THE cathedral was full – not a vacant seat in sight – with the huge joint chorus of singers from the North Yorkshire Chorus and Wetherby Choral Society together with the Mowbray Orchestra filling the area fronting the choir screen to capacity.

It was an impressive sight, and the warmth and duration of the applause for conductor Greg Smith demonstrated the degree of affection and respect this great combination commands. Altogether it generated a wonderful atmosphere which enhanced the anticipation of Verdi’s great work.

The first swell of music was almost physical, filling the huge ancient building with the most amazing sound. The Dies Irae was so visceral it was almost scary, an effect unique in my experience, and about equal in intensity was the great cry for mercy – Salva me – from the combined chorus and soloists Jennifer Westwood, mezzo, Martin Hindmarsh, tenor, D’Arcy Bleiker, bass baritone and a magnificent soprano, Naomi Harvey, who has a wonderful voice in range and power and had rushed to the rescue when the advertised singer Samantha Hay was unable to appear.

Harvey sings with the Welsh National Orchestra and performed the demanding soprano part to perfection, delivering a small miracle for the success of the evening, having travelled the length of the country to take part.

All four soloists were superb. Jennifer Westwood and Martin Hindmarsh – both fine singers – are no strangers to North Yorkshire, and D’Arcy Bleiker has a magnificent bass voice, rich and intense.

It was obvious that Greg Smith is held in great esteem and affection by the chorus and orchestra. His conducting was expressive, precise, faultless.

The combined chorus and orchestra filled the great space with sublime music. Verdi’s composition was performed with all the power it deserves and it would be difficult to imagine a finer experience.

Irene MacDonald