A Concert for Linda and Keith Hartley, Cantores Olicanae with Skipton Camerata at St Margaret’s, Ilkley, Saturday 2nd November 2019

IT is comforting to believe that the vital spirits of Linda and Keith Hartley were hovering around the packed audience for this very special concert.

The event was sponsored by the Hartley family and dedicated to the memory of their parents. Both were passionate, generous and highly visible supporters of the arts in Ilkley.

Keith, easily recognised by his trademark colourful dickie bow, served as president of the Ilkley Arts Federation. Linda was a singing member of Cantores Olicanae for some years.

Cantores were joined by five promising young soloists and Skipton Camerata, conducted by Rory Wainwright Johnston. Linda and Keith would have surely relished the world premiere of the evening’s opening work. A Glimpse of the Light was composed by Rory especially for the occasion. His inspiration is a line from a Robert Frost poem: “Heaven gives its glimpses only to those not in a position to look too close”.

Rory skilfully interweaves poems exploring the universe with the Lux aeterna from the Latin Mass for the Dead: “They are all gone into the world of Light”.

Choral and orchestral textures were beautifully delineated in this premiere performance, conducted by its youthful composer. Charlotte Trepess sustained the soaring soprano line in an attractive setting of Christina Georgina Rossetti’s poem, Paradise: In a Dream.

And so to Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. Prize winning violinist Sophie Rosa was the dexterous soloist in the delightful Violin Concerto No 5 in A major. It has been described as “an opera in concerto guise”. The strings, woodwind and brass of Skipton Camerata produced a sumptuous sonic backdrop amidst the mellowed stone and woodwork of the softly lit Victorian church.

Mozart’s Requiem Mass in D minor, K626, unfinished at the time of his death on 4th December 1791, was completed by Franz Xaver Sussmayr. The work’s profound spirituality invariably leaves an indelible impression. Perhaps even more so last Saturday evening, since this was one of Linda Hartley’s favourite musical works.

Soprano Charlotte Trepess, mezzo Lorna Day, tenor Zahid Siddiqui and baritone Emyr Lloyd Jones sang with conviction and beauty of tone. This fine vocal quartet was matched in the operatic sounding Recordare section by the buoyancy of the Camerata’s playing. The power and clarity of the choral line was striking in the fearsome Dies Irae. Rich orchestral sonorities combined with the swelling choral line in the final fugal Requiem aeternam to create a stupendous climax under the baton of Rory Wainwright Johnston. A fitting end to a truly memorable evening.

Geoffrey Mogridge