Last night I went to see St Peters Consort in concert at the Wakefield Cathedral. I had neither seen them before, nor been in the Cathedral before. Both were equally as impressive.
The concert was certainly a game of two halves – the first being a selection of modern classical choral works and the second being the more familiar Faure’s Requiem.
The main item of the first half was Dove’s “The Passing of the Year”, set to seven poems which, together, detail the seasons and culminate in both lamentation over the death of one year and rejoicing over the coming of another. A really difficult piece to sing I should imagine, though the choir didn’t seem in the least bit stretched.
The highlight of the first half for me had to be “Cloudburst” written by Eric Whitacre. The piece, as its name suggests, is about rain and its spiritual place. I was impressed by the ease with which the choir tackled the dissonant tone clusters, and the way the sound swelled and faded as it does in a storm. I found the whole experience incredibly exciting and I was grinning from ear to ear at the end.
After the giddiness of the first half, I was all ready to relax and lay down in a bath of easy harmony, as prescribed by Gabriel Faure. However, this is something which is only really a pleasure if the performers are good. Luckily for me, the choir gave a rendition which was easily the best I’ve heard live. The organist too was fantastic. It all felt wonderfully smooth, and all the soloists were easily capable, particularly the soprano soloist who had a lovely pure tone.
All in all, a cracking concert. Talent in abundance and a perfect venue.
"Just returned from a wonderful concert by St. Peter's consort; the last under the direction of the brilliant Tom Moore. Some well-known carols, one or two new arrangements, but absolutely made my Christmas by including three amazing pieces - "Here is the little door", "A spotless rose", and "Sing lullaby", all by one of my favourite composers, Herbert Howells. I've had the pleasure of singing all three of these on many occasions, and they are just out of this world! Wakefield born Kenneth Leighton's "Lully, Lulla" was a bit special as well. Can now say I'm in the Christmas spirit!"
Graham Heley - (A director of the Yorkshire Philharmonic choir)
10th December 2015
"I've never heard the Consort before last night's stunning performance - best choir I've heard for a long time and I'm now a fully paid-up supporter, so to speak. Your soprano line is particularly excellent. thank you for such a superb evenng !!"
Paul Clarke 27th september 2015
"Gloria" - 27th September
”May I send our heartfelt congratulations and thanks for such a stunning performance at Wakefield Cathedral on 27th September.
I speak for all our players when I say Austonley Brass really enjoyed performing at your event - the highlight was sharing the stage with St Peter's Consort in the grand finale: John Rutter's magnificent "GLORIA". Between us we crafted a stylish performance that blended the sounds of the choir, brass and organ wonderfully.
The consort were phenomenal throughout the entire concert and I do hope that we are able to join forces again to 'raise the roof' of the stunning cathedral on another occasion in the future.
Handel's Messiah has, for better or worse, become inextricably associated with massed choirs and full orchestras - but it's unlikely the composer had Huddersfield Choral Society in mind when he wrote it more than 270 years ago. Instead he envisaged his grand oratorio being performed by a small group of singers and musicians, a combination splendidly recreated by St Peter's Consort and the Cathedral Strings in St. John's Church on Wednesday night.
The setting itself was a major contributor to the occasion, with both the architecture and acoustics of the 18th-century church assisting the sound and overall ambience to fine effect. However, such factors can only enhance if the performance is good to begin with - and this one was superb in all respects.
A small choir (on this occasion 20 singers) may be the 'proper' way to present Messiah but it also means it has to be fully in command of its material from start to finish. All four vocal sections of Consort achieved just that, from the subtlety required in the opening passages of Since by Man came Death, via the dexterity of Let Us Break Their Bonds Asunder, to a commendable effort to dislodge the recently-restored plasterwork with All We Like Sheep and, of course Hallelujah.
The balance between orchestra and singers was beautifully struck by conductor Tom Moore, music and voices always perfectly complementing one another, whether on the most rousing of choruses or sensitive solo parts.
All in all, an evening of musical excellence, demonstrating how the most familiar of material can be made fresh by suitably talented hands.
David Pickersgill (Edited)
Re. Concert on 9th December 2013 in aid of Macmillan Cancer Support
".....thank you ...for the wonderful concert you gave for us.... We have received so many comments on the excellence of your performance and choice of programme........ thoroughly enjoyed the evening..... thank you again!"
Dewsbury and Batley committee, Macmillan Cancer Support.
Re. Concert on 4th May 2013
'I have just spent a wonderful couple of hours listening to French music performed by the superb St. Peter's Consort, directed by Tom Moore, with Daniel Justin on the organ. Definitely an evening well spent!'
'it was a fantastic evening'
"a superb evening and well done to all the performers"
"the balance of voices was spot on""
"I was most impressed by the Debussy songs"
Re. concert of 15th September
"On behalf of the church I would like to thank you for bringing your splendid choir to sing for us...... We have had several choirs to sing for us in the past but I have to say yours was the finest. the harmony was superb and your programme gave us such variety. ..... Your Oganist's (Daniel Justin) solos were very much appreciated and he managed to get music from our organ the like of which we have not heard before!...... It was quite splendid.
"I just wanted to say a very big thank you to everyone, on behalf of Adel Church, for making the journey to come and sing there on Saturday.
I have had SO many positive and appreciative comments about the music, I wouldn't really know where to start, but suffice to say it was a big success .......... I don't think anyone can have failed to enjoy it."
"What a wonderful evening you gave us last Saturday. I enjoyed it enormously. Your choir is quite splendid. An amazing performance, and a really great social event!"
Re. concert of 19th May.
"The performances were all sheer delight. When I hear performance groups like yours my delight is boundless."
An admittedly biased report on the concert of 5th June 2010 !
"On reflection, I think it was probably the most near-perfect concert I've been involved in at any time in my musical career. There wasn't one work or piece in the programme that didn't have excellent musicianship and accuracy."
From the local press:
An eclectic birthday party for Felix
ST PETER'S CONSORT
Happy Birthday, Herr Mendelssohn
Saturday, September 19th 2009
The choir drew in the Wakefield Cathedral audience from the outset with the delicate tones of Tue es Petrus and Sicut Cervus, two a capello motets by Palestrina, successfully conveying the ethereal qualities of this spiritual music. It produced beautiful harmonies in Mendelssohn’s Hear My Prayer and showed its versatility in performing songs as diverse as The Blue Bird by C V Stanford, Autumn Leaves by Alan Simmons and versions of Yesterday and Moon River arranged by John Holt.
Despite the imbalance of male to female members, the choir’s vocal range and depth were unimpaired, and whether in performing The Beauty of Holiness, a technically difficult piece with a huge dramatic climax, by Kenneth Leighton, or the wonderfully melodic Cantique de Jean Racine by Gabriel Faure, it did not falter.
High levels of individual talent within the choir were suitably showcased by Victoria Barraclough, Kay Yates, Michael Benn, and Adrian Stephenson.
Nevertheless, it was the choir under the able direction of Tom Moore which had the final word with that rousing song Let All The People Praise Thee, O God by William Mathias, concluding this most rewarding concert which was long and loudly applauded by its appreciative audience.
Robert Cowan (Edited)
From the Yorkshire Post