About Halifax Choral Society

Sorry it’s been a bit quiet on here – blame pressures of the day job and the build-up to our Summer Prom (follow us on Facebook and Twitter for more regular updates).

HCS summer flier

To make up for it, here’s some background info on HCS – who we are, how we started and where we are heading:

 

“Believed to be the oldest choral society in the world, Halifax Choral Society has an unbroken record of performance since its foundation in 1817 by William Priestley, a gentleman wool merchant as well as a talented amateur musician and antiquarian. One evening late in 1817, William had a dinner party for his musical friends at his home, New House, Lightcliffe (since rebuilt and known as The Grange). At that meal Priestley, with his love of good choral music, devised with his friends a permanent choir, to be known as Halifax Choral Society. The first performance took place in the Halifax Court House: Haydn’s The Creation, performed on Monday 9th February 1818. Another early work to become a fixture was Handel’s Messiah, which is believed to have been performed annually by the choir each Christmastide since 1818.

Since these Georgian beginnings, the Halifax Choral Society has continued to thrive as it has grown in stature and reputation. Even in Victorian times its members were considered proficient enough to be invited to sing for Queen Victoria in Buckingham Palace in June 1860. Over the ensuing years HCS has performed the vast majority of the choral repertoire to enviably high standards.

HCS is a thriving and enterprising choir, widely considered to be amongst the foremost of its genre. Many amateur music groups will feel rightly a justified sense of achievement if they are able to perform a complex work and have a sense of pride if the the performance goes without a hitch. However HCS cannot be content to perform to that level. We seek to interpret the music and present a polished professional programme of music. Because of these high expectations, HCS is able to accept invitations to join other major choirs (eg: Carlow Choral Union, Edinburgh Royal Choral Union, Leeds Philharmonic Chorus, Sheffield Philharmonic Chorus) to perform larger complex works. Such “exchange visits” give members the opportunity to perform larger choral works in different venues in Yorkshire and further afield and to promote our hometown, Halifax.

concert

The Society’s high profile has been reflected in performances which have been broadcast nationally. The world premiere of its treasured and unique long-lost Mozart orchestration of Handel’s Judas Maccabeus was recorded for broadcast by the BBC and also networked in the USA. Other broadcasts have included: Carols and Brass (for Radio), Songs of Praise (televised on BBC1), a live BBC Radio 3 performance with the Halle of Prokofiev’s Cantata for the 25th Anniversary of the October Revolution (sung in Russian) from the Bridgewater Hall, Manchester. HCS has also featured in the Opera Gala and Extravaganza Concerts, promoted by the Raymond Gubbay Organisation, at the Bridgewater Hall and the Manchester Arena.

HCS has made some well-received CD recordings (Summer Prom, Carols and Brass and Messiah with the Black Dyke Band and Christmas Song with Fodens’ Band) plus a DVD of Karl Jenkins’ The Armed Man, recorded live at a performance by HCS and Black Dyke Band in the presence of the composer in Birmingham Symphony Hall.

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To ensure continuing high standards of singing, HCS has engaged its current professional artistic director, John Pryce-Jones, for the past 25 years. John is also Musical Director of the Northern Ballet Sinfonia (based in Leeds.) He takes the HCS weekly rehearsals as well as conducting all performances. In addition, HCS engages a regular professional accompanist, David Houlder.

The choir is made up of around 110 amateur members, from all walks of life, who enjoy singing to professional standards. members range in age from teenagers to octogenarians and come mainly from the local community, but increasingly from other parts of West Yorkshire and Lancashire too. HCS is a very friendly, open organisation that extends a warm welcome to all new members.

 

Each season the choir usually promotes and presents a full season of concerts in its home concert hall – the Victoria Theatre, Halifax -and in the town’s beautiful medieval Minster. The programme usually comprises major concerts in Spring and Autumn, an annual performance of Handel’s Messiah and, with the Black Dyke Band, Carol Concerts in December and a Summer Concert in June that aims to be lighthearted in the spirit of the Last Night of the Proms. There may also be external engagements carried out during the year.

