concert was billed as the start of a new era for the chorus, which
80-odd members from across the county.
Greg Smith, wielding the baton and
comfortable in his spiritual home – he is organist and choirmaster at
Saints’ – is NYC’s new director and principal conductor.
Mr Smith, who is also director of
Ripon Cathedral Choir School and works with the Northallerton Singers,
Choral Society and Sheffield Philharmonic Chorus, had been deputy
since 2004, before taking over earlier this year from Martin Hindmarsh,
moved south to concentrate on his career as a tenor soloist.
was an impressive debut, with works from
Haydn, Vivaldi and Handel. The
was an appropriate and worthy setting for their sacred offerings,
the chorus and the Mowbray Orchestra at the rear of the building, where
agreeable combined efforts were not swallowed up by the rafters.
Deum for the Empress Maria Therese was a rousing piece
capable of making
the audience sit up in their seats.
sophisticated was Vivaldi’s Gloria in D
Major, which had soloists Claire Stafford (soprano) and Kate
(contralto) warbling together in a particularly pleasing way for their
Another high point of the
Vivaldi was Mowbray’s
excellent cello and oboe accompaniment during Ms Stafford’s aria.
Refreshed after the break, the
for the crowning glory: the demanding task of singing all four Coronation Anthems, written by a
newly-naturalised Handel for the coronation of King George II in 1727.
the Priest, the most
familiar of the
four, has been sung at every British coronation since then. But familiarity fails to
dent its impact and
was well-sung here,
as were all six pieces of music.
The Mowbray Orchestra,
described as the
professional wing of Ripon’s St Cecilia Orchestra, was a compact and
powerhouse for the singers and organist Andrew Christer, even if the
excellence faltered briefly during part of the final anthem.
All in all, a strong start from
Mr Smith and a
chorus of singers clearly enjoying themselves.
They’ll be back together in Thirsk in May.