Leeds Parish Church Choir Recital

Saturday 5th January 2002, Church of St Alkelda, Giggleswick
Brian Birkby

The Leeds Parish Church Choir delivered another beautiful Epiphany Recital in St. Alkelda's Church Giggleswick.

Simon Lindley, the Choirmaster, provided us with a catholic mix of styles sung by a choir, full, though we only see them once in the year, of familiar faces. Memorable among the offerings was a particularly direct and four-square version of Craig Sellar Lang's 'Eastern Monarchs, Sages Three' in which, unsubtle though the music was, the singing itself was inspired. Equally impressive, though for different reasons, was the American carol 'Jesus Christ, the Apple Tree', the boy soloist singing with well-nigh perfect diction, achieved by means of a succession of arresting, palatal consonants. Christopher Rathbone's 'Blessed be that Lady bright' was superb when unaccompanied, suffering, albeit ever so slightly, from some imprecision in the organ accompaniment. By contrast, the organ accompaniment to Stuart Thompson's 'Revelabitur' was quite excellent, as was the blending throughout of modern and medieval sounds.

There was, inevitably, much more, in particular, a wonderful Victorian and Edwardian section in which the authentic sound of the Victorian soiree was reproduced by Lindley and the choir. It may seem to us nowadays somewhat affected to hear dramatic stress sung to such obvious effect, but it succeeded in this recital, at least, in taking us back in time a hundred years or more. The second soloist in Martin Shaw's 'Kings in Glory' gave us one of the highlights of the event.

Of course, no Leeds Choir recital is complete without theatre. In addition to Simon Lindley's own, quite visible, flourish, we had a wonderful Epiphany Procession with the three kings in their different colourful robes. We had a marvellous nonconformist romp in Arwel Hughes' 'Tydi a Rhoddaist', whose lilt and singability put one in mind of Rossini's 'Petite Messe Solonnelle'. And we had what we always seem to get on these occasions, an audience (congregation) prepared to stretch its vocal chords to the limit.