'I want you to sing Haydn's 'Creation' from memory' were among the first words YPC conductor 'Andrew Padmore' said to the choir as they returned to rehearsals after the summer break.
In the ensuing 11 weeks the YPC not only achieved that but then, on 19 November 2016, they gave a towering performance of the work in Wakefield Cathedral such that audience and,(yes), orchestra alike rose in a sustained ovation for what some said was the finest performance of the work they had ever experienced.
Freed from the encumbrance of copies and folders the choir sang with freedom and watchfulness and with a sound which travelled unhindered into the thrilling space of the newly refurbished Cathedral. There was real engagement between choir and audience, so often dulled when eyes sometimes drop to copies. Although not every work from this point on will be similarly performed, the YPC have determined to maintain this ideal, having surprised themselves and definitely convincing any initial detractors of the astounding benefit both to the performance of a work but also of the added confidence it brings to each member as well as the ensemble.
The work often requires soloists and choir to inter-react as well as featuring them in solo and soli format or, as in the famed 'Adam and Eve' a sustained duet between Bass and Soprano soloist. Sarah Power, Miles Taylor performing this superbly, with the expected demure 'flirting', always a section to make an audience smile.
Sarah's apparent ease of performance, her crystal clear voice coupled with her obvious joy of singing the part both charmed and held the audience enraptured each time she rose to sing. The young bass, Miles Taylor, whose part throughout the work is probably the more substantial of the three, gave an authoritative performance where required but was then able to turn to his more 'gentle' side as the various sections and characters require. His assurance and tone throughout were second to none, surely a young performer destined for a great career. All credit must go to Andrew Padmore and the YPC for bringing forward such new talent onto the concert platform.
Mild panic had ensued only 24 hours before the event when tenor Ravi Popoff came down with an illness which would prevent him travelling and performing. How very fortunate then that Ben Thapa just happened to be on 'standby' for another work elsewhere in the country but had been stood down due to the recovery of the original participant. How fortunate too that he is an 'old friend' of the YPC, loves to perform with them and was on the end of telephone when the desperate plea came. Ben showed absolutely no signs of the lateness of the call or of the rather eventful journey he then had from Cardiff to Wakefield on the day of the concert. His stunning voice and dramatic personae meant that his roles were performed with strength and the overall performance lacked nothing from the initial setback.
The Amici Ensemble, in numbers required to reflect Haydn's full orchestration, were at the very top of their game in every department. The ensemble was tight and sympathetic to the vocals at all times and the virtuosity of individual instrumentalists shone through in some quite exposed and challenging sections.
The performance of 'Creation' is the first of 2 major oratorio works being featured this season by the YPC, with Mendelssohn's 'Elijah' being performed on 8 April 2017. The 2 works are quite different with different challenges for all, but, if we set this performance as the mark, one would be foolish not to want to experience what the YPC and its guests will achieve with 'Elijah'.
Tickets for Elijah are already available through the box office on this website.