Saturday evening’s packed audience in Wakefield Cathedral was treated to a musical programme full of contrasts and variety, starting off with a trio of, variously, stirring and tender songs from the Yorkshire Philharmonic Choir (YPC); followed by two fabulous, electrifying, virtuoso drumming pieces from Backbeat percussion quartet. Both percussion pieces, Okavango and Gear Train, were written by Damien Harron, one of the members of Backbeat. Backbeat stunned the audience – this was percussion producing a remarkable variety of effects and demonstrating excitement, humour and huge musicianship.
Next came a feast of contrasting musical cameos in Bob Chilcott’s Songs and Cries of London Town and the concert concluded with Carl Orff's Carmina Burana, a series of medieval poems celebrating the joys of love, the tavern and the fickleness of fate. And having been soothed; enlivened; amused; enthralled and entertained, the audience showed their appreciation with a standing ovation.
The concert was a wonderful blend of music-making by talented amateurs and professionals. The YPC sang with careful attention to rhythm and clarity of diction, ensuring that the audience could enjoy the colourful descriptions of daily street life in the London of previous centuries in the Chilcott, and the wild, stirring rhythms of the Orff.
In both pieces the YPC were joined by the Richmond House School Choir whose beautiful voices bore witness to their talent and hard work in learning the pieces from memory. Victoria Lloyd, Director of Music at Richmond House, was responsible for the meticulous coaching of the school choir and the superb quality of their performance.
It was a big day for Victoria who retires this Summer. She will be a great loss to Richmond House, but every cloud has a silver lining – in September Victoria plans to sing as a member of the YPC.
On the professional ‘bench’, and the keys to the success of the whole performance, was the leadership of Dr Andrew Padmore, Conductor and Musical Director of the YPC, and Tom Moore, YPC accompanist and Musical Director of Wakefield Cathedral. As ever, Andrew sprinkled his magic dust over the whole performance, giving all of the musicians – the children of Richmond House; the YPC; Tom and Stephen Moore, accompanists; Backbeat and the soloists - the framework to perform to their utmost.
Astonishing piano duets of amazing delicacy and complexity were played by Tom Moore and Stephen Moore, Director of Music at Llandaff Cathedral, as part of the accompaniment to both the Chilcott and the Orff. Tom and Stephen performed as though the two pianos were a single instrument, being played by a single genius with four hands.
Alex Ashworth sang the bass solo parts in Carmina Burana. His voice was a wonderful revelation, as too was his presentation. He portrayed a love sick young man and a drunken abbot with total authenticity, his huge vocal range being deployed to fabulous effect. He convinced us all that as a drinker in the tavern he would be immovable, and as a love sick young man, of the turmoils of love.
The soprano parts were sung by Sarah Power. Sarah’s voice is effortlessly lovely, pure and clear. She captivated the audience. The ‘Swan’ – complete with white feather boa - was ‘played’ by Matthew Minter who sang the dark ‘Cignus Ustus Cantat’ (The Roast Swan) with humorous drama.
It was a wonderful evening of the finest music performed to a full house in the splendour of Wakefield Cathedral. Andrew demanded, and got, the very best from all performers – the YPC; Tom and Stephen; the Richmond House School Choir; Backbeat; Alex; Sarah and Matthew. As Aristotle (reputedly) said, ‘the whole is greater than the sum of its parts’ – on Saturday night this was demonstrated in full measure.
A wonderful evening – a winner for everyone!