Report of Bury Choral Society’s performance of Handel’s Messiah
Bury Parish Church, Tuesday 19 November 2013 for ‘Bury Times’

Bury Choral Society love singing Handel, and Handel seems to love them back! Their Messiah under the inspiring leadership of the gifted and charismatic Sinead Hayes, formerly their Director of Music but now appearing as Guest Conductor at Bury Parish Church on Tuesday 19 November, was a triumph.

The choir had been well disciplined by their rehearsal conductor, Richard Youngman, and handled the delicate opening section of ‘For Unto Us a Child is Born’ with great sensitivity, and with contrasting power and passion as they led into ‘Wonderful, Counsellor…’

The ‘Amen’ chorus particularly needs infusing with colour and shaping of phrases if it is not to sound tedious at the end of the evening when the audience are beginning to think about electric blankets, but the choir did not disappoint, giving us exciting volume and power all the way to the final bars.

The four soloists were well-matched, with impeccable diction and technical polish. Tim Kennedy, tenor, in ‘Thy rebuke hath broken His heart’, and Hanna-Liisa Kirchin, mezzo- soprano, in ‘He was despised and rejected’, both showed a commitment to the Biblical text and a sincerity of expression which came close to raw grief.

Andrea Tweedale’s sweet, pure soprano floated effortlessly in a poignant ‘I know that my Redeemer liveth’, but her clear and precise semi-quaver passages in ‘Rejoice greatly’ and the joy in her expressive eyes showed how much at home she is in oratorio.

Louis Hurst’s rich, full bass-baritone came into its own in ‘The trumpet shall sound’, in which he was joined by trumpeter Mark Harrison. This was a thrilling partnership, the

electrifyingly clear, beautiful sound of the trumpet played with assured musicianship, combined with Louis Hurst’s vocal power and
his posture of confidence and command, made this aria one of the most exciting moments of a wonderful evening.

Accompanying oratorio on the organ is a huge task not to be undertaken lightly, for the organist does the work of an entire orchestra and may not allow his attention to lapse for a second. This heavy responsibility was competently shouldered by Jeffrey Makinson.

B.S. (Beryl Shepherd)