The 175th Anniversary Concert was a performance to celebrate the achievements of Bury Choral Society over so many years, and it certainly did. It was also a sad evening because this was the last concert that the Music Director Sinead Hayes would be the Conductor. She will be sadly missed, as she brought a resurgence and quality to the choir.
The evening started with the Beethoven Choral Fantasy for piano, choir and orchestra. The pianist, Jonathan Ellis, gave the performance a tremendous start by his virtuoso playing, and fully deserved the ovation he received at the finish. The choir sang with the clarity and verve needed for this piece, helped by the Bury Camerata orchestra which gave excellent support and rose to the demands of the work.
We were then entertained by the Unsworth Primary School Choral Group. Katie Geelan, the teacher responsible, deserves much credit for the outstanding, polished and talented performance given by the young children. They gave us rich quality entertainment with harmonies rarely achieved by such young singers.
The highlight for me was the first performance of Cotton Mills by Zakiya Leeming. The work had been commissioned by the Society and truly wove the tapestry of a Lancashire cotton mill. The clattering of the looms was replayed in the lu-lu- rhythms and many other interesting features. The final section looks back with regret – no bobbins, spindles and shuttles left: a distant memory. This was a really evocative and intense memory of the cotton mills.
Finally we were treated to the Rossini Stabat Mater with its glorious melodies and great choral writing. Orchestra, choir and soloists all rose to the occasion and gave us a superb ending. Sara Helsby-Hughes made a tentative start but grew as the evening progressed. Outstanding was the mezzo Helen Sherman, who has lovely controlled tone and a super musical line.
The Bass soloist John Anthony Cunningham and Tenor Nicholas Sales gave us a forthright and meaningful account of the piece.
Altogether this was an excellent evening of music enjoyed by all present. Thank you Bury Choral Society for such a splendid occasion.