Those who attended Bury Choral Society’s performance of Handel’s rarely sung oratorio Judas Maccabaeus at All Saints Church, Stand, enjoyed a real treat.

The choir of about sixty (a few more tenors would be helpful), with good diction, and most attentive to the direction of their charismatic Spanish conductor Juan Ortuno, traced the story of the Jews’ struggle for religious freedom from the Syrians in the last century BC, whilst the four young soloists (all with the wonderful breath control that Handel always demands) played the parts of the various characters involved.

The delightful soprano Sally Woan and the deep mezzo Laura Wood not only sang their solos beautifully, but also combined in many duets, notably ‘O lovely peace’.

The part of Judas Maccabaeus was sung by Joseph Buckmaster, a stunning tenor, with wonderful top notes (as illustrated in ‘Sound an alarm), and he was ably complemented by Peter Lidbetter (a late replacement) whose deep, rich bass voice was ideally suited to the music, as in ‘Arm,arm ye brave’.

The singers were most ably supported by the Bury Camerata Ensemble (recent graduates from RNCM), Audrey Peach on Harpsichord ( a welcome return) and Elin Rees (organist at Bury Parish Church) on the organ.

The next concert, on Tuesday 12th November, at the same venue, is a performance of Elgar’s rarely performed work, ‘The Apostles’, and I am already looking forward to it. Be there!