Messiah Performance 13 May 2017

Once again the choir gave a stunning performance of Handel's 'Messiah' in St Mary's church, Richmond. Edward had picked four soloists that he had worked with in the past, soprano Hannah Grove, counter-tenor Michael Ash, tenor Toby Ward and bass D'Arcy Bleiker. 

The orchestra, advertised as the Richmondshire Baroque, was made up of players from the renowned, Ripon-based Mowbray Orchestra plus a student of Edward's, Alexander Peach on the timpani.

A small staging crew arrived on Saturday morning to erect the staging and spent the next two hours getting it all set up. It was a tight squeeze to get a larger than usual choir, and the orchestra into the very limited space available and parts of the church normally available for us to use were unavailable this time due to the work on the bells and the imminent Green Howards service. Our staging is like a three dimensional jig-saw puzzle but is easy to erect once you are used to it and know how and why all the bits fit together. it also is very stable to stand on and  looks like permanent staging once in place.

The afternoon rehearsal soon demonstrated how well the choir had been rehearsed by Edward and the orchestra was as good as we had been lead to believe. Our thanks must go to Jane Lomax who recruited the players for us and obviously knew exactly what we needed.

There was a bit of a drawback to the proceedings in that the cunductor's music stand kept sliding slowly down from the height at which Edward set it and finally had to be rectified during the concert interval with a large piece of sticky tape. How fortunate to be able to find one at that time!

Contrary to our earlier misgivings that tickets were not selling well, there was almost a full house in the church and people had obviously been looking forward to this performance. Hannah Grove's soprano solos were stunning - and her young daughter was there to hear her. Michael Ash made a welcome return to the choir but this time as a counter-tenor solo rather than a member of the bass section. The alto part in Messiah can sound gorgeous sung by a good counter-tenor and Michael was brilliant with some fascinating and exciting Baroque embellishments where appropriate. Toby Ward was delighted to be back in Yorkshire and sang the tenor solos with grace so that from the opening recitative everyone knew this was another performance to remember. D'Arcy Bleiker brought an operatic touch to the bass solos and filled the church with a powerful but not over-bearing voice.

At the end of the concert the soloists were presented not with flowers, but with specially made mugs featuring a picture of St Mary's and the concert poster with some lovely chocolates in them to add a bit of decoration. 

Then there was the clearring up to be done. The staging team got back to work andby 11.30pm the church was spick and span and the only thing that betrayed our having been there was the huge pile of timber tucked in a corner ready to be picked up by Dowse, the removals company who so generously help us with the storage and transport of this of our staging. 

Another wonderful performance of one of the greatest choral works of all time. If we stick with our current policy, the next one to look forward to will be in the Spring of 2021.

At Christmas we return to Bach, Schubert and our own resident composer, Mark Harrison. See details on our other pages.

 

 

 

 


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