It was a beginning in every sense of the word and fittingly Halifax Choral Society turns to Haydn’s oratorio The Creation - the first piece it ever performed - for the next strand of its bicentennial season on Sunday.
The choir will be accompanied by one of Britain’s foremost period orchestras, The Hanover Band – and the two are aiming at as an authentic a performance style as can be achieved.
Paul Cairns from the society explains that there is a big difference between an orchestra with modern instruments and one of 1818 – “the sound is less strident and the style of playing owes more to the Baroque performance tradition than to the 19th or 20th centuries”.
Hanover Band was founded in 1980 by Caroline Brown specifically to get back to older styles of performance which had got swamped by the big sounds of the 19th century concert hall and newer versions of orchestral instruments.
In their early years the Band made their name with ground-breaking recordings of the complete Beethoven symphonies – all in authentic style.
And accordingly the choir has been working hard on the singing style of 1818 too.
Conductor John Pryce-Jones has long championed ‘getting the style right’ for every piece of music the choir performs – most notably in the annual performance of Handel’s Messiah, music which goes back another 50 years or more before Joseph Haydn’s time.
A link between Halifax and Haydn’s Creation found by historian Richard Holmes adds to the flavour of the event. Holmes’ account of the early scientific era in the 18th century, ‘The Age of Wonder’, provides a fascinating insight into the music.
A good deal of the book concerns William Herschel who for a time was organist at Halifax Parish Church.
Later, Herschel became internationally renowned for his high quality telescopes. Visits to his observatory were regarded as uplifting, even religious experiences. Joseph Haydn claimed that his visit to Herschel at Slough in 1792 had helped him compose his oratorio The Creation.”
So the man who once had been organist in Halifax was later able to ‘show off’ extraordinary views of the night sky and inspire Haydn to write his great work!
Tickets: 01422 351158
Hayden’s Creation will be performed at the Victoria Theatre on Sunday at 6.30pm.