Darlington & Stockton Times
This review appeared in the Darlington and Stockton Times on
3 December 2010.   It is reproduced here with permission.
Copyright   Newsquest (North East) Ltd, 2010

North Yorkshire Chorus
St Mary's Church, Thirsk

This rare treat showcased two of the finest modern composers of religious music.

The chorus, supported by a six-piece orchestral ensemble and soloist, Sara Boomsma, gave a thrilling performance of John Rutter's Requiem and The Armed Man - a Mass for Peace by Karl Jenkins, conducted by Greg Smith.

Rutter's solemn, swelling introit was followed by the Kyrie, including a resonant cello solo, and continued with cello and voices in Out of the Deep Have I Called to You Oh Lord.  In the Pie Jesu section, Ms Boomsma's top notes resonated like crystal, sweetly echoed by the choir.

The Sanctus opened on bright, bell-like notes and instrumentals. Percussionist Cherry Bratkowski slipped nimbly between the drums for the first bars of the Agnus Dei, before an almost conversational passage with another cello line, singers gaining strength and dominance as the passage moved to a crescendo of voices and instruments.

Flute and harping notes (presumbly electronic) opened Psalm 23, flowing sweetly, the flute accompanying throughout, before returning to the opening theme for the tranquil conclusion, when we might well have thought ourselves transported to heaven.

The second half brough a superb performance of The Armed man - A Mass for Peace, which ranges through many changes of mood, colour and style.

It enthralled from the beginning - the call to prayer, compelling and spine-tingling; the deep-toned cello passage at the start of the Kyrie, joined by the flute and then soprano in a slow, subdued middle register, taken up by full choir and trumpets, again diminishing once more.

The men's voices were particularly effective and beautiful here, perfectly striking the balance of contrast with those of the women.

The Sanctus had a disturbing mix of military menance and holiness. Screams of agony, followed by an equally awful silence, were rounded off by the Last Post and the violent Torches, succeeded by an affirmative Benedictus.

After this fine result, the North Yorkshire Chorus presents Handel's Messiah in All Saints' Church, Northallerton, at 7.30pm, tomorrow, partnered by the Mowbray Orchestra.

Irene MacDonald

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