WW1 Memorial – November 2014

WW1 Horror Friday 7th November Remembrance
7:30 pm
Royal Northern College of Music

This concert was the Society’s recognition of the centenary of the outbreak of the First World War – a conflict unprecedented in its scale and horror, embarked on for no good reason, which ultimately did nothing but sow the seeds of a greater catastrophe a generation later.  The Society was of course in existence long before the conflict, but it suspended its activities for the duration – the only “downtime” in the last 130 years.

The concert contained a lot of new music for the choir and we had to work hard to prepare, but in the end it was well worth it, and the concert was very well received.  It was only the second performance in the newly refurbished RNCM concert hall but the new facilities worked very well.

The main works performed were:

Eternal Light Howard Goodall
Mass in Time of War Joseph Haydn

There was also a short act of remembrance with music and poetry by Butterworth, Gurney, Wilfred Owen, Rubert Brooke and Kipling.

To view the concert programme, click here.

Dr Joe Dawson kindly provided the following review, a modified version of which was published in the Oldham Chronicle.

Eternal Light, Oldham Choral Society, RNCM Concert Hall, 7 November 2014 – A compelling commemoration of WWIOldham Choral Society under their conductor Nigel P. Wilkinson with professional soloists and orchestra gave a moving performance of Eternal Light by composer, choral guru and educator Howard Goodall. This accessible and eclectic work made a moving contribution to the main aspect of this commemoration: the outbreak of WWI. The society can add this to their impressive requiem repertoire.

Soloists Stephanie Stanway (soprano), Hollie-anne Bangham (mezzo soprano), Simon Crosby Buttle (tenor) and Dean Robinson (bass-baritone) all added professional poise and keen interpretations throughout the evening, and the East Lancs Sinfonia provided effective orchestral backings.

The first half ended with a poignant act of remembrance entitled ‘We will remember them’. Consisting of excellent readings by students from Oldham’s Blue Coat School, songs from the soloists, and the bugle playing of the Last Post and Reveille separated by silence, all conspired to create a memorable atmosphere befitting the occasion.

The 2nd half comprised Haydn’s Mass In Time of War (Missa in pempore belli). Although sometimes called the ‘Kettledrum Mass’ because of the use of the instrument in the unsettled nature of some passages, it is not a descriptive work. Haydn’s classical setting does not dwell on things temporal but transcends them with a triumphal C major finale of ‘dona nobis pacem’, which the chorus of over 130 voices thoroughly relished.

The evening also commemorated the newly-reopened and augmented concert hall of the Royal Northern College of Music, one of Europe’s prime conservatoires and alma mater of the conductor, soloists and many other musicians. Only about 10 miles from the centre of Oldham, this will make a splendid venue for their thriving choral society hopefully for many years to come.

Dr Joe Dawson

Taking the bow (Photo: John Hesten)

Stephanie Stanway Soprano
Hollie-anne Bangham Mezzo
Simon Crosby Buttle Tenor
Dean Robinson Bass
Orchestra East Lancs Sinfonia
Conductor Nigel Wilkinson

Tickets at £14 (schoolchildren £1) were available from:

– Our ticket secretary on 01457 875 221

– The RNCM Box Office 0161 907 5555