TITLE: Honley Male Voice Choir and the Cory Band

VENUE: Huddersfield Town Hall

REVIEW: William Marshall

THE Cory Band – officially the best in the world – certainly knows its way around Huddersfield Town Hall, thanks to its long-standing relationship with Honley Male Voice Choir.

At the latest joint Christmas concert, the band twice dispatched cornet players to various parts of the balcony, to achieve spatial effects.

The evening opened very effectively in this way with Mahler’s fanfare The Great Summons; and in the second half, new conductor Philip Harper’s arrangement of The Little Drummer Boy - styled after Ravel’s Bolero – also created a quadraphonic effect.

Quite apart from such enterprising performance techniques, the brass musicianship of the Cory players was as dazzling as usual.

The solo features included technical fireworks (euphoniumist Matthew White in Bravura); funky jazz stylings (soprano cornettist Steve Stewart in Live and Let Die); plus smooth subtlety (Joanne Childs’s flugel horn in Away in a Manger and trombonist Chris Thomas in Silent Night).

The Honley MVC’s guest vocal soloist was the American soprano Callie Jo Denbigh, who demonstrated a very wide range and bags of technique in showcase numbers such as Rossini’s Una Voce Poco Far, but her voice had a more naturally intimate quality and was shown to best effect on more wistful material such as Can’t Help Lovin’ Dat Man and the West Side Story selections she performed with the Honley choir.

The MVC was conducted by its former deputy musical director John Oldfield, admirably filling in during a transitional period as the choir awaits its new director, due to start in January.

The singers suavely performed a wide range of material, much of it Christmassy, of course. Perhaps the most moving item was the Harold Darke version of In a Bleak Midwinter, in which the choir achieved a very effective switch of tone colour for the second verse.

Baritone singer Brian Winterbottom stepped from the ranks of the choir to perform a very capable solo on What I Did for Love from A Chorus Line and the concert was compered by the well-known local theatrical personality Peter Armitage.