Sunday 11th November 2018 Bolton Abbey Priory Church
Cantores Salicium: A Concert for Peace and Remembrance
Bolton Abbey Sunday November 11th 2018
The most recent concert to be given by the exceptional Cantores Salicium, a Long Preston based choir, took place at the Priory Church, Bolton Abbey on Remembrance Sunday, to commemorate the centenary of the Armistice in music and readings. The packed church was suitably decorated with displays of poppies and the silhouette of a Tommy, part of the ‘There but Not There’ installation, provided a constant reminder that this was ‘A Concert for Peace and Remembrance’, an apt title, given the reflective and tranquil start to the programme. Under the skilful direction of Lindy Williams, we were treated to a haunting rendition of Tomas Luis de Victoria’s
Taedet animam meam vitam meae (My Soul is Weary of Life) performed unaccompanied, a speciality of this choir, from the tower. There followed two poems: Ernst Toller’s ‘Marschlied’ (Marching Song) delivered expertly by Anna Wood and ‘Les Morts’ (The Dead) by René Arcos, spoken with great passion by Jessica Mahler. The rhythms and cadences of the German and French poetry contrasted wonderfully with the thought-provoking readings by Gail Jones and Phil Simnett of John Donne’s ‘No man is an island’ and Wilfred Owen’s ‘Strange Meeting’ whose final line, ‘Let us sleep now’ was a lovely link into the Mozart Requiem. Other works in the first part of the concert were Orlando di Lasso’s Justorum animae in manu Dei sunt which opened with the clear and graceful notes of the female voices and the Plainsong: Ego sum resurrectio et vita which appeared effortless in its simplicity due to the quality of the tenor and bass voices.
For Mozart’s Requiem the choir was joined by Camerata Salicium led by Rebecca Howell, a post-graduate student at the Royal Northern College of Music (RNCM). Formed in 2017, one of the aims of Camerata Salicium is to provide opportunities for young musicians to play alongside professional and experienced amateur performers. For this concert the young players were Rebecca Stapleton, violin, Ben Buckner, bassoon and Joe Brown, tenor trombone. In addition Harvey Stansfield, a young organ scholar, had accompanied an earlier choir rehearsal and Bill Arber, a year nine pupil from Settle College, had written an article about the Armistice for the programme.
The combined choir and orchestra provided a dramatic opening to the Requiem followed by the soaring notes of soprano Linda Harvey, one of four soloists appearing by kind permission of the RNCM. The orchestra brought a real depth to the performance especially the marvellous trombones and timpani. There were great moments of light and shade, the choir’s clarity of diction enabled them to handle the difficult counterpoint sections with precision. The voices of the quartet, comprising Linda Harvey (soprano) Charlotte Badham (mezzo-soprano), Michael Gibson (tenor) and James Berry (bass) blended beautifully with the strings in the Tuba mirum. The powerful start of Confutatis was offset by the purity of the Sopranos and Altos with the gentle ending leading into the exquisite and perhaps most well-known of the movements, Lacrimosa, the final moments of which were breathtaking, from the lyrics, ‘grant them eternal rest’ to the echo that resonated around the Priory. The soloists really came into their own during the Benedictus and the trombones were truly spine-tingling. With the strong harmonies of the Agnus Dei leading into the last movement, the concert concluded with a magnificent final cadence in the Lux aeterna followed by rapturous applause from an appreciative audience. I felt privileged to have experienced an afternoon of such excellent music and musicianship. Congratulations to all involved.
Saturday 14th May 2016 Bolton Abbey Priory Church
On Saturday (14th May) evening my wife and I, together with an almost packed audience, very much enjoyed the choral and instrumental concert entitled 'Alleluia' staged at Bolton Abbey Priory Church, in aid of local charity Yorkshire Dales Millennium Trust, of which I am a Trustee.
The choir, Cantores Salicium, conducted by director Lindy Williams, was quite superb and together with five young instrumentalists, reached extraordinary heights of professionalism in performing a very stimulating and diverse programme.
It included pieces from William Byrd, Henry Purcell and Georg Handel, more modern Japanese and Brazilian works played on a marimba, and a setting of Psalm 121 by the choir's president Nicholas O'Neill.
Entitled 'Levavi oculos', this new composition is the first work to be specially commissioned for the choir. The length of the applause at the conclusion was a testament to their skill.
Surely there can be few more beautiful venues than the Priory for such an event with its magnificent acoustics and inspiring architecture.
I urge that all who have the chance, go and see Cantores Salicium perform, they were fabulous!
Almost £1500 was raised for the charity to support a range of projects that care for the landscape, environment, economy and communities of the Yorkshire Dales.
As published in he Yorkshire Times
CANTORES SALICIUM – Kirkby Malham, Saturday October 18th 2014
The main work in the 'Cantores Salicium' concert last Saturday, October 18th, at St. Michael the Archangel Church, Kirkby Malham, was Mozart's Requiem, the longest and biggest work the choir has tackled to date. This was preceded by a number of works by Victoria, Tallis and Byrd.
This is an excellent choir, characterised throughout the earlier works by an impressively assured technique, a wonderful clarity of tone, great variety of dynamic and immaculate diction. All these qualities were maintained in the Mozart Requiem.
Conductor Lindy Williams adopted generally brisk tempi for the Mozart which maintained the drama of this unique work throughout without ever compromising its more reflective passages.
The solo parts were taken by members of the choir, Lucy Checker, Jo Wulf, who stood in at the last moment for Cheryl Arber in the Domine Jesu, Jessica Mahler, who stood in for Cheryl in the Recordare and the Benedictus at 48 hours’ notice, Phil Andrew, Kenn Green, Chris Weston, Danny Powell and Phil Simnett , all of whom were impressive, combining most effectively in the lyrical parts of the Recordare and the Benedictus.
The choir was joined for the Mozart by organist Nicholas O'Neill, the choir's president, who also delivered an instructive and very entertaining introduction to the work. Recreating orchestral textures on the organ brings unique challenges, met superbly and consistently by O'Neill, who conveyed all the varying colours of the score flawlessly.
November 24th 2013 Giggleswick School Chapel
Morning, noon and night: music for Canonical Hours, Cantores Salicium
24 hours of song were pressed into a little over an hour in Giggleswick School Chapel on Sunday evening. Cantores Salicium performed a programme of music and song that gave an interpretation of the eight services that constituted the Monastic Divine Offices. Inspired by a trip to Fountains Abbey, the programme drew upon many musical styles, ancient and modern. From the plainsong normally associated with monastic life through renaissance polyphony and baroque, to the twentieth century. It was a treat for the ears from the very start, with singers performing a call to prayer using the chapel’s balcony and organ loft to great effect. Highlights for me included Holst’s Nunc Dimitis, Tomas Luis de Victoria’s Missa O quam gloriosum, and organist Jason Lowe’s rendition of J.S. Bach’s Fugue on the Magnificat. The final piece, Thomas Tallis’ In manus tuas, demonstrated how complex, difficult and challenging pre-renaissance music can be, with its many changes of time signature and the choir performed it admirably. This window on the structure of Abbey life made for a very pleasant evening.