North Yorkshire Chorus

All Saints’ Church, Northallerton

THIS is not the most user-friendly venue for either performers or audience. The nave, where the audience was seated, is at a considerable distance and separated by the crossing from the chancel where the singers were placed.

This made it difficult to create any kind of meaningful bond between the two. It all felt a bit distant.

The impressive building is well worth a visit in its own right. However, I seem to remember a previous occasion when the pews were turned lengthwise to the north side and this was a better arrangement for audience visibility and audibility.

The music itself was magnificent and so was the singing. The selection consisted entirely of sacred music with some very fine singing in the Elgar Te Deum and Benedictus and in Poulenc’s Gloria, with beautiful organ playing by Alan Horsey and an amazing performance by Rachel Little, who has a beautiful soprano voice and an impressive vocal range. Exciting singing by the choir rounded off this fine piece.

After the interval, in striking contrast to the drama of Poulenc, the Introit of Duruflé’s Requiem led gently into the soaring passage of the Kyrie and the glorious Mass under the baton of Greg Smith, conductor, with Thom Meredith’s fine baritone voice fulfilling the solo in the Domine Jesu Christe section.

Women’s voices with a delicate and beautiful organ accompaniment predominated in the Sanctus, and Rachel Little delivered a profoundly beautiful Pie Jesu.

The work progresses through the form of the Mass with musical variations to the great cry of fear of God’s judgement, an appeal for liberation from sin, and finally, to Paradise.

In Paradisum was opened by the sopranos, who gave a very strong performance considering they form a surprisingly small proportion of the singers, being outnumbered by the altos.

This was a polished performance by a first-rate choral society, but perhaps thought should be given to future venues.

Irene MacDonald