AS a member of the 140 mixed voices who sang “The Armed Man” Come and Sing last Saturday at St Margaret’s Church, I should like to offer huge thanks to Cantores Olicanae, and in particular, its Chair Anne Lowe, for organising this inspirational event. It attracted singers from as far afield as Scotland and proved to be a highlight in the musical events calendar of Ilkley.

Our rehearsal began at 2pm, and although most singers had performed this work before, there was a small number who had no previous experience of it and so were learning it from scratch. “The Armed Man, a Mass for Peace” was composed by Karl Jenkins and consists of 13 movements, including the traditional Muslim Call to Prayer, which on this occasion was not included. We had three hours to perfect the remaining twelve movements and there were some of us who might have thought this was a tad ambitious in the time allowed but how wrong we were!

We were under the baton of the Cantores Musical Director Rory Wainwright Johnston, a remarkably gifted and inspirational young musician who led us seamlessly through the entire work in exactly three hours and ensuring a confident public performance at 6.30pm to a well-attended and appreciative audience. Supporting us through our performance was Jasmin Allpress, a third year student at the Royal Northern College of Music, and her contribution was outstanding. The soloists were Mezzo-Soprano Lucy Vallis and Tenor Matthew Quinn, with percussion supplied by Mark Lewalski. Their performances added an extra dimension to an already spectacular and moving musical experience.

Though not a member of Cantores Olicanae, I felt privileged to be part of their “Come and Sing” and hearing appreciative audience comments describing our performance as “stunning”, “perfectly in tune”, “warm balanced sound”, “choir attentive to dynamics” and “fabulous soloists”, etc, just proved to be the icing on the cake.

A massive thank you from all the singers to Anne for organising it and Rory for leading it.

by Liz Sharp