Royal Northern College Of Music Chamber Choir

Tuesday 10 December 2013

The RNCM is renowned as one of the most inspiring conservatoires in the world for vocal studies. Singers are offered unparalleled performance opportunities, including lieder and oratorio performances, choral work, chamber music, and fully-staged public opera productions which regularly receive external acclaim.

Under their chorus Master David Jones their programme will include music by Poulenc and Warlock as well as Medieval Carols and Tudor Christmas Music.

Students appear by kind permission of the RNCM.


Skipton Town Hall is not the sort of building where one can easily sing plainsong.

Plainsong demands the acoustics of a sacred building and with the best will in the world, The Town Hall can never fall into that category.

The Choir began their concert from the back of the hall, with the male voices chanting plainsong from the foyer. The first item, a plainchant from the Thirteenth Century seemed interminable and sadly it was also hesitant and out of tune.

The gentlemen then processed to the front of the hall where they were joined by Eleanor Sanderson-Nash, soprano. The intonation remained questionable and a Fifteenth Century "Ave Maria", suffered from a lack of confidence. The bare harmonic structure of this music demands precise singing. A resonant acoustic helps, but poor pitching cannot be disguised.

We moved from Plainsong to motets by Weelkes and Byrd where the small group were augmented by the other members of the choir.

Sadly the sopranos dominated the whole ensemble, robbing both composers' of the effective melodic weaving between the voices and the motets sounded like a soprano solo line with a somewhat imperfect muzzy noise beneath. It was difficult to work out whether the sung language was English or Latin.

In the second part of the programme the choir seemed more confident.

Poulenc's exquisite miniatures, "Un soir de Neige" were better. The French was very fair, but the word, 'dynamics' hadn't seemed to enter into the interpretation.

The Four Carols by Peter Warlock were pleasant, but there was little feeling that the choir was communicating with their audience.

The final, "Four Christmas motets" by Poulenc came off best although there were untidy phrase endings and few dynamics or tone colours.

This Chamber choir is in need of more rigorous rehearsal before they present themselves on the professional concert platform.

Adrienne Fox