 

minster

The choir is now fast approaching its bicentenary concert season in 2017-2018, which we will celebrate with concerts that both mark its long history and emphasise its commitment to the future. There are few musical organisations that can trace their history as far back as HCS and accordingly the Society feels that our 200th consecutive season and our ambitions to continue to be a leading Choral Society is of major and lasting significance in the arts world. T o mark this momentous year, already completed and funded is a new full length oratorio for orchestra or brass band, SATB choir and children’s choir composed for HCS by Philip Wilby. This is entited the Holy Face and celebrates the life and death of the patron saint of Halifax, John the Baptist, after whom the town was allegedly named – Halifax being a derivation of early English “Holy-face”.

 

 

Great trembling there will be when the Judge descends from Heaven…

There are many things I love about singing with HCS, but possibly my favourite is the lead-up to a performance – when the rehearsals are going well, the pieces are constantly running through my mind and I can’t wait to be on stage and giving my best. For me, it’s a bit like the night before a big exam at medical school, when I’d revised until my brain hurt and I wanted to prove what I could do. The sheer passion and drama of Mozart’s Requiem fuels this feeling perfectly. My GCSE Latin days are a long time ago, though, so I turned to the trusty internet to find a translation of what we will be singing and found an excellent one on http://www.stmatthews.com/choir/ (copyright Memphis City Schools) which I hope will be of interest to some of you, particularly those of you who are coming to the concert on Sunday. (Incidentally, St Matthew’s choir also have a great link to an article on how to keep your conductor in line – JPJ will already be familiar with most of these!)

Kate

 


English Translation of Mozart’s Requiem


I. Introit: Requiem
Requiem aeternam dona eis, Domine,
et lux perpetua luceat eis.
Te decet hymnus, Deus, in Sion,
et tibi reddetur votum in Jerusalem.
Exaudi orationem meam,
ad te omnis care veniet.
Requiem aeternam dona eis, Domine,
et lux perpetua luceat eis.
Grant them eternal rest, Lord,
and let perpetual light shine on them.
You are praised, God, in Zion,
and homage will be paid to You in Jerusalem.
Hear my prayer,
to You all flesh will come.
Grant them eternal rest, Lord,
and let perpetual light shine on them.
II. Kyrie
Kyrie, eleison.
Christe, eleison.
Kyrie, eleison.
Lord, have mercy on us.
Christ, have mercy on us.
Lord, have mercy on us.
III. Sequence
1. Dies irae
Dies irae, dies illa
Solvet saeclum in favilla,
teste David cum Sibylla.
Quantus tremor est futurus,
quando judex est venturus,
cuncta stricte discussurus!
Day of wrath, day of anger
will dissolve the world in ashes,
as foretold by David and the Sibyl.
Great trembling there will be
when the Judge descends from heaven
to examine all things closely.
2. Tuba mirum
Tuba mirum spargens sonum
per sepulcra regionum,
coget omnes ante thronum.
The trumpet will send its wondrous sound
throughout earth’s sepulchres
and gather all before the throne.
Mors stupebit et natura,
cum resurget creatura,
judicanti responsura.
Liber scriptus proferetur,
in quo totum continetur,
unde mundus judicetur.
Death and nature will be astounded,
when all creation rises again,
to answer the judgement.
A book will be brought forth,
in which all will be written,
by which the world will be judged.
Judex ergo cum sedebit,
quidquid latet, apparebit,
nil inultum remanebit.
When the judge takes his place,
what is hidden will be revealed,
nothing will remain unavenged.
Quid sum miser tunc dicturus?
quem patronum rogaturus,
cum vix justus sit securus?
What shall a wretch like me say?
Who shall intercede for me,
when the just ones need mercy?
3. Rex tremendae
Rex tremendae majestatis,
qui salvandos savas gratis,
salve me, fons pietatis.
King of tremendous majesty,
who freely saves those worthy ones,
save me, source of mercy.
4. Recordare
Recordare, Jesu pie,
quod sum causa tuae viae;
ne me perdas illa die.
Quaerens me, sedisti lassus,
redemisti crucem passus;
tantus labor non sit cassus.
Juste judex ultionis,
donum fac remissionis
ante diem rationis.

