Handel Messiah,

Otley and Ilkley Choral Societies,

Otley Parish Church, December 6, 2014


There was a capacity audience who came to hear the last performance of Messiah to be conducted by Alan Horsey, in his final season with the Otley and Ilkley Choral Societies, and they did him proud!


From the rousing opening notes of the Yorkshire Chamber Orchestra led by Sally Robinson, who accompanied throughout with great sensitivity, the scene was set for a memorable performance.


The opening recitative, ‘Comfort Ye’, was sung with authority and warmth of tone by the soloist, tenor Alexander Banfield. The rich tones of the bass Terence Ayebare brought the solo bass narrative alive and the soaring purity of the mezzo soprano, Heather Ireson inspired the chorus so that ‘O thou that tellest good tidings’, danced and sparkled. Alan Horsey adopted lively tempi throughout this performance and his singers responded valiantly to the challenge.


Following the confident entry by the sopranos, the other voice sections responded in like manner and the overall ensemble singing was a delight. The notoriously tricky semi quavers in the chorus,’ For unto us a boy is born’, were well negotiated, followed by the soprano soloist, Joanna Norman singing with mellifluous  tone, setting the scene for the fine chorus entries into ‘Glory to God’.


The trumpets deserve special mention; placed at the back of the church; they gave a stereophonic effect and enhanced this chorus.


The gentleman of the Chorus excelled themselves in the ‘Alleluia Chorus’ with some fine singing, underpinning the ladies with authority and depth. A highlight was the ‘duet’ between the trumpeter, Jamie O’ Brien and the bass soloist, in ‘The Trumpet shall Sound’ which was a joy to hear.


No one sings the Messiah like a Yorkshire chorus in full voice. The joint forces of Otley and Ilkley, together with the four excellent soloists, and the Yorkshire Chamber Orchestra, directed by Alan Horsey, definitively demonstrated this to be so.  


Val Middleton


From:  Ilkley Gazette, 11 December 2014