What have you been up to in the holidays?
(asked a member of Overgate Hospice Choir on the first rehearsal back after the Summer break……………….)
An innocent enough question!
Overgate Music Director Dr Simon Lindley tries to supply some of the answers.
Additional to the significant preparation of all the printed matter for nine major choral events between October and December, much of the early part of July was taken up with special Leeds-based occasions associated with the Grand Depart of the Tour de France. For me, there was a lunchtime organ concert at the Town Hall entitled Entente Cordiale and, two evenings later, a Tour de Proms concert with organ involvement including the finale of the Saint-Saëns Organ Symphony. It was good to welcome Overgate members to both events.
A major recording and concert project with Leeds-based St Peter’s Singers entitled One Equal Music took place in the magnificent surroundings of the Victoria Quarter, home of the Leeds branch of Harvey Nichols. There were three evenings of recordings from 7.00 to 10.00 and a Sunday evening Prom concert on 6 July started the whole thing off. All the music was unaccompanied, to sacred texts, and a great deal of it learnt by the Singers especially for the project. It was enormous fun, hugely challenging and extremely well organised and managed by SPS officers. Many of the vocalists are very well known to OHC members and have sung with us as soloists.
The actual real breaks covered three whole days and evenings. Firstly, an invitation to the 70th birthday event arranged at the Beamish Museum in County Durham by friend and colleague Dr Judith Blezzard, formerly Reader in Music in the University of Liverpool. The magnificent weather enhanced everything and the day concluded with three hours, no less, of uninterrupted Tram Driving (and associated tuition) before departing homewards on the train from Chester-le-Street.
The second excursion was to South London and Hither Green to visit with son Dominic, daughter-in-law Hazel and Annabelle, who will celebrate her first birthday in September. We took Annabelle for many walks and a superb pub lunch. Travelling from the West Riding by Grand Central Trains is restful and economical by turns.
I also managed a Sunday lunch with third son Benedict, daughter Rebecca and partner Chris – the Greyhound at Tong: highly recommended, but advance booking is vital.
There were recitals at Wakefield Cathedral and at Baildon, along with major services at the Minster included special liturgies of welcome to the new Bishop of the Diocese of West Yorkshire and the Dales and a county-wide event organised by the Lieutenancy in commemoration of the Great War in this special centenary year. Volunteer singers committed splendidly to both and Mr Houlder was on superb form at the Minster Organ.
Accompaniment of Singing and other Examinations involving Minster Choristers and students at Abbey Grange Church of England Academy took up three or four days, and the final preparations and performance of Joseph and his amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat at our Parochial School took care of another three days and two performances. The young people of St Peter’s School excelled themselves and played to capacity audiences. Minster Chorister Fredy Djikingue was great in the title role.
Another day in London involved preparations for a new edition of the English Hymnal; two lecture-recitals to Masonic gatherings in Bradford and Leeds, along with six evening meetings, were prominent in the latter half of July. The concerts in Scarborough with Philip McCann and Keith Swallow were held as usual on the third weekend of August and these had to be prepared for and planned.
Preparations were made, and souvenir programme books produced, for series of recitals during August in and around Doncaster – entitled Toccata Tuesdays – in aid of Doncaster Choral Society Funds and at Leeds Minster, for support of the maintenance of the organ. These are in August on Tuesday evenings (Doncaster) and Sunday evenings at the Minster. The final Minster concert is at 7.45 on 31 August and will be followed by Wine and Cheese hosted by generous Friends of the Music at Leeds.
Other “specials” included a great Concert at Fulneck Church by Dr Gordon Stewart on the first Thursday of August as well as Wedding commitments in and around Leeds.
Just hours before OHC rehearsals resumed came another special First World War event – a late evening vigil on Monday 4 August. Readings were all from the pen of the great Father Geoffrey – The Reverend G A Studdert-Kennedy – born in the Minster parish at Leeds where his father was Vicar of St Mary’s Quarry Hill and, of course known world-wide as Woodbine Willie, the greatly beloved Padre to the troops on the front line. There were ballads and songs of the period from Anita Wiencelewski and Quentin Brown and Christopher Trenholme finished the evening with a wonderful rendition of the Agnus Dei from Britten’s War Requiem.
So, with the monthly Tuesday afternoon Radio Leeds classical music slots and other regular diary dates, there was, indeed, plenty to do during the holiday period!
The Fulneck Baroque Festival over the Bank Holiday weekend concludes on Monday 25 with Handel’s Samson with Chris Trenholme in the title role. Admission is free and the performance at 4.00 pm also features well-known local soloists with the Principals of the National Festival Orchestra and Alan Horsey at the organ. Why not join us at Fulneck Moravian Church, LS28 8NT for that occasion?
All the best from the Conductor
A workshop to enhance preparations for our October concert will be held on Saturday 13th. September 2014 in Blackley Baptist Church, HX5 0TD. It will commence at 10.00 with coffee provided when we arrive. Please bring your lunch.Tickets, at £5, may be obtained from Valerie.
Dr Lindley writes: The memorable programme of music selected for our October Concert “Lest We Forget” includes works by Thalben-Ball and John Ireland as well as the substantial items by Herman van Dyk and Elgar – with the evening culminating in the challenging popular work by Karl Jenkins: “The Armed Man – A Mass for Peace”.
Our Workshop offers a special chance for developing the individual, and corporate, skills required for this significant occasion in the cultural life of Halifax and marks another major creative milestone for the Hospice Choir.
The revival of the work by Halifax-based composer Herman van Dyk has revealed a gloriously gratefully written and expressive piece that will make a huge impact at the concert. The Choir took to this music from the first like ducks to water and members are enormously grateful to those who have discovered this lovely music by a locally based musician who played so significant a role in the artistic life of West Yorkshire before and following the years of the “Great War” – pretty well up to the time of death in 1940, in fact.
It is my earnest hope that as many members as possible can, and will, be there on 13 September to take forward this important presentation we have set for ourselves for the marking of the First World War Centenary Commemoration in this very special way with top vocal soloists and the accompaniment of the gifted professional players of the National Festival Orchestra.
Blackley Baptist Church recently held a Flower Festival to celebrate the Church’s 225th. Anniversary. Organisations who use the Church were invited to contribute by creating a flower arrangement depicting an anniversary. Choir members Joan Dunn and Carol Armitage selected pearly anthuriums in their display for a Pearl Anniversary.
On Monday 25th. August 2014, Chris Trenholme is to sing the title role in Handel’s Samson. Simon is conducting the performers who include Alan at the organ, the Principals of the National Festival Orchestra and St Peter’s Singers. The concert is to be held in Fulneck Moravian Church LS28 8NT at 4.00pm . Admission is free. Choir members will be most welcome.
Research by Choir members Elaine Beach and John Sunderland, along with their colleagues from the Halifax Great War Heritage Society ( www.halifaxgreatwar.org), revealed the life and works of Herman van Dyk. We are singing his setting of Psalm 23- the Lord is my Shepherd at our concert on Saturday 18th. October. John has joined the Choir so that he can enjoy singing the piece.