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York singers put on Zoom performance for Princess Beatrice

York Press, 8th July 2020
By Haydn Lewis, Live News Editor 

A group of singers from York got to perform for a princess this week.

York Musical Society (YMS), a thriving choral group with hundreds of members, welcomed the Queen’s granddaughter, Princess Beatrice to a Zoom performance of Handel’s Coronation Anthems.

They were also joined by patrons Sir Ron Cooke and Dr Richard Shephard, and vice-presidents Lady Gillian Barron and Philip Moore along with his wife Allison, and Kurt Calder from sponsors, The Shepherd Group.

A group spokesman said: “As we have adapted to the strange times this term and rehearsed via Zoom, we decided to treat our last two sessions as virtual concerts, complete with concert dress.

“Princess Beatrice joined us for the first two anthems and spoke enthusiastically about how everyone has adapted to the situation, and that she is looking forward to being able to join us in person sometime in the not too distant future.”

Like many other cultural activities, YMS concerts and face-to-face rehearsals are cancelled for the whole of 2020 and the YMS committee has also made the decision to cancel their planned November concert and the choral workshop in January next year.

They will reconvene their usual Monday evening rehearsals at St Olave’s School in January.

As the committee email to members puts it: “We know this will be a huge disappointment, but we must make the health of our members and audiences our priority, and adhere to Government guidelines. If the situation changes and it becomes possible for us to get together sooner than January, then we will certainly arrange something.”

YMS activities during Covid-19 lockdown

 

May 13, 2020 by Charles Hutchinson

York Musical Society embraces remote rehearsal revolution for singing therapy

YORK Musical Society’s online rehearsals are on song and on trend, as the Monday sessions on Zoom go from strength to strength.

Session host Lesley Peatfield says: “We’ve been running them from the start of the lockdown, and I’m especially proud as a lot of our older members have successfully navigated the software to be able to manage this.

“Some have even got their first computers for lockdown to be able to appear at our regular Monday night events.”

As many as 80 singers join in, their ages ranging from an 18-year-old bass to 90. “We meet at 7pm for the sopranos and altos and 8pm for the tenors and basses, an hour each every Monday evening, when either David Pipe, our musical director, or John Bradbury, our accompanist, each take a session, leading from the piano, and swap over each week,” says Lesley.

“As well as hosting, I keep each session running technically and answer questions in the chat box.”

In the week the nation went into Covid-19 lockdown, York Musical Society was to have performed at York Minster. “That should have been a night of Faure’s Requiem, alongside a less well-known Michael Haydn requiem, which is so beautiful,” says Lesley.

“We had to cancel, of course, but we do hope to offer that programme sometime next year.”

Coming next, on Saturday, June 13 at York Minster, would have been YMS’s summer concert, Splendours of the Baroque, a joyful programme of Vivaldi’s Gloria, Marcello’s Trumpet Concerto in D minor, Handel’s Arrival Of The Queen Of Sheba and Handel’s Coronation Anthems.

“We’ve had to cancel that concert too,” says Lesley. “The Corona-tion anthems – Zadok The Priest, Let Thy Hand Be Strengthened, The King Shall Rejoice and My Heart Is Inditing – and have never been more appropriate,” says Lesley, poignantly.

After one Zoom rehearsal, Lesley wrote on social media: “Over 80 members joined us for a bit of note bashing for Vivaldi and Handel. Even though we may never perform this, the feeling of the community coming together is priceless.”

Members’ post-session comments to Lesley on the chat line testify to the “virtual” rehearsals being such a breath of fresh singing air amid the pandemic. “Thank you – this is the highlight of my week in lockdown,” said one.

“A very big ‘thank you’ for the Monday evening rehearsals, which I am very much enjoying, and for sending the scores out – much easier to follow,” wrote another. “Thank you to David [Pipe] and to John [Bradbury] for their patience and efforts and to Lesley for her expertise in enabling the sessions.”

A third commented: “I’d just like to express my thanks to you all for organising these online rehearsals. I think David is too modest about how valuable they are musically. We can learn a lot at this stage.

“There is no doubt they are a huge boost to the morale of all the individual members, restoring our sense of community and connection to those we cannot meet in person.” 

A fourth enthused: “It is amazing how some proper singing, even over only half an hour, leaves one with such a good feeling inside.  Can’t wait for the next session.”

The Zoom uplift each Monday is best summed up by one member, who confessed to “enjoying it far more than I thought I would”, concluding that “Singing is pure therapy”.

Such a sentiment no doubt will be shared by so many other singing groups in York and beyond, now in the grip of the “remote rehearsal revolution”, be it Ewa Salecka’s “Prima Virtual Ensemble” or Jessa Liversidge’s myriad groups.