Ingemisco, tamquam reus:
culpa rubet vultus meus;
supplicanti parce, Deus.

Qui Mariam absolvisti,
et latronem exaudisti,
mihi quoque spem dedisti.

Preces meae non sunt dignae,
sed tu, bonus, fac benigne,
ne perenni cremer igne.

Inter oves locum praesta,
Et ab haedis me sequestra,
Statuens in parte dextra.

Remember, kind Jesus,
my salvation caused your suffering;
do not forsake me on that day.
Faint and weary you have sought me,
redeemed me, suffering on the cross;
may such great effort not be in vain.
Righteous judge of vengeance,
grant me the gift of absolution
before the day of retribution.

I moan as one who is guilty:
owning my shame with a red face;
suppliant before you, Lord.

You, who absolved Mary,
and listened to the thief,
give me hope also.

My prayers are unworthy,
but, good Lord, have mercy,
and rescue me from eternal fire.

Provide me a place among the sheep,
and separate me from the goats,
guiding me to Your right hand.

5. Confutatis
Confutatis maledictis,
flammis acribus addictis,
voca me cum benedictus.
Oro supplex et acclinis,
cor contritum quasi cinis,
gere curam mei finis.
When the accused are confounded,
and doomed to flames of woe,
call me among the blessed.
I kneel with submissive heart,
my contrition is like ashes,
help me in my final condition.
6. Lacrimosa
Lacrimosa dies illa,
qua resurget ex favilla
judicandus homo reus.
Huic ergo parce, Deus,
pie Jesu Domine,
dona eis requiem. Amen.
That day of tears and mourning,
when from the ashes shall arise,
all humanity to be judged.
Spare us by your mercy, Lord,
gentle Lord Jesus,
grant them eternal rest. Amen.
IV. Offertory
I. Domine Jesu
Domine Jesu Christe, Rex gloriae,
libera animas omnium fidelium
defunctorum de poenis inferni
et de profundo lacu.
Libera eas de ore leonis,
ne absorbeat eas tartarus,
ne cadant in obscurum.
Sed signifer sanctus Michael
repraesentet eas in lucem sanctam.

Quam olim Abrahae promisisti
et semini ejus.
Lord Jesus Christ, King of glory,
liberate the souls of the faithful,
departed from the pains of hell
and from the bottomless pit.
Deliver them from the lion’s mouth,
lest hell swallow them up,
lest they fall into darkness.

Let the standard-bearer, holy Michael,
bring them into holy light.

Which was promised to Abraham
and his descendants.
2. Hostias
Hostias et preces tibi, Domine,
laudis offerimus.
Tu sucipe pro animabus illis,
quaram hodie memoriam facimus.
Fac eas, Domine,
de morte transire ad vitam,
Quam olim Abrahae promisisti
et semini ejus.
Sacrifices and prayers of praise, Lord,
we offer to You.
Receive them in behalf of those souls
we commemorate today.
And let them, Lord,
pass from death to life,
which was promised to Abraham
and his descendants.
V. Agnus Dei
Agnus Dei, qui tollis
peccata mundi,
dona eis requiem.
Agnus Dei, qui tollis
peccata mundi,
dona eis requiem.
Agnus Dei, qui tollis
peccata mundi,
dona eis requiem sempiternam.
Lamb of God, who takes away
the sins of the world,
grant them eternal rest.
Lamb of God, who takes away
the sins of the world,
Grant them eternal rest.
Lamb of God, who takes away
the sins of the world,
grant them eternal rest forever.
VI. Communion:
Lux aeterna
Lux aeterna luceat eis, Domine,
cum sanctis tuis in aeternum,
quia pius es.
Requiem aeternum dona eis, Domine,
et Lux perpetua luceat eis,
cum Sanctus tuis in aeternum,
quia pius es.
Let eternal light shine on them, Lord,
as with Your saints in eternity,
because You are merciful.
Grant them eternal rest, Lord,
and let perpetual light shine on them,
as with Your saints in eternity,
because You are merciful.

 

 


©2002 Memphis City Schools. All Rights Reserved.



©2002 Memphis City Schools. All Rights Reserved.

Spring Concert letter from HCS admin:

Spring will hopefully bring sunshine with the colourful flowers and new life of our gardens and countryside after the wet, miserable winter we have experienced.   Spring also brings a burst of musical colour and life in the Halifax Choral Society’s Spring Concert with the North of England Classical Orchestra, at the Victoria Theatre in Halifax on Sunday 17th April at 4.00 pm
 
The renowned Halifax Choral Society has been in existence for almost 200 years, and over that long period has performed the vast majority of the choral repertoire. Whilst its members are all amateur singers from many walks of life, the choir is very highly regarded for the quality of its singing. Having a choir of this calibre in Halifax means that there is absolutely no need to travel into either Leeds or Manchester to attend concerts of the highest quality! 
 
This concert offers a wonderful opportunity to hear the mysterious and evocative setting of the Requiem Mass by W A Mozart.  This piece formed the basis of the thrilling feature film Amadeus with the controversy still running on as to the identity of the sinister patron who commissioned Mozart to compose the piece. Little did Mozart realise that he was writing the music for his own Requiem, as he died suddenly with the music incomplete, to be finished by others.  However, the wonderful big tunes are all Mozart, and they turn this work into a masterpiece, definitely not to be missed! 
 
Along with the Halifax Choral Society we can offer you four excellent soloists: Elin Pritchard, soprano, Rebecca Afonwy-Jones, mezzo, Joshua Ellicott tenor, and Paul D. Grant baritone.
 
The other work being performed is by the French composer Charles Gounod. His setting of the Mass for St Cecilia’s day – Messe Solennelle de St Cécile is flawlessly sincere with a joyful grandeur that befits a mass written for the patron saint of music.   The music will undoubtedly dazzle and charm – much of it closely akin to operatic music for which Gounod also is justly famed.

The conductor for this impressive concert is the Choral Society’s renowned music director, John Pryce-Jones

 

Tickets for this special event range from £9 to £23 with discounts available, on sale from the Theatre Box Office on 01422 351158 or online at www.victoriatheatre.co.uk
 
We hope that you will be able to join us to hear this fantastic music.

What HCS means to me

Hi there

For my first ever blog (ever, anywhere!) I thought I would briefly recall how I came to be in HCS and what it means to me.

I moved to Halifax from South Shields  (a lovely coastal town on the North East coast) in 2o10 at the tender age of 22. I tried joining an amateur dramatics group to help me make friends and settle in, but I found it a tremendous commitment time and energy wise so I gave up after about a year. I felt a bit lost and was desperate to get back into singing regularly but wasn’t sure what to do.

One afternoon in September 2013 (by which time I was a ripe old 25) I spotted an HCS poster outside the Victoria Theatre and thought I’d give it a go. I Googled the society, sent an email and went along the following Monday. I came away from that first rehearsal feeling excited and exhilarated. I had bravely sat with the first sopranos (on the front row no less!) and I have proudly sat there for almost three years now (gasp, approaching 29!). My fellow sops were friendly, welcoming, interested, interesting, helpful, kind…I could go on. I had found what I was looking for!

Every rehearsal with HCS is like a singing lesson, we are always learning and developing. I have sung works I’d never heard before, and some I was familiar with from school days, but they have all taught me different things and helped me grow and learn about my voice.

I feel I misled you when I said I would be brief. The top and bottom is that HCS has helped me feel like Halifax is my home, that I have my own life here with a hobby that I love and treasure. I would urge anyone to try joining a choir, no matter what your age, background or musical knowledge  (or lack thereof in my case). To me HCS doesn’t just stand for Halifax Choral Society, it stands for Happiness Comes from Singing.

Lauren

Halifax Choral Society will be 200 years old in 2017, the oldest continuously- performing choral society in the world. We are quite proud of that! To celebrate our bicentenary we have commissioned a new piece by Philip Wilby about John the Baptist, called The Holy Face, which we will be recording and performing, along with a number of other projects. This blog has been create to explore what we are, where we come from and what we aim to be. Some history, some personal stories and news about what we are doing right now.

For starters, our upcoming concertimage