Who would have thought that, when eight men of Pendle founded a choir 125 years ago, it would still be going strong and giving pleasure to friends and supporters with a concert of the highest quality?
For its anniversary concert at St Thomas’s Church, Barrowford, Nelson Arion’s guests were a quartet of singers from Co-op Opera, an organisation whose purpose is to give young professional opera singers, in the early stages of their career, the opportunity to perform, something which is rare in a crowded and competitive profession.
Catriona Bell (soprano), Sophie Yelland (mezzo), Tom Lowe (tenor) and David Milner-Pearce (baritone) were all directed from the piano and accompanied by Stephen Wilder.
The music they sang ranged from Valentin’s aria from Gounod’s “Faust”, sung by David Milner-Pearce, “Softly Awakes My Heart” from Sophie Yelland, the trio from Cosi Fan Tutti and the Seduction Duet from Don Giovanni.
The choir opened the concert with “With a Voice of Singing” by Martin Shaw and, among others, joined in the operatic flavour of the evening with “O Isis and Osiris”, the “Anvil Chorus” and the ever popular chorus of “Speed Your Journey” before joining David Milner-Pearce in a rousing rendition of “Toreador”.
In the second half both guests and choir let their hair down and explored the lighter end of the operatic spectrum.
The choir opened with three Gilbert and Sullivan items, including a joint item with Sophie Yelland “When a Merry Maiden Marries”. What followed from the guest artists was a splendid selection of crowd pleasers.
The grand finale involved Catriona Bell, Tom Lowe, Stephen Wilder and the choir performing the Brindisi from “La Traviata” by Verdi.