Calypso Carol on Classic FM

11 December 2017

We are delighted to announce that our Calypso Carol will be played on Classic FM at 6.30pm on Wednesday 13 December 2017. It’s a wonderfully upbeat carol written by Michael Perry (1942-1996) for a college carol concert in 1964, before he became an Anglican vicar. Cliff Richard made it famous when he included it in a selection for radio. Our version was arranged by our Music Director Darius Battiwalla for brass band accompaniment and features the incomparable Black Dyke Band.

Chorus Chair Paul Henstridge explained ‘Each year Classic FM chooses five carols from submissions sent in by choirs from across the country, and we are thrilled that they have chosen another of the carols from our Awake Arise! CD after being successful in 2015 with Joy to the World from the same album. We hope listeners will enjoy the carol as much as we and the band do!’ Classic FM were really impressed by the standard; ‘what a very strong set of candidates we had this year – it’s been a real pleasure to listen to them!’

Many of the carols on Awake Arise! were chosen for their connection with Yorkshire’s long choral tradition, or with Sheffield in particular. Local traditional carols have been sung around the area since the late 19th century. Written by local folk, they are sung with enthusiasm and joy, mostly in local pubs. Local carols on this recording include ‘Awake, Arise’, ‘Hail, Smiling Morn!’, ‘Hark Hark’ (Tyre Mill) and ‘Christians, Awake’ (Egypt). Well-loved Christmas classics include ‘Joy to the World’, ‘I Saw Three Ships’ and ‘Hark! The Herald Angels Sing’. Darius Battiwalla’s arrangement of ‘O Holy Night’ was commissioned by the Chorus in memory of its former membership secretary, Miriam Gilchrist, and has become a firm favourite at our annual Christmas concerts at Sheffield City Hall.

Purchase our Awake Arise! Christmas CD


Composer thrilled with premiere of his new work

15 October 2017

Wow. What a choir! And what a concert!” Philip Wilby was clearly thrilled with the performance of his new work ‘The Holy Face‘, written to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the Halifax Choral Society, with whom our Chorus sang, along with the Yorkshire Youth Choir and the North of England Classical Orchestra. The work was premiered to a packed Victoria Theatre Halifax on 15 October 2017, following months of rehearsal by all three choirs, orchestra and soloists Catrin Pryce-Jones (soprano), Emma Stannard (mezzo), Peter Harris (tenor) and Jerome Knox (baritone). The concert included Mendelssohn’s Psalm 114 (When Israel out of Egypt came), dedicated to the Halifax Choral Society by the composer in 1839, and Bruckner’s Te Deum Laudamus.

The new work, an oratorio in the English tradition, celebrates the life of John the Baptist, patron saint of Halifax, a stylised image of whose head forms the town’s emblem. The text was assembled by the biblical scholar Canon Neville Boundy from various contemporary sources and the accounts of the four Gospels. His dramatic narrative includes the Birth of St John and the Baptism of Christ, with Herod’s Banquet, Salome’s Dance, and the final beheading. Composer Philip Wilby scored the piece for both orchestra and brass band, as well as including a substantial part for organ.

The Chorus was delighted to join musicians from across Yorkshire to perform this marvellous new work, difficult though it was, and especially thrilled with the composers reaction. “As a lad from Pontefract, I couldn’t have been prouder last evening, so marvellous was the delivery of this tricky new score.”

The solists and choirs recorded The Holy Face with the Black Dyke Band in July 2017, and the resulting CD is now available for purchase.