Harrogate Choral Society last visited St Aidan’s Church, Harehills, Leeds in December 2015 to sing Messiah and Rev. Andi Hofbauer was delighted to welcome them to sing again. The church is worthy of a visit in itself with the famous Brangwyn Mosaics as well as an impressive marble font and a confessional built by the mouseman Robert Thompson of Kilburn amongst the many impressive features.
Messiah opens with an overture which was played by the choir’s very experienced accompanist Thomas Moore, who is organist at Wakefield Cathedral, playing the James Jepson Binns organ, an instrument of noted historic importance.
The vocal performance was begun in great style by tenor Toby Ward’s rendering of “Comfort Ye “ and he continued in the same vein, later adding great pathos to “Thy Rebuke has Broken my Heart”. Bass Edward Seymour has a powerful voice and sang an authoratitive “Thus Saith the Lord”, and later on “The People that Walked in Darkness” and “The Trumpet Shall Sound” his rich voice resonating well throughout the whole church.
A family bereavement and illness meant that the Soprano and Mezzo soloists were actually last minute substitutes, but Helen Latham, Soprano and Amy Payne, Mezzo acquitted themselves well with some lovely singing.
Of course the main performers were the choir themselves and Music Director Andrew Padmore, who guided them expertly through the many choruses - all of which were performed very well indeed. Having heard performances of Harrogate Choral singing Messiah with an orchestra this was a very different performance, somewhat slower as the organ cannot achieve the tempi of string players but most enjoyable. Of particular note were “Since by Man Came Death” and of course the “Hallelujah” chorus. The weather outside might have been cold, wet and stormy but inside the church the music was heavenly.