A NIGHT AT THE OPERA: A MAGICAL EVENING

Otley and Ilkley Choral Societies

At Leeds Trinity University


With Otley Parish Church undergoing a make-over, the choral societies of Otley and Ilkley performed a programme of opera choruses and arias at Leeds Trinity University, Horsforth.

A liberal sprinkling of operatic favourites, ranging from Verdi to Wagner, from Purcell to Puccini, meant there was much to whet the appetite and, for the most part, the singers rose to the challenge.

The night was an acid test for Barry Jordan, handling his first concert as Musical Director of both societies and he made a more than promising start as successor to the recently retired Alan Horsey. He could be particularly pleased with the sympathetic way in which he handled Handel’s Chorus of the Enchanted Islanders and the Bridal Chorus from Wagner’s Lohengrin.

The chorus did Verdi justice in both the Anvil Chorus and the Triumphal Scene (better known as the Grand March) from Aida.

Three young soloists showed genuine potential, with Benjamin Lewis giving rein to a rich bass baritone voice. If he’s yet to develop the power to tackle Wagner professionally, his performance of O du mein holder Abendstern from Tannhauser suggested he is heading in the right direction.

Catriona Hewitson had vocal flexibility, excellent diction and a lovely tone.

Alexander Grainger has the raw materials and he relished regular sojourns to the top of the tenor’s register. He still has work to work to do, however, on his breathing and all three would have benefitted from dispensing with their vocal scores.

All in all, though, an enjoyable evening.

Mark Dexter

from Ilkley Gazette 19 November 2015