Uplifting experience at cathedral with Harrogate Choral Society

International singer, mezzo soprano Margaret McDonald.
International singer, mezzo soprano Margaret McDonald.

IT’S an uplifting location for an inspirational piece of music.

Ripon Cathedral will be filled with the uplifting sounds of one of the 20th century’s most poignant choral works, Elgar’s The Dream of Gerontius on Saturday, March 10.

Performed by Harrogate Choral Society, the composition is a moving setting of Cardinal Newman’s poem, written in 1865 and tells of the death of Gerontius (from the Greek for ‘old man’) and the experience as his Soul approaches God.

Although Elgar wrote of the piece, “This is the best of me...”, the first performance in 1900 for the Birmingham Triennial Festival was not a success.

Neither the conductor nor the chorus had had sufficient time to rehearse the work which was in a style they were not familiar with.

Fortunately the same can’t be said of Harrogate Choral Society who under the skilled direction of music director Andrew Padmore have risen to its complexities.

The well-rehearsed choir is joined by a trio of experienced soloists.

Margaret McDonald (mezzo soprano) is a renowned international singer and vocal coach for the Hallé Choir whose experience of UK venues ranges from Glyndebourne to Bramall Lane Stadium where she sang the Sheffield United anthem for a documentary about the club.

Bonaventura Bottone (tenor) is a fellow of the Royal Academy of Music and as a leading tenor has performed at many of the world’s top opera houses. Robert Poulton (baritone) spent much of his early career at Glyndebourne‚ has made appearances with major international and UK-based companies, including Opera North and Welsh National Opera, and has created roles in many contemporary operas.

Marilynne Davies, deputy music director of the Harrogate Choral Society said: “From its opening Prelude via pious Angelicals and raging Demons to its serene close, the work’s moving marriage of words and music has ensured its place as one of the greatest and most moving of all choral works.”

The choir will be joined by the Amici Orchestra, whose leader is Eileen Spencer.

She said: “We’ve formed close links with many Yorkshire choirs and are particularly fond of working with the Harrogate Choral Society.”

The concert starts at 7.30 pm.

l For tickets costing £18 (concessions available), please telephone Gill Crowther on 01423 817885) or Pomp & Circumstance of 22 Commercial Street, Harrogate on 01423 504035).

l For more information about The Dream of Gerontius and other Harrogate Choral Society events, including its forthcoming ceilidh at www.harrogatechoral.org.uk