Looking ahead, Lesley says: “We’re rehearsing with a view to an informal performance for friends and family at St Olave’s School, where we normally rehearse in the Shepherd Hall, whenever we manage to get back to face-to-face rehearsals.” Roll on that day.

from: charleshutchpress.co.uk

Review of St John Passion at York Minster, 6th April 2019

Review: York Musical Society, St John Passion,
York Minster, April 6

From The Press, York, 25 April 2019

By Martin Dreyer

THE architecture of Bach’s first Passion is geared for dramatic impact. The York Musical Society choir was in confident form on Saturday (April 6) under the cool direction of David Pipe and there was plenty of theatre in its “crowd” interventions.

The evening got off to a tentative start, with a diffident opening chorus. But nerves were shed thereafter and all four sections revealed a refreshing directness in attack. Best of all, eyes were well out of copies and on the conductor, a sure sign of good preparation. The cry of “Barabbas” was spine-tingling. Special credit goes to the tenors whose vigour belied their relatively small numbers.

Paul Smy was the highly competent Evangelist, tailoring his narrative smoothly. The scourging of Jesus was particularly chilling. Julian Tovey’s diction as Jesus was not as focused and constant use of his score diminished his gravitas. He sang from the pulpit (where surely the Evangelist should have been).

Chloë Latchmore’s mezzo-soprano is a real find. Her strong resonance was most effective in “It is finished”, with the lion of Judah on a stirring rampage. Definitely one to watch. Philippa Boyle’s incisive soprano was well suited to the building. David Pike made a genuine character of Pilate and his bass arias were punchy. He could afford to keep more still, as could tenor Nathan Vale who “conducted” himself.

The orchestra was efficient, even if some obbligato roles were under-coloured. It was the choir that took the laurels.

Martin Dreyer

Review of St Matthew Passion, 24th March 2018

Review: York Musical Society, St Matthew Passion, York Minster, March 24

from York Press 28 March 2018

It is hard to think of what might surpass J.S. Bach’s St Matthew Passion (1727) as the greatest of all sacred musical works for the Christian church. Bach never wrote an opera, but he did dramatic music nevertheless.

With a libretto by Picander (Christian Friedrich Henrici), the St Matthew Passion is, first, a fast-moving narrative of Jesus’s arrest, trial and execution and, second, a reflective piece in which soloists comment on the emotional and spiritual significance of that narrative.

It is demanding for all musicians involved: double orchestra, full choir, separate treble choir, four soloists and separate Evangelist and Jesus. Bach, guided by his devout Lutheran faith, wrote Jesus’s part in red ink in the manuscript and his recitatives are always accompanied not only by continuo but by a halo of strings.

The overall architecture of the piece was persuasively presented. Under principal conductor David Pipe, YMS made a moving and convincing spiritual drama of this challenging work, singing in English translation. Bach’s expansive opening chorus (“Come ye daughters, share my wailing”) was beautifully rendered with a Via Dolorosa tread, as was the equally demanding final chorus with its bitter-sweet discordant decorations.

Bach ends the St Matthew Passion, like the earlier St John Passion (1724), at Jesus’s death, not with his resurrection: the composer knew that much of the best in music comes from sorrow, not from triumph. But David Pipe managed to find exactly the right level of reassurance in that last chorus – “Sleep thou sweetly” – so that it did not feel like the end of the story.

Excellent obbligato playing gave the reflective arias emotional coherence and musical shape (Orchestra 2 was even more assured in the strings than Orchestra 1).

Paul Smy was an elegant, if understated Evangelist and Jonathan May a light yet moving Jesus, singing from the pulpit. The best soloist, mezzo soprano Kate Symonds-Joy, brought remarkable colour and intensity to her role, especially in the most moving of all the arias, Have Mercy, My God. The remaining aria soloists were Anita Watson (soprano), Ben Thapa (tenor) and Alex Ashworth (bass).

Pipe controlled the considerable forces required for this Baroque masterpiece with poised authority and with a sense of having fully inhabited the work. YMS is now a choir that impresses each time it performs – and in widely differing repertoire. A memorable evening.

Review by Francis O’Gorman

November 2017

After the excitement of our recent concert at York Barbican we are straight back into rehearsals for our Christmas concert. This will be held at the St Lawrence Parish Church on Saturday the 9th of December at 4pm. A wonderful way to get you in the Christmas mood.

September 2017

We are now taking bookings for the ever popular Choral Workshop which is themed around Famous Operatic Choruses.

There is a section under the Concerts and Events tab, or go straight to the Eventbrite booking page via this link.

Book early as this is a very popular event and often sells out.