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CHRISTMAS FESTIVAL TRIUMPH
Colne Valley Male Voice Choir and Colne Valley Boys with Brighouse and Rastrick Band at Huddersfield Town Hall.
Sunday night saw the Town Hall in Huddersfield, packed as usual, to enjoy Colne Valley Male Voice Choir’s annual Christmas Concert. This year’s Festival, once again, had Brighouse and Rastrick Band as its main guest performers along with the Colne Valley Boys. There was a special guest in the audience, too: Patricia, Countess of Harewood, the Choir’s Patron.
The concert began, accompanied as always by keyboard maestro, Keith Swallow, with a rousing version of that fine carol, ‘On This Day Earth Shall Ring’. From that point on, audience and Choir alike knew they were in for a night of fine seasonal entertainment and high quality music. Concert compere, the inimitable Simon Lindley, warmed up the welcome and introduced internationally famous, Brighouse and Rastrick Band.
Under their Conductor, Garry Cutt, they began their contribution with Leroy Anderson’s ever-popular ‘Christmas Festival’. The Band, once again Yorkshire Area Champions - which arguably means the best in the World - played with all their usual skill and artistry. Perhaps their finest piece of the evening was, ‘The Witch of the Westmerlands’, which featured amazing virtuosity by Ciaran Young on the baritone horn and Stuart Lingard on cornet.
Then it was the turn of the Colne Valley Boys. Their plaintive version of ‘Bethlehem’ (accompanied on the piano by rising star, Chris Pulleyn) and their final number, ‘Believe’, from Polar Express touched the audience’s heartstrings and triggered enthusiastic applause.
The first half climaxed with Band, Choir and Boys performing together in Requiem for a Soldier, the theme tune from the TV series, Band of Brothers, specially arranged by the Choir’s Musical Director, Thom Meredith. Amongst Thom’s many achievements in the musical life of the district, he has recently celebrated 25 years as the Choir’s conductor.
Colne Valley Male Voice Choir, now in its 93rd
year, has been described as a ‘Rolls Royce’ of Choirs and with well over 60 members on stage on Sunday certainly displayed quiet power as it purred through Robat Arwyn’s ‘Benedictus’ and effortlessly backed soloist, Raymond Ellis, through the beautiful Christina Rosetti carol, ‘Love came down at Christmas’. Then the Choir eased through the demanding pianissimo passages that begin Wagner’s ‘Pilgrims’ Chorus’ before putting its foot down, never showing any sign of strain, for the big finish; the final ‘Halleluja’.
The audience’s thoroughly good night was brought to a conclusion by the haunting, ‘Irish Blessing’, “...and until we meet again, may the God that loves us all, hold you in the palm of his hand”.
Colne Valley Male Voice Choir and Colne Valley boys in rehearsal for last Sunday’s Town Hall Concert