Mrs Sunderland 2016
This annual Music Festival is one of the best regarded in the country with 10 days of fine music making. It takes place in Huddersfield’s Town Hall and is a major cultural event with which Colne Valley Male Voice Choir
has had a long and happy association.
We won a prize there in a choral competition over 90 years ago, but for our first ‘First Prize’ we had to wait until 1929. We’ve been part of it, one way or another, ever since that first entry.
This year’s highlights for the Choir were our participation in a wider community event – a performance of 'The Armed Man’
by Karl Jenkins
The work was conducted by our very own,Thom Meredith
, with Colne Valley Boys fine accompanist, Chris Pullein
at the piano during the day’s rehearsals and singing with the tenors in the performance. It was so ably supported by a wonderful Kirklees Youth Symphony Orchestra
and close on 300 singers – including many Colne Valley members – took part.
It was a terrific event, made even more dramatic by laser lighting . Click here for a super 'son et lumiere' video.
The performers had spent all day Sunday (21st) rehearsing their rendition of this fabulous piece. The large audience was stunned at the completion of the work and then rose to its feet to applaud a deeply moving performance.
Any readers who don’t know the work can see a performance of it by following this link:-
The five soloists were excellent, especially, Osman Hussain
, who sang the Muezzin’s role so beautifully. The Orchestra was rich and full and the percussion, which plays such a role in providing the vivid pulse to many of the sections, was crisp and precise. The strings, particularly in supporting the solo cellist, Will Robertson,
who played the Benedictus with such haunting lushness, were just terrific.
No-one would have believed that the choral and orchestral components could have come together so well after just one day of rehearsal. It speaks volumes on the skills of Thom Meredith that he could help fashion such a good sound so quickly.
All of us who were there - whether on stage or in the audience - will remember it for years.
And the prize goes to.......
Saturday afternoon of the final day of the Festival saw Colne Valley men returning to the Town Hall and preparing to take the stage.
This time it was in competition:
male voice choirs - 21 voices & over (Class 93). The task was to perform two contrasting own choice pieces.
We began with Vaughan Williams
from his suite, ‘Five Mystical Songs’. This piece has a spectacular piano accompaniment, which few can play as well as maestro, Keith Swallow.
It’s a vibrant declaration of faith; ‘Let all the world in every corner sing, ‘My God and King.’
We were urged, regardless of our personal religious positions, to sing it with total conviction and great gusto. It’s a demanding piece and it’s meant to leave an audience feeling they have heard something special.
Our second piece was very different; ‘Prayer of the Children
’. This piece is heart-wrenchingly topical. It’s about the impact on children of war and conflict. All too often, it’s the children who lose their homes, their security and their families in conflicts over which they have neither choice nor control. The most recent focus for such cruelty is in Syria. The piece is sung unaccompanied.
The adjudicator commented on the performances.
The word, 'Outstanding
' was used about CVMVC.
And then came the moment of truth: Winners!
Second tenor, Peter Hatton,
The corollary of victory in our class is that we were invited to take part in the Choir Prize Winners Challenge
at the Last Night of the Festival
; the finale event to 10 days of music and competition at which exceptional groups and individuals are invited to perform once more and prestigious prizes such as ‘Kirklees Young Musician of the Year’
This year that prize went to cellist, Chris Mansfield,
a 24 year old, one-time member of Kirklees Youth Symphony Orchestra.
He performed Robert Schumann’s Adagio & Allegro
, opus 70, with exceptional virtuosity.
It was a privilege to be part of it and to see such much talent on display – so much of it nurtured by Kirklees Music School
Colne Valley sang, Herbert Sumsion’s
, ‘I was Glad’
and that crowd-pleaser, ‘The Lost Chord’
and we sung them very well.
However, we didn’t win the prize-winners challenge this year, which went to Opus 44.
a small but very accomplished female a-capella group. Their winning set was, 'Dashing away with a smoothing iron
’ and ‘And so it goes
It was, most Choir members agreed, a deserved victory for them and their conductor, Alison Pryce-Jones
and we wish them well.
We were just pleased not to have let ourselves down or our Musical Director, Thom Meredith
. He should regard this year’s Mrs Sunderland Festival as a personal triumph - and Colne Valley men can share in some small way in his achievements.