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Season opener thrills Cathedral audience

Press: Classical review

A large and appreciative audience thoroughly enjoyed the Yorkshire Philharmonic Choir’s Season opener which featured music by two of this Country’s favourite choral composers, Bob Chilcott and John Rutter.

The evening opened with the choir singing 4 of John Rutter’s short but beautifully tuneful arrangements. I will sing with the Spirit has a lightness and joyful quality which the choir succeeded in transmitting. The composer’s through settings of the hymns All things Bright and Beautiful and For the Beauty of the Earth’ were rapturously received by an audience who were now almost all wearing a smile of contentment. Look at the World, a piece originally written to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the ‘Council for the Protection of Rural England’, completed the set with the choir emphasising the rise and fall of the dynamics allowing the listener to truly flow with the song’s sentiment.

The excellent Thomas Moore, accompanying on both organ and piano, now showed his superb versatility by becoming the pianist in a Jazz trio as the Choir sped into the thrilling but short ‘Little Jazz Mass’ by Bob Chilcott. This piece is rightly popular and instantly creates a foot tapping atmosphere with the Kyrie. Matthew Dabbs (drums) and Roz MacDonald (Double Bass) were the other two members of the accompanying combo, obviously skilled jazz interpreters, they sparkled as the tempos quickened, swung and slowed to ‘blues’. The choir amazingly changed instantly from the gentile Rutter to this rip roaring, New Orleans, inspired number and the half finished with lengthy applause and yet more smiles.

The second half brought a change of musicians adding flute, oboe, cello and harp to Tom Moore at the cathedral organ, for the ever popular ‘Requiem’ by John Rutter. This was in marked contrast to the first half. Sometimes dark and moody, other times soaring and tuneful and full of harmonic interest, the choir excelled in its presentation of Andrew Padmore’s moving interpretation of this intense, yet beautiful work.

Soprano Rhiannon McKeon stepped forward to sing the hauntingly lyrical solo in the Pie Jesu, which challenges the full vocal range. Yet her ease of style and the full tone quality of her voice was just the right approach. The audience visibly held its breath as she ascended , perfectly, to the high ‘A’ finish of the movement.

Mention must be made of the instrumentalists in this work where each is given solo passages as well as important contributions to the ensemble. George Kennaway’s Cello playing resonated around the cathedral in the testing solo in Out of the Deep and Elizabeth Kenwood’s oboe on the obligato throughout The Lord is my Shepherd was a joy to hear. Julia Breakspeare and Rhian Evans (Flute and Harp respectively) also shone through in some excellent interpretative playing.

Applause led to a calm encore, as the choir sang John Rutter's 'The Lord Bless you and keep you' a fitting conclusion to a lovely evening.

We have come to expect high quality from the Yorkshire ‘Phil. and this evening certainly lived up to all expectations.

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