Review: Incredible success of 2016 Nidderdale Messiah

Childhood friends Jane Burniston and Elizabeth McGavin
Childhood friends Jane Burniston and Elizabeth McGavin

Over 200 performers took to the stage for this year's Nidderdale Messiah.

The thirteenth Nidderdale Messiah proved to be an enormous success, whichever way you look at it.

The audience at this year's performance

The audience at this year's performance

It was a great musical event, filling Holy Trinity Church with the sound of almost 200 voices, musicians and talented soloists.

It raised well over £4000 for Harrogate Homeless Project.

But certainly the least anticipated success was the chance meeting of two friends who had played together as neighbours in early childhood and had not met since.

Choral singer Elizabeth McGavin of Knaresborough recognised Nidderdale Messiah Chairman Jane Burniston by name and the two were happily reunited just before the interval.

This is surely the essence of a community event.

Conductor John Dunford, who had stepped in at very short notice, when David Andrews was unwell, achieved a very creditable performance.

After only a short rehearsal he was able to bring together singers who had known Messiah for years along with complete novices into a wonderfully joyful ensemble.

In this he was amply assisted by the sensitive musicianship of organist Adrian Selway and an ensemble of professional players.

One member of the audience commented that it was difficult to believe that this was an amateur “Come and Sing” event.

As is the custom with Nidderdale Messiah, four young trained soloists at the outset of their professional careers gave their services for this performance.

All four are music graduates from Birmingham University.

Harrogate born tenor David Woods opened the oratorio in clear ringing tones.

He has a natural voice and sang with quiet assurance and conviction.

Alto Bryony Burnham showed a delicacy of phrasing and particular tenderness in “He shall feed His flock.”

Soprano Lydia Haynes has a glorious voice and communicates well with her audience.

There was a true sense of rejoicing in the Christmas message in all her arias nowhere more so than in ”Rejoice greatly”.

Peter Brooks was a dramatic bass with a voice well suited to the role.

The glorious playing of the two trumpets (Andrew Jackson and Nick Garrett) matched his rich bass tones to perfection in “The Trumpet shall sound” bringing the whole performance to its climax before the final Amen.

Thanks once again to Holy Trinity Church, Knaresborough for giving the event such a warm welcome. Nidderdale Messiah goes from strength to strength.