Some musical treats in store across Choral Society’s very special season

Halifax Choral Society is celebrating its 200th anniversary
Halifax Choral Society is celebrating its 200th anniversary

Halifax Choral Society has an enviable and unchallenged record of 200 years in continuous existence.

Concerts have featured hundreds of singers, composers and soloists both famous and burgeoning and it would be invidious to mention any individually.

Composer: Philip Wilby has written The Holy Face

Composer: Philip Wilby has written The Holy Face

There are perhaps two possible exceptions.

One is the unique occasion when Mendelssohn, in admiration of the society’s pioneering work and in particular with his own works such as Elijah, dedicated and presented to the then secretary of the society a copy of his newly-completed setting of Psalm 114 when they met in Frankfurt.

One more recent performance is the live televised performance of Handel’s Judas Maccabeus in 2002 in the version re-orchestrated by Mozart, the only existing original material for which was discovered in the society’s archives.

Following the society’s long tradition of commissioning and performing new works it was decided to commission a major full length Oratorio for the beginning of the bicentenary celebrations.

The work is The Holy Face, composed by the prolific Philip Wilby, to a text based on the life of St John the Baptist, the Patron Saint of Halifax.

The premiere will be at the first concert of the 200th season on Sunday October 15, at 7.30pm in the Victoria Theatre, Halifax, when the choir will be joined by the North of England Classical Orchestra along with the choirs outlined in the main feature above and soloists Catrin Pryce-Jones, Emma Stannard, Peter Harris and Jerome Knox, with harp, organ and piano.

Then on Sunday, November 26, the choir will present the society’s 199th annual performance of Handel’s Messiah at the Victoria Theatre (6.30pm). This year the performance will be with Black Dyke Band with whom they recorded the work in 2001 and performed it at Symphony Hall, Birmingham in 2003.

There will be Carols & Brass performed with Black Dyke Band on Wednesday, December 6, at 7.30pm at the Victoria Theatre.

In the spring of 2018 the society will perform Haydn’s Creation - the first work to be performed by the society in 1817. For the occasion, on Sunday, April 15, 2018, at 7.30 pm in the Victoria Theatre, they hope to welcome back The Hanover Band performing on original instruments.

It is a special but expensive season to stage and the society would welcome the support of everyone at this memorable season of celebration concerts.