a joy as the soprano (Teng Xiang Ting) and mezzo (Rhiain Taylor) complemented each other in a glorious rendition of this movement. The remainder of the Gloria was excellent from choir and soloists – and from the trumpet of Geoffrey Cloke without which, the audience would be lacking that je ne sais quoi.

After the interval, the second half started with another Coronation Anthem, Let thy Hand be strengthened another of Handel’s works for George II’s special bash in 1727. This is rarely performed; if I have heard it before, then my memory has failed me – but I would like to hear it again for the lovely harmonies and the richness of tone, particularly in the upper registers.

Christopher Rathbone (organist at St Margaret’s) then played the Allegretto from Bach’s Sonata in A.

The concert ended with Haydn’s Nelson Mass. Now this is a big sing by most standards but hey, we were not short-changed by I & O’s offering. They were safe and positive in all movements and their subdued soft tones (seated) responding to the solo in Miserere Nobis demonstrated total empathy with the movement. All four soloists, notwithstanding their tender years offered tremendous value for money and I cannot leave this review without a further mention of Teng Xiang Ting whose performance was to a standard befitting a consummate professional as she soared effortlessly through the demanding runs reaching dizzy heights.

Never attended an Ilkley & Otley concert? Then it’s high time you did.

  Peter Harrison                                                                              Ilkley Gazette 24th March 2016