Gledholt Male Voice Choir (GMVC) and their guests, The Brighouse and Rastrick Brass Band (BRBB) and Marsh Ladies Choir (MLC) pulled out all the stops to provide a rousing and well enjoyed concert in the magnificent setting of Huddersfield Town Hall. The acoustics of this hall lend themselves so well to this blend of voices and brass and on a well filled stage, this was the case for this concert. The stage was set with the spectacle of well-turned out performers and also adorned with the magnificent Champion Band of Great Britain trophy displayed by current holder, BRBB.
The programme was varied and enabled all the performers to show off their talents and they did so with some aplomb and using music composed as far back as the Renaissance period through to the present day. There was a rousing start with the National Anthem, which took some of the audience by surprise when they found themselves at odds with Elgar’s arrangement and out of kilter with the choirs and unable to join in. GMCV, conducted by Susan Wilkinson and accompanied by Jane Robertson, started off individual items with an arrangement of Mozart’s Gloria from the 12th Mass when there were good contrasts of sound and clear diction from the men who followed on with an emotive Schubert’s Sanctus from the German Mass which contrasted well and demonstrated good handling of loud and soft sections. A beautiful sound was created in the unison parts of Williams, Thou Wilt Keep Him in Perfect Peace. To conclude their first section the men sand Sweet Lass of Richmond Hill, demonstrating a sense of joviality in a fast moving arrangement by Walters that was ‘short and sweet’.
That’s Entertainment (Schwartz) was a well paced opening piece for MLC, with accompanist, Kim Kaye, and the ladies demonstrated beautifully clear diction and were in rapport with their conductor, Ian Abbott, who in their next piece, The Seal Lullaby (Whitacre) completely held control of this gentle piece, capturing the essence of the beautiful words written by Rudyard Kipling. In Cassey’s arrangement of Gershwin’s, They Can’t Take That Away From Me, the versatility of the ladies was demonstrated by the clearly enunciated, bright and bubbly texture of their voices which captured the essence of the piece.
With a massive and contrasting sound filling the hall, BRBB took us into the world of brass with Tarling’s fabulous arrangement of Rossini’s, Il Viaggio a Reims, the overture from the opera, beautifully interpreted by individual players and greatly appreciated by the audience. Woodfield’s, Russian Cavalry, a colourful depiction of a cavalry charge with all the drama of a battle was next and in this, as throughout the evening, David King kept an affectionate yet tight control of the Band which was evidenced in their skilful delivery of very different genre’s of music. The not so well-known, Four Renaissance Dances, at first soulful, almost orchestral, gentle swells harnessed the beautiful depth of sound which encompassed pavane-like structures and the drama of drum rolls and euphonium, showing that this band can be whatever it wants to be. At this concert it was fabulous.
To close the first half, all the performers, with Ian Abbot on the magnificent Town Hall Organ, joined together for a rousing and well-combined rendition of Handel’s, Zadok the Priest, and the concert resumed with all performing the ‘Old Hundredth’. Initially, the pace of this piece was very slow but interspersed with the sound of solo brass, it reached a resounding climax with the inclusion of full band accompaniment. GMVC seemed confident with Ride the Chariot (arr. Smith) and there were good contrasts between high and low sections, there was a sense of singers enjoyment of the piece.
MLC beautifully portrayed Seigfried Sassoon’s words in Wilsher’s composition of Everyone Suddenly Burst Out Singing and the whole choir showed empathy in a well controlled performance with very clear diction, evocative key changes and well sustained end notes. They followed this with Kern’s, popular, ‘Can’t Help Lovin’ That Man and completed their section with Emerson’s beautifully sung arrangement of You Raise Me Up with convincing sentiment from singers and with tight control from their conductor ensuring an uplifting finish.
Three wonderfully played Graham arrangements of Rameau’s Marche, Rondeau, La Joyeuse, Danse and Tambourin (1800’s music) followed in BRBB’s final section and featured solos from Soprano Cornet (Kevin Crockford) and Euphonium and demonstrated how well the band can portray light and dark moods. It was reflected in the performance of the band that conductor, David King, invoked enthusiasm and was deservedly proud of, and sought praise for, his musicians and the audience were enthusiastic in their response to these Renaissance pieces, The Red Novae (wonderful playing from Euphonium – David Thornton) and From Ancient Times ‘Homage’ when a resounding percussion section rounded off the section.
The Gledholt men in contrast, finished off with Impossible Dream, starting softly, building up their sound and producing some subtle key changes, diction was good and a good ending achieved. Finally to round off the evening, which had been well received, all performers joined together for Snell’s arrangement of Rogers & Hammerstein’s, You’ll Never Walk Alone.
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