Faultless performance of Haydn's Nelson Mass and Mozart's Requiem by Huddersfield Choral Society and the Royal Northern Sinfonia

Kirklees Council will withdraw all funding from the Huddersfield and Dewsbury Orchestral Concert Series at the end of the 2015-16 season.

At the recent budget meeting this decision was hidden in a general statement announcing the council’s withdrawal from ‘promotions’.

Ironically, this decision has been taken at a time when three northern orchestras – Royal Northern Sinfonia, Orchestra of Opera North and BBC Philharmonic – are internationally outstanding and the much-vaunted London orchestras are embarrassingly bland and characterless.

Unless Kirklees’ funding decision is altered – or alternative funding can be found – then Huddersfield will hear professional orchestras only when they are engaged by Huddersfield Choral Society.

The point was underlined by the Choral Society’s performance of Haydn’s Nelson Mass and Mozart’s Requiem with the Royal Northern Sinfonia.

The orchestra had a bright and flexible edge to their sonorous tone, precision, correct note lengths, forward motion and – above all – distinctive character. The Choral Society was similar and, with the technique they have developed in recent years under Chorus Master Joseph Cullen and Deputy Chorus Master Darius Battiwalla, they can now do it all – on this occasion grandeur, mystery, expression and plaintiveness.

The concert was perfect and there is no need for me to go into detail. It was recorded by Classic FM for future transmission and so will not be lost.

The Nelson Mass was an almost unbroken arc of continuously developing symphonic sound with the soloists – Rachel Nicholls, Alexandra Gibson, John Mark Ainsley and David Wilson-Johnson – impeccable in the solos and ensembles that emerge from the four part choral writing. They were impeccable again in their grand set-piece roles in Mozart’s Requiem. The tensions and ambiguities beneath the surface of both works and their hair-raising chromaticisms were made more electrifying by the utter precision of choir and orchestra and the magic touch of conductor Eamonn Dougan, new to us in Huddersfield and an absolute gem.

For me, this concert was the Choral Society’s finest hour. They now have all the attributes of a chamber choir and are getting to make music like a string quartet on a huge scale. I can think of no higher praise.

 Chris Robins, Huddersfield Examiner, 30th March 2015