Music resounds at Pennine classical festival

THE 26th Pennine Spring Music Festival resounded through Heptonstall Church during Spring Bank holiday week.

Enthusiastic singers and orchestral players joined for a week of classical music-making under musical director Nick Hodges, and newly-appointed choral director Keith Orrell.

On Monday, a remarkable charity fundraiser in aid of the Meningitis Trust was given by Opera North singers in memory of Justin Miles Olden. On Tuesday, The William Byrd Singers and Ensemble Versatilis visited the festival with a concert of chamber music.

Wednesday saw the combined Pennine Spring Music orchestral and choral forces give their first concert.

Beethoven’s Egmont Overture was followed by a less well-known piece by Wagner, performed by soprano Victoria Sharp, and a musical revelation. The concert finished with the substantial Brahms Serenade No.1.

Friday’s concert was a feast of contrasting repertoire.

Three songs were performed from Elgar’s The Bavarian Highlands. Michael’s Hurd’s Music’s Praise was given in a slightly shortened version. The choral contribution was completed with Vaughan Williams’s sublime Serenade To Music.

It felt held-back in parts, but soared occasionally, especially when the strong soprano section lifted the sound towards the highest rafters of the church roof!

An innovation was an appearance by Lawrence Killian’s newly-formed Minster Brass (Halifax), a quintet exploring music arranged from the Elizabethan (Farnaby) and pre-Baroque (Peuerl) eras.

Slipped into the programme was a piece of exquisite light music – unexpectedly by Shostakovich: Three Duets for Violin played by Lucy Blunden and Liz Taylor on violins, and Beccy Taylor on piano.