Leeds Parish Church Choir Recital

Saturday January 6th 2001 at Church of the Epiphany, Austwick
Brian Birkby

 North Craven 
 Heritage Trust 

The Trust can consider itself fortunate to enjoy this once a year opportunity to listen to Simon Lindley and his choristers in a Dale's location. This year they gave their recital on the Feast of the Epiphany at Austwick and a more than capacity audience was in no sense disappointed in what they heard.

The programme was imaginatively varied and was punctuated by full audience participation in what were, with one or two exceptions, some familiar and appropriate hymns, sung with relish and conviction. If Lindley's observations on the quality of the 'Brightest and Best' tune may have raised some eyebrows, his judgement on its obvious singability was amply vindicated by a Church full of people, there partially at least, to enjoy their own singing.

In introducing groups of items simultaneously, Lindley offered, as he usually does, informing comments on some of the pieces, thereby helping with the process of contextualisation, so necessary when the audience is wide and at least some of the material presented, unfamiliar. How many, for example, had heard Christopher Rathbone's 'This endris Night' before and, just as interesting, that it was conceived among the seven hills which surround Morley? Moreover, how many would agree with Lindley that Quilter's setting of 'Non nobis Domine' deserves to stand alongside 'Jerusalem' and 'Land of Hope and Glory' as a central pillar in a long heritage of national song? Whatever else he does, however flamboyant some of his gestures, this Choirmaster sets us thinking as well as listening. Nevertheless listening was in reality what this large audience was there to do. We heard Bach's 'O little one sweet' sung in delicately miniature sound and Lindley's own 'Come sing and dance' delivered with verve, vitality and vigour. Thalben Ball's arrangement of the traditional Polish carol 'Lullay, Lord Jesus,' was rich and almost stately in its harmonies, whilst in Peter Cornelius"The Three Kings' the voice of the soloist blended so beautifully with the ever swelling chorale. Poulenc's 'Videntes stellam' was tackled ambitiously and one would hope to see it as a secure part of the repertoire in the future.

Many of the more familiar pieces like Hoist's 'Lullay my liking' and Stephen Cleobury's arrangement of 'The Cherry Tree Carol' were performed with wonted competence and not even the lack of musical subtlety evident in Carter's 'Every star' and Hurford's 'Sunny Bank' could eclipse a choir so intent on singing them well.

Any recital which gives good food for thought and whets musical appetites for more has in large measure succeeded in what it sets out to do. Is it not a pity that the next one is twelve months away? Thank you Lindley and colleagues.


The inscription reads 'There is no way for such a guest be pleased to stay for I protest;' i.e. there is no thorough and I object to you going on until you have partaken of our hospitality. This was above the doorway leading to the stairway.