Darlington & Stockton Times
This review appeared in the Darlington and Stockton Times on
7 December 2007.   It is reproduced here with permission.

North Yorkshire Chorus
All Saints’ Church, Northallerton    

THIS concert was billed as the start of a new era for the chorus, which draws its 80-odd members from across the county.
      Greg Smith, wielding the baton and clearly comfortable in his spiritual home – he is organist and choirmaster at All Saints’ – is NYC’s new director and principal conductor.
      Mr Smith, who is also director of music at Ripon Cathedral Choir School and works with the Northallerton Singers, Ripon Choral Society and Sheffield Philharmonic Chorus, had been deputy director since 2004, before taking over earlier this year from Martin Hindmarsh, who has moved south to concentrate on his career as a tenor soloist.
      It was an impressive debut, with works from Haydn, Vivaldi and Handel.  The church was an appropriate and worthy setting for their sacred offerings, accommodating the chorus and the Mowbray Orchestra at the rear of the building, where their agreeable combined efforts were not swallowed up by the rafters.
     Haydn’s Te Deum for the Empress Maria Therese was a rousing piece capable of making the audience sit up in their seats.  More sophisticated was Vivaldi’s Gloria in D Major, which had soloists Claire Stafford (soprano) and Kate Woodruff (contralto) warbling together in a particularly pleasing way for their duet.
      Another high point of the Vivaldi was Mowbray’s excellent cello and oboe accompaniment during Ms Stafford’s aria.
    Refreshed after the break, the singers returned 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.
      Zadok 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 impressiveness.  It 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 able powerhouse for the singers and organist Andrew Christer, even if the strings’ 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.

Gareth Dant

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