Harrogate Choral Society's historic links to Sir Malcolm Sergeant and Festival of Britain

As Harrogate Choral Society prepares to perform Handel's Messiah, new archive research has uncovered a visit to London by 1,000 Yorkshire choristers, including a group of HCS singers, to perform the same composition at the Festival of Britain under the baton of Sir Malcolm Sergeant.
Conductor David Lawrence will lead Harrogate Choral Society in Handel's Messiah at the Royal Hall in Harrogate this weekend.Conductor David Lawrence will lead Harrogate Choral Society in Handel's Messiah at the Royal Hall in Harrogate this weekend.
Conductor David Lawrence will lead Harrogate Choral Society in Handel's Messiah at the Royal Hall in Harrogate this weekend.

The 1951 concert programme refers, with what these days might be thought to be condescension, to the Messiah being “like the Yorkshire character, forthright and warm-hearted, bluff, simple, direct".

For all the very adventurous works it has performed over the years, and the famous musicians and soloists who have been attracted to Harrogate to perform with the choir, in recent years for example violinist Nicola Benedetti and tenor Alfie Boe, there is one work which links the present HCS with its founding members – Handel’s famous oratorio.

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Back in 2022, this Saturday's Messiah at the Royal Hall in Harrogate will see the return of the cutting-edge Manchester Camerata, with Soprano Kathryn Jenkin, Mezzo Gaynor Keeble, Tenor David Woods and Bass Andrew Mayor.

Taking up the Yorkshire baton in his first Messiah performance with the choir will be David Lawrence, Harrogate Choral Society’s renowned new musical director.

Tickets (including concessions) are available from Harrogate Theatre Box Office in person or by calling 01423 502116 or emailing [email protected]

The roots of Harrogate Choral Society go back to the 19th century, with a mention in the Harrogate Herald, the Harrogate Advertiser’s sister paper, though it disappeared from the records at one point until after the war in 1948.