Belated greetings for 2022 to everyone!
I wish you all good health, happiness and joyous music in the year ahead.
I grew up in the pre-digital era, when television was broadcast in black and white using 405 then 625 lines rather than the colour pixels we are familiar with today. TV signals were far less reliable and it was not unusual to have programmes interrupted by the test card followed by an information sign saying that ‘Normal service will be resumed as soon as possible’. (At this point I apologise for temporarily dividing the readership into those who recall these things and those who do not.) When the programmes did eventually resume, I can remember feeling a mixed sense of relief and pleasure that everything was falling back into its rightful place once more. The resumption of the Choral Society’s full Christmas programme at the close of 2021 revived those childhood feelings. The Society, singing with Black Dyke Band at the Christmas Concert and then with Royal Northern Sinfonia for two Huddersfield Messiahs plus a Messiah at the Sage, Gateshead, gave a sense of order returning to our musical world.
The New Year has seen a more usual rehearsal schedule restored for singing members, with preparations mapped out for our spring concert of Bach St John Passionon Saturday, 2nd April Who could have thought that restarting a normal, weekly rehearsal schedule might bring a frisson of anticipation and excitement with it? The simple pleasure of enjoying regular, weekly singing sessions again, and with reduced anxiety levels too, is wonderful. Our Choral Director, Greg Batsleer, tells us that the Huddersfield Choral Society is in very good voice; we are welcoming new recruits to the Society regularly too. All of this bodes well for the future of the Society.
Signs of growth and renewal are all around us. Outdoors we are moving towards the spring season. Catkins are forming on certain trees and there are early signs of green shoots other plants too. The green shoots of renewal are also present in many less-apparent places; the Society once again feels able to look further ahead than one season and plans are currently being shaped for next season and beyond, offering plenty for both singers and supporters to enjoy. Every cloud has a silver lining, it is said, our particular ‘silver lining’ being the national and international audiences we attracted to our on-line activities during the pandemic. We want to keep in touch with our new, on-line friends and followers, so some more Zoom workshops are part of our plans too.
The area in which we feel less sure of growth lies around our concert audiences. It was entirely understandable that there was a reluctance amongst audiences to attend our Christmas season concerts, given government advice at the time, but it was a sad sight to see so many empty seats for the Christmas concert and Messiah, nevertheless. We know that a lack of parking near Huddersfield Town Hall on concert nights did not help this situation. Officers from the Society continue to talk to Kirklees about parking in a bid to try to find a suitable temporary solution to this issue. Nationally, audience confidence in attending theatres and concert halls suffered a severe blow during the pandemic. Numbers are beginning to recover, but it is still difficult to be sure when audiences will feel confident enough to return in the numbers we were used to seeing previously. Singing to a half-empty hall is not a good feeling for the choir and does not offer a particularly satisfying concert experience for attending audience members either. In a spirit of optimism, however, we hope to welcome a larger audience to our spring concert and we hope that our supporters will do all they can to encourage more audience members to join us in the town hall on Saturday, 2nd April.
I am really looking forward to the concert and very much hope you will be joining me for what promises to be an evening of wonderful music.
With all good wishes for the months ahead,
Huddersfield Choral Society