Absolutely Buzzin' Not necessarily a usual comment following a classical music concert, but the Partnership Concert between The YPC and Leeds College of Music on Saturday 19th March in The Venue, Leeds, was no ordinary Classical concert, in fact it featured the best of what could be termed Choral Jazz.
The first half began with Bob Chilcott's little jewel of the genre 'A Little Jazz Mass' with the choir masterfully negotiating the 7 swift movements, each with its own distinct style. A Jazz trio featuring Tom Moore on piano with LCoM musicians Will Stockbridge (bass) and Josh Smout (drums) provided the accompaniment, which sometimes needs a real drive and groove whilst other a soft bluesy feel, which they provided to perfection, getting the evening of to a fabulous start.
The remainder of the first half showcased the LCoM current undergraduate musicians in 2 Jazz combos fronted by two young singers who are surely destined for a bright future, Alzbeta Turcanyiova and Jemma Freese. In two distinctive vocal styles they presented four works:
Lush Life by Billy Strayhorn
Nostalgia for Times Square by Charles Mingus
Blue in Green by Bill Evans
Berfsha Swing by Thelonius Monk
Accompanied by Will and Josh plus the added talents of Joe Boyes on piano these were received with the traditional 'whoops and cheers' as well as sustained applause from a captivated audience.
The second half featured just one 'tour de force' - Will Todd's 'Mass in Blue' with the choir being joined by the LCoM Jazz band and the vocal expertise of Laura Barnes. This work is a test for any combination but under Andrew Padmore's skilful direction the forces blended in such a way as to thrill performers and audience alike. The work was commissioned in 2003 and hit off to a slow start, simply because it created challenges not previously approached in the choral world, but now it is loved and performed all over the world.
The demands placed on the choir are substantial, but even more so the Soprano soloist. For many years the composers own wife, Bethany Halliday, featured on almost all productions but we can safely say now that Laura Barnes has added herself to the short list of Sopranos with the distinctive vocal gifts necessary to perform the work. Her voice soared to the required top 'B's and C's but also dealt admirably with the low dark sound below the stave and the multiple jazz rhythms, intonation and riffs present throughout the work.
Laura was a former winner of the Margaret Markland Bursary, sponsored by the YPC at the Leeds College of Music, which is the reason behind these occasional musical partnership events. The Bursary allows 3 students per year to become members of the YPC to experience Choral Music at its best and adds to their musical credentials as they move on into a career in music. Laura is perfect proof of the benefit of the partnership the Bursary brings.
Although able to be performed with Jazz Trio, the work really comes alive with the full band and the LCoM Jazz Band played with an maturity well beyond their years and experience to raise the performance to the highest level.
The final climax of the work was followed by rapturous and sustained applause.
A great night and proof, as has been said previously, that the only distinction in music should simply be between good music and bad music.
The YPC's next concert is also a musical partnership, but this time with Harrogate Choral Society. The two famous choirs join together as 'Yorkshire Voices' to present Beethoven's 'Missa Solemnis' in the magnificent setting of Leeds Town Hall on Saturday 11 June 2016. Soloists are Sarah Fox, Melanie Marshall, Ben Thapa and David Soar with Manchester Camarata all under the baton on Andrew Padmore.
Tickets are now available from firstname.lastname@example.org or from The Carriageworks, Leeds.