December 2022

Skipton Town Hall, Saturday 3rd December

A sell-out audience gathered in the magnificent surroundings of Skipton Town Hall for a collaborative concert between Skipton Choral Society and York Railway Institute Band.

The six-movement suite King Arthur, composed by Skipton Choral’s conductor Robert Webb and arranged by him for brass band, was originally scored for concert wind band. Cleverly depicting different versions of the tales of King Arthur, this was a very descriptive piece, with all the drama, contrast and soaring themes of a film score. The composer’s lifelong affinity with the legend of King Arthur came through clearly in the music. The band handled the complex arrangement with aplomb, with an excellent full sound and confident performances from the solo instruments.

Following this was Of Trumpets and Angels, a setting of sonnets 7 and 10 by John Donne, originally written for soloist, choir and orchestra by the band’s conductor David Lancaster and designed to be performed alongside Mozart’s Requiem. David’s arrangement for brass band for this concert (a world premiere!) was masterly, the fullness of the band blending well with, but never overpowering, the voices of the choir. This was a very challenging piece for soloist, choir and band and one to which they rose commendably under David’s clear direction. Soprano Jenny Webb’s clear tone was perfectly suited to hold the solo line and soar above choir and band.

The second half comprised the world premiere (another one!) of Mozart’s Requiem with accompaniment arranged for brass band, an intriguing premise that, on the whole, was extremely successful. Robert Webb’s clever and accomplished arrangement retained all the elements of the orchestral version and it was fascinating to hear this new take on an established choral piece. The band, with Robert conducting, successfully kept the equilibrium between accompaniment and voices with only the occasional moment when the details of the choral performance were lost in the full sound of the band. The choir’s performance was strong and assured, with the singers well-rehearsed enough to look up from their books and engage fully with the music. The fast fugal sections were handled with as much dexterity as the quieter, more reflective passages. The poignant Lacrymosa (the first eight bars of which was the last music Mozart ever wrote) was a triumph, the resounding closing chord rising to the rafters.

The performance was perfectly augmented by soloists Jenny Webb (soprano), Beth Mackay (contralto), Stuart Laing (tenor) and Richard Cressall (bass), whose strong voices did eminent justice to Mozart’s beautiful solo writing and blended well together in the exquisite quartets of the Recordare and Benedictus.


Overall, this was a well-disciplined, confident performance from instrumentalists and singers alike and the mix of well-known and contemporary was refreshing. A thoroughly enjoyable evening!

Sarah Glossop