TWO years ago more than 90 singers from Huddersfield Choral Society flew to Japan to sing Britten’s War Requiem in what proved a milestone event in the choir’s history.
Now the choir is to welcome visitors making the return trip as more than 60 members of the Osaka Symphonic Choir visit England to renew the friendships they made in 2007.
Sixty-five Japanese singers, plus 10 non-singing friends and partners, will arrive in Huddersfield on April 12.
The Osaka singers, few of whom are fluent in English, have been busy learning Handel’s Judas Maccabaeus in preparation for the trip.
They will perform it first in Osaka and then join Huddersfield Choral Society on stage in Huddersfield Town Hall to sing it on April 16 conducted by Takuo Yuasa with the Manchester Camerata.
Osaka is Japan’s second city and has a population of more than eight million.
More than 2,800 packed a concert hall two years ago to hear the Osaka choir and the Osaka Philharmonic Orchestra perform Britten’s War Requiem with Huddersfield Choral Society.
It was thought to be the first time that a Japanese choir had performed that particular piece and the concert provided Choral Society members with extraordinary memories.
The Japanese choir can expect a warm welcome in Huddersfield from the choir whose members it greeted at Osaka airport with flags and banners.
Though that visit next spring will provide the Choral with another milestone in its remarkable history, there is much more to look forward to in a busy season which is already under way.
The first subscribers’ concert is on Friday (October 30) at Huddersfield Town Hall and is a performance of A Mass of Life – a rarely-heard choral masterpiece by Bradford-born composer Frederick Delius.
The piece is described as ‘very difficult and challenging to sing, with lush harmonies and big orchestral colour’.
That colour is, on this occasion, provided by the BBC Philharmonic conducted by Martyn Brabbins.
The international line-up of soloists is Janice Watson (soprano), Anna Stephany (mezzo-soprano), Jeffrey Lloyd-Roberts (tenor) and Roderick Williams (baritone).
Although this concert is part of the subscribers’ series, there are still some seats available. Contact Julie Hale on 07989 395066 or email@example.com for ticket information. The concert begins at 7.30pm.
Singers are also rehearsing for a concert next month, again in the Town Hall, but this time as part of the Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival.
The festival has commissioned the American-born composer Alvin Curran to write a substantial piece for four-part choir, improvising chorus, and small instrumental ensemble.
The scoring includes four bass drums, 30 harmonicas and a horn called a shofar.
The Choral Society members are grappling with the complexity not just of the music, but of settings of words by John Cage and James Joyce. The piece also includes an arrangement of the spiritual, Shall We Gather By The River.
The concert is on Sunday, November 29 at 4pm and admission is free.
For many Choral supporters, the big dates remain those of the two Messiah performances.
The public performance this year is on December 15 (7.15pm) with the subscribers’ event the following evening.
This year the performance is conducted by Grant Llewellyn with the Orchestra of Opera North.
The ticket application form for the public performance of Messiah runs in the Examiner on November 6 but you can have the forms sent direct by joining the Choral’s mailing list – simply drop an email with your contact details to firstname.lastname@example.org You can also phone subscribers’ secretary Julie Hale on 07989 395066 or write to her at: Huddersfield Choral Society, 20 St Francis Gardens, Huddersfield HD2 2EU.
If you are unable to get to one of the performances, listen out for a live broadcast of the Choral’s Messiah in Sunday Worship for BBC Radio 4 (8.10-8.50am) on December 6 from St Paul’s Hall in Huddersfield.
While it means an early call for the Choral’s singers, the rest of us can stay in bed to listen as this is not a public event and to hear it you will have to tune in to the radio broadcast.
The Choral’s concert season includes a concert, again at St Paul’s Hall, by its chorusmaster Joseph Cullen and Darius Battiwalla, with guests from the Department of Music at Huddersfield University.
The concert of music for organ and piano is on November 14 (7.30pm) and tickets are available from David Burgess, 12 Cumberland Avenue, Huddersfield HD2 2JJ or phone 01484 310966 or email email@example.com
The Choral gets into real festive mood on December 10 and 11 with its Christmas concerts which see the return of the irrepressible Brian Kay as conductor and compère.
The concerts will feature Hepworth brass band and the young Australian soprano Martene Grimson. There will be a mix of carols old and new, with some favourites for the audience to sing.