1990s

In June 1992, a concert in York Minster, supported by the Rotary Club of York Vikings, included Mozart’s Vesperae Solemnes de Confessore with soloist Lynne Dawson. In the Yorkshire Post, Donald Webster wrote:

The Leeds Festival Chorus’s tone and balance were superb, producing a Handelian heroism for the Gloria and a suitable penitential expression for the Kyrie.

The free concert at Temple Newsam Park organized by Leeds City Council, Opera in the Park, was established in 1992, and the Chorus was there on the stage for the first time.

Dmitri Smirnov produced A Song of Liberty for a Chorus commission in 1993. The oratorio is based on poems by William Blake. It was the centenary year of Leeds as a city, and also the one hundred and thirty-fