Verdi Requiem – Oct 2013

VerdiVerdi Sunday October 27th 2013 7:00 pm Dies IraeDies Irae
Royal Northern College of Music
Verdi’s Requiem
This wonderful work was the culmination of many years thought and preparation.  It was finally composed as a tribute to the writer and humanist Alessandro Manzoni and was first performed on May 22nd 1874 on the anniversary of his death.  Years before, however, Verdi had organised a collaboration of italian composers to write a requiem for Rossini, and the original version of the concluding Libera Mewas composed at that time.  This collaborative work was sady never performed until fairly recently.The most well-known passage from the Requiem is the explosive introduction to the Dies Irae which twice recurs wholly or in part later on.  But the Dies Irae is much more than this, consisting of nine separate and contrasting sections making up nearly half of the score.  The whole work is very much in the Verdi operatic tradition – dramatic, emotional and reflective with great tunes and exquisite orchestration.This was the choir’s last performance in the RNCM before the concert hall closed for a year for refurbishment.  As usual we were joined by a first-class team of professional soloists, all of whom have performed opera and oratorio both in the UK and abroad.
Stuart Ferguson kindly provided the following review, which was published in the Oldham Chronicle on 1st November 2013.
OLDHAM Choral Society’s performance of the Verdi Requiem at the Royal Northern College of Music on Sunday was a magnificent and majestic achievement.To celebrate the bicentenary of Verdi’s birth the Oldham Choral Society and East Lancs Sinfonia teamed up with invited international soloists to present Verdi’s magnificent fusion of words and music.

Under the baton of Nigel P. Wilkinson, a wall of sound hit the audience — the vibrations of the horizontal bass drum reverberating in the concert hall even as the audience left.

The effect was as powerful as a blockbuster Western movie theme or a James Bond soundtrack. From the hushed beginning to the exploding Dies Irae, for which the trumpeters had full reign up in the gods, the notes and words seared themselves into the heart. My own Judgement Day will hold no fears if I’m greeted with this masterpiece.

This was a major, soul-lifting experience and celebrated the joyous hope of a triumphal life after death in a powerful way. Verdi would have been delighted.

The soloists – Linda Richardson (soprano), Kathleen Wilkinson (mezzo soprano), Justin Lavender (tenor) and David Soar (bass) – sang together wonderfully, as if they had been touring together for years instead of being brought together for the night.

The performance had what any great performance of this work demands: passion. Everyone, choristers, soloists, musicians and conductor, pulled out all the stops.

It’s hard to imagine the 132-strong Oldham Choral and the 39-strong Sinfonia could do better – but I know they will try.


Linda Richardson Kathleen Wilkinson
Linda Richardson – Soprano Kathleen Wilkinson – Mezzo
Justin Lavender David Soar
Justin Lavender – Tenor David Soar – Bass-Baritone
Orchestra East Lancs Sinfonia
Conductor Nigel P Wilkinson

Tickets (Adults £14, RNCM students £5, under 18s (accompanied) £1) were available from:

– Our ticket secretary on 01457 832 012

– The RNCM box office on 0161 907 5555

– Online via the RNCM web site (explore to find the concert then book online)