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Review

In Celebration of The Queen's Diamond Jubilee

The Royal Hall, Harrogate, 2 June 2012

Unashamedly patriotic and delightful

In Celebration of The Queen's Diamond Jubilee

There are some instances in the world of music when occasion, time, venue, performers and public come together to produce something which is more than the sum of its parts; such was the case on Saturday when some the finest of the area’s musicians, orchestral and choral, assembled for a concert In Celebration of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee. 

The occasion was clearly one for unashamedly patriotic and popular music with a royal flavour, and where better for such a grand event than Harrogate’s magnificent Royal Hall, reopened with all due pomp and ceremony by HRH The Prince of Wales four years ago? 

The impressive forces deployed before a large and eager audience, many of whom were adorned in various combinations of red, white and blue, were Harrogate Choral Society and an orchestra drawn together specially for the occasion by Henry Pankhurst, comprising some of our finest local orchestral musicians and led by Nic Meredith. 

The evening, stylishly conducted by Dr Andrew Padmore, Music Director of Harrogate Choral Society and engagingly compered with elegance and subtle wit by Marilynne Davies, Deputy Music Director of HCS, began aptly with Benjamin Britten’s setting of the National Anthem. The glittering Coronation March Crown Imperial by Sir William Walton followed, composed for the coronation of King George VI in 1937, which gave the magnificent brass section some fine moments of glory. 

There followed two well-loved choral works by Sir Hubert Parry, who was the conductor of the opening concert at the Royal Hall in 1903. In Blest Pair of Sirens, to a text by Milton, the orchestra engaged in sumptuous playing of Parry’s rich musical material and Andrew Padmore, setting a well-judged pace, brought out the subtle ebb and flow of this romantic Brahmsian score. The Coronation Anthem I Was Glad struck a thrilling note and built up to a splendid conclusion. The audience was next introduced to Sarah Fox, the Yorkshire born and highly accomplished soprano delighting the audience with her superb tone, clarity and joyful interpretation, the coloratura semiquavers in the Allelujah finale cascading like royal jewels. 

For the second half of the concert, we took a step back in time to the splendour of Handel’s ceremonial music. Such an occasion would not be complete without the traditional Last Night of the Proms finale and the orchestra, audience and choir, replete with union flags, and directed by Andrew Padmore, by now sporting a Union Jack waistcoat, gave a rousing Land of Hope and Glory refrain. 

Mark Pallant