July 2023

The Sprig of Thyme, Saturday, July 1 2023 Christ Church, Skipton.

SKIPTON Choral were in fine voice for their summer concert, under conductor Robert Webb and accompanied by a fine instrumental ensemble led by Louise Jones.

The first half consisted of “A Sprig of Thyme”, a sequence of British folk songs in generally unpretentious arrangements by John Rutter.

It was a real treat to hear these lovely melodies, more and less familiar, sung with such beautiful tone and phrasing; all sections of the choir shared the honours, but sopranos and tenors in particular stood out.

Sadly the words fared less well in the resonant acoustic of Christ Church; perhaps in future the choir could consider printing the words in the programme, even for music in English, and especially for songs which tell a story? The instrumental group accompanied with great sensitivity, with notable contributions from harp, flute and viola.

After the interval we exchanged rural England for 18th century Venice and Vivaldi’s ever fresh setting of the Gloria. Choir and orchestra brought fine verve and rhythmic drive to the fast movements and sensitive and expressive phrasing to the quieter “Et in terra pax” and “Domine Deus, agnus Dei”. Soloist Beth Mackay brought off a real tour-de-force by singing all the solo numbers, soprano and alto, and would no doubt have sung both parts in the duet “Laudamus te” had multi-tracking facilities been available (as it was, Robert’s flexible falsetto voice provided her “echo”).

Among the many nice touches from the instruments the string playing in “Laudamus te” and the oboe solo in “Domine Deus, rex coelestis” were outstanding. Altogether a most enjoyable performance, and a fine ending to a year’s music making.