The Diamond Decades
Wakefield Girls' High School
Saturday November 3rd
For those of us whose experience of the Yorkshire Philharmonic Choir usually involves it tackling a heavyweight choral work in the splendid setting of Wakefield Cathedral, this opening concert of its diamond jubilee year came as something of a culture shock.
The Jubilee Hall of Wakefield Girls' High School is, when all is said and done, simply an assembly hall and, likewise, the school's organ hardly compares with its counterpart in the cathedral.
Nevertheless, despite this- and a programme comprised mainly of short choruses rather than full works - the inherent qualities of the Phil' shone through as it performed a retrospective selection of pieces it had first sung during each decade since its formation as the Old Thornesians choir back in 1953.
The emphasis was on the well-known, rather than the new or experimental material for which the choir has established a reputation, but despite - or perhaps because of - this, the singers set about their task with a visible relish which resulted in any number of memorable passages of music.
The great strength of the Phil', which was apparent throughout this evening, is its mastery of the light and shade within a piece of music: its ability to display the deftest of touches or soar to the most resounding of crescendos with a flick of Andrew Padmore's baton.
Highlights of the evening were many and varied but none more so than a pair of Faure pieces, In Paradisum and Contique De Jean Racine, while Mozart's Lacrymosa and David Fanshawe's arrangement of The Lords Prayer from his African Sanctus showed the subtlety and control of the choir to memorable effect.
With a light-hearted introduction to the main events and music of each period - and even a fashion show of some of the dresses worn by the ladies over the years - this was a fine occasion to start a landmark year for a choir which continues to improve with age.
Wakefield Express November 2012