For Beethoven concert December 2021
This is the first time we have given a performance since December 2019 and little did we know what was in store.
We cancelled an April concert 3 weeks before the performance; we rehearsed on zoom; we rehearsed in the old Marks and Spencer building for 4 weeks in October 2020, and then we just had no alternatives left. Our Director Richard Bloodworth and I have kept abreast of all covid related developments and kept in touch with Making Music for all their advice about singing and performing.
By September we were convinced that there was an overwhelming desire among our members to return to singing. We started rehearsals in September, always mindful of the precautions we needed to take. The path has not been smooth – singers found the enjoyment gained from singing was not quite the same when distanced, hard pews and a sometimes chilly and definitely airy church added to our challenges.
However, we have come through all that, welcomed the Mowbray orchestra, four vocal soloists, and the local pianist Alison Gill to a rehearsal in the afternoon and were delighted that we had an appreciative audience for the concert in the evening.
The all- Beethoven concert offered three works: a short cantata A calm sea and a prosperous voyage, a setting of two poems by Goethe, Piano Concerto no 5 (Emperor), where Alison displayed all the virtuoso playing that this concerto demands and was ably and sensitively matched by the playing of the orchestra. The final work was Mass in C, an intricate piece, musically very different from the better- known masses of Haydn, but full of religious fervour. The choir, soloists and orchestra were perfectly blended and woven into each other to make a beautiful sound.
Our thanks go to Richard Bloodworth for masterminding this wonderful Beethoven programme and to the audience who supported us.
For Handel's Messiah November 2019
"The performance by Darlington Choral Society of Handel’s Messiah - a masterpiece, not only as a musical composition but also as a sacred text - brought delight to the capacity audience. When I asked an audience member whether she had enjoyed the performance, she immediately replied “What’s not to like?”
Conducted by the talented Richard Bloodworth, the choir gave their all to portray the various moods and colours running through the piece. From the very opening, the members of the Mowbray Orchestra showed their professionalism with precise and sensitive playing. A particular highlight for me was the solo trumpet in ‘The Trumpet Shall Sound’, but the orchestra accompanied both choir and soloists with equal skill.
The soloists, Ruth Jenkins-Robertsson (soprano), Valerie Reid (mezzo soprano), Austin Gunn (tenor) and Andri Bjorn Robertsson (bass baritone) gave very fine performances. Their understanding of the text and the clarity of enunciation certainly held the attention of the audience.
I hope the audience went home on a cold night feeling uplifted and grateful that they can hear good performances locally."
Darlington & Stockton Times
For Verdi Requiem November 2017
"DARLINGTON Choral Society joined by members from Richmondshire, Yarm and Opera Nova Societies formed a large choir for a performance of Verdi's Requiem, an iconic work in the choral repertoire which tests performers to the full.
At the onset a beautifully hushed "Requiem aeternam" was followed by a thrilling, awesome, full-blooded "Dies irae." The contrasts of dynamics and constantly changing emotions and textures were confidently highlighted throughout. An excellent team of visiting soloists (Elin Pritchard, Marie Elliott, Alexander James Edwards and Timothy Dickinson) not only blended well together as a team but interacted with the choir to superb effect.
There were many glorious moments for the well attended and responsive audience to enjoy. Two of the most challenging sections can be the more complex textures of the "Sanctus" and "Libera me, Domine" especially for a large choir, but not tonight.
Essential for a successful performance of this great work is an experienced orchestra. It is a very demanding score and requires technique and sensitivity from all. The Mowbray Orchestra, as expected, was outstanding in the support given to the choirs.
The Music Director, Richard Bloodworth must be thrilled with what he achieved in his masterly direction of the 200 plus musicians. The weeks of hard work (from all) and expertise on the night resulted in an exhilarating experience for all of us privileged to be in the audience"
Vince Smith - Northern Echo
"...... To say that this was thrilling and dramatic was to state the obvious but listening to a live performance with such forces brings out the enormous range far more vividly. The combined choirs were in wonderful voice throughout, the orchestra provided tremendous support - spectacularly so in the exciting Dies Irae - and the soloists in all their various permutations added colour and individual expression, with the whole thing coordinated and paced most effectively by Richard Bloodworth."
Peter Bevan - Darlington & Stockton Times
For Spring Concert April 2017:
In April we performed a selection of music from the 17th to 20th centuries at Holy Trinity Church in Darlington. The programme included works by Monteverdi, Bruckner, Holst and Faure's 'Requiem'.
"A really lovely uplifting concert, very well performed and very varied and enjoyable."
"The choir .... sang with great clarity, richness of sound and dramatic effect..."
"A spirited performance of Monteverdi’s Beatus Vir built to a confident delivery of the final ecstatic Gloria. A collection of Bruckner motets contrasted the beautifully sung prayerful Ave Maria and Locus Iste with the raw power and drama of Ecce Sacerdos. Choir and organ left the audience in no doubt as to the pomp of an important religious procession."
"The most substantial work of the evening was Faure’s Requiem Mass - a most appropriate choice for the evening before Holy Week. This moving and inspirational piece was sensitively performed with strong contributions from Paulina Rossi and Arthur Berwick. The depth of feeling from the choir in the final In Paradisum concluded an uplifting evening."
For Handel's Theodora:
"The chorus played their dual roles with great distinction providing tremendous dramatic intensity, contrast and colour. The clarity of the soprano tone was particularly impressive."
"The soloists (Lucy Hall, Marie Elliott, Ben Williamson, James Edwards and Arthur Berwick) were outstanding and every bit as sensational as had been promised."
".......an accomplished band of instrumentalists under the masterful musical leadership of Richard Bloodworth....."
(Photos on this website by courtesy of – http://vocalrecording.co.uk/)
For A Royal Jubilee!
"....under the accomplished baton of Richard Bloodworth, the Choral Society with the Darlington Sinfonia and soloists provided an evening of music worthy of a royal tribute..."
".....excellent diction, beautiful dynamic range with confident and mellifluous tones from the men...."
"....Parry's I was glad was just spine tingling....."