Horsforth Choral Society

Handel’s Messiah used to mean Christmas. The Horsforth Choral Society ‘s Come and Sing Messiah in St Margaret’s Church on November 9 was therefore a really welcome, if early start to the festivities.

The choir, 80 Horsforth Choral members and 40 extra singers, was too large a group for members to fit in their usual seats, on this occasion occupied by some members of the audience.

The singers sat in the front pews and seats at the side. Kathryn Woodruff conducted from the pulpit, the soloists facing her.

The audience soon forgot the unusual seating when the familiar Comfort Ye My People rang out, sung by tenor Paul Smith. Soprano Claire Strafford, born in Newlaithes Manor House, Horsforth, used to teach at Ripon Cathedral Choir School and her first solo, the recitatives introducing Glory to God had the purity of tone and absence of tremolo which make cathedral trebles so magical.

Nigel Sinclair, rector of St Margaret’s, in his address at the end, spoke of Messiah’s presenting the whole Christian story from the Baptist to the Evangelists.

This performance brought out the powerful emotions of this story. Beth Moxon’s rich contralto conveyed the pathos of Christ in He Was Despised and Quentin Brown’s Behold, I Tell You a Mystery thrilled with the vision of the Last Judgement followed by his duet with trumpet played by Joshua Brown.

David Wilks, a distinguished Leeds organist, made St Margaret’s famous organ sing with many voices It was the choruses of this masterpiece however which made the evening memorable with the choir singing confidently and at times with great beauty.

A collection was taken for Horsforth Charity, Caring For Life. The next concert to look forward to is the Christmas Concert on December 10.

Hilary Taylor