TITLE: Huddersfield Choral Society, Brighouse and Rastrick Band and Huddersfield Choral Society Junior Choirs.
VENUE: Huddersfield Town Hall
BY: Val Javin
JOY To The World. It may be the title of a well-loved carol but as the opening item in this traditional mix of Christmas brass and voices, it seemed more a statement of intent.
And by the end of a packed concert programme, few would disagree that that is precisely what the Choral and its guests delivered.
The Choral’s impeccable diction, its warmth of tone and sheer muscular flexibility made it a joy to hear traditional pieces given a freshness by new arrangements, often by its chorus master Joseph Cullen who on this occasion was also both conductor and presenter – or by its organist Darius Battiwalla.
Who could resist the power and lyrical quality of Darius’ arrangement of O Holy Night or not be charmed by Joseph’s bright setting of The Holly And the Ivy to which the singers brought the lightest of touches.
There was real beauty too in a pair of unaccompanied part songs, Jesus Christ The Apple Tree and The Shepherds’ Cradle Song which showcased the Choral’s clarity and crisp control.
The decision for the senior choir to share the platform with the next generation of its young singers was a cracker.
We Are the Youth Of The World and Sing! told us exactly what the Choral is doing, introducing a whole new generation of singers to music, training them to the highest of standards and clearly making it fun.
Click on the link below to view a gallery from the performance
The smallest singers – some of them as young as six – shone in their turquoise T-shirts while the older members of the Junior Choirs revealed a depth of talent which confirms that singing is cool and in safe hands for the future.
The performance of Simon Lindley’s exquisite arrangement of Ave Maria was one of the highlights of the evening but it was perhaps the youngsters performance in Alan Simmons’ light-hearted Christmas Past Gets Christmas Present that almost brought the house down.
Full marks to Susan Wilkinson, musical director of the junior choirs and to accompanist Jane Robertson and all those who work with this tip-top set of junior choirs.
The choir’s other guests were one of the country’s top bands, Brighouse and Rastrick, here showing a warm, mellowness of tone which perfectly suited the fire-side, mulled wine, festive mood the audience were encouraged to enjoy.
In the hands of conductor Garry Cutt the band proved themselves zippy and flexible, switching effortlessly from a powerhouse performance in Peter Graham’s whirlwind of a piece, Phoenix, which they played with huge panache to the sheer lyricism of Irving Berlin’s lovely White Christmas.
They produced two superlative soloists in Lucy Murphy (flugelhorn) and David Thornton (euphonium).
A programme that was perhaps a tad over-long but one that had much to say about the joys of music and particularly of singing.