Chamber Choir

Heritage Weekend at Shibden Hall.
Heritage Weekend at Shibden Hall.

Halifax Chamber Choir presents ‘Sounds and Sweet Airs - the Music of Shakespeare’ in the aisled barn at Shibden Hall, Lister Road, Halifax HX3 6XG on Saturday April 12th at 2.00pm. As well as musical settings of Shakespeare’s texts by Ralph Vaughan Williams and John Rutter, the choir will perform music from Shakespeare’s era, with which the great playwright will have been familiar. This will include madrigals by Thomas Weelkes, John Wilbye, Thomas Campion and John Bennet. In reference to Shakespeare’s possible Catholic sympathies, movements from the famous Mass for 4 Voices by his contemporary, William Byrd, will be heard.

The centrepiece of the programme will be a world premier of a new piece by Leeds-based composer James Reynolds, Three Songs for the Bard. This work, an imaginative and sumptuous setting of three songs from Shakespeare’s play As You Like It, will be a great treat for lovers of Shakespeare and choral music alike. Written for a performance of Shakespeare’s play reimagined as a World War I drama, the music also has great relevance to the First World War Centenary this year.

James says of the piece, “The idea for the piece came from a production of As You Like It that I worked on with BurntOut Theatre Company. I wrote the three songs to be sung by just one singer, accompanied on the guitar. But when the production was finished, I decided that I wanted to extend all the material out into a full choir piece. The connection with the First World War inspired a lot of the aspects of the music. The second movement, ‘Blow, thou winter wind’ uses slurs to sound like diving planes, and the final movement, ‘Heigh ho, unto the holly’ is a hymn for all who faced death in World War I.”

James Reynolds trained at the London College of Contemporary Music and the University of Leeds. His compositions have been widely used in TV adverts and dramas including Poirot, Lewis (ITV1), Chicago Fire (Sky Drama) and Channel 4’s coverage of the Paralympic Games.

This concert will be directed by the choir’s new musical director, Alex Kyle. Alex is choral director for the Diocese of Leeds, in addition to his work as musical director of Halifax Chamber Choir and Vocalis Chamber Choir, and director of music at St Robert’s Church, Harrogate.

Alex said, “I am greatly looking forward to conducting this programme, which includes a bit of something for everyone: a brand new piece by James Reynolds, some fantastic early music from William Byrd and Thomas Weelkes, and even a bit of close-harmony jazz courtesy of John Rutter!”

Shibden Hall, set in 37 hectares of the Shibden valley, Halifax, is a six hundred year old medieval timber-framed manor house. This Grade II* Listed 15th century house is one of England’s oldest and was built in 1420, five years after the Battle of Agincourt. (See image attached)

Admission is £5.00 (concessions £4.00) including refreshments. Tickets are available in advance at or by telephone 01422-352246.