A welcome return to performing – review of concert 13th November

A welcome return for the Ilkley and Otley Choral Societies

By Owen Wells

The Ilkley Choral Society, together with the Otley Choral Society made a welcome return to St Margaret’s Church, for the first time after two years of lockdown and Covid restrictions.

The first half of the concert showcased their four soloists. Particular mention should be made of the soprano, Aimee Fisk, a local singer, who stood in at the last moment. She has a voice of extraordinary power and beauty, that she displayed in a formidable rendering of Mozart’s ‘Laudate Dominus’.

The other soloists, Jesse Conway (mezzo-soprano) and Sam Madden (tenor), were excellent, but this listener was moved to tears by the extraordinary emotional rendering of ‘Do not stand at my grave and weep’ by the bass Graham McCusker – a choice that was so appropriate for a concert the day before Remembrance Sunday.

All the soloists sang four motets by Bruckner, ably and sensitively backed by the choirs, including a particular favourite of mine, ‘Locus Iste’.

The second half of the concert was a performance of Mozart’s Requiem (a work that was uncompleted at the time of his death, but was completed by his student Sussmayr from notes that Mozart had left). The two choirs gave a magnificent, full-blooded, but compassionate rendering. This piece was very fitting for Remembrance weekend, and also in memory of the many who have suffered and died during the pandemic.

No review of this excellent concert would be complete without acknowledging the fine work of Jennifer Sterling in coaxing the best possible performance from the choirs. And mention must also be made of the organist, Robert Suddal who also accompanied the soloists on the piano during the first half.

It was altogether a splendid evening and a welcome return for the Ilkley and Otley Choral Societies.

Owen Wells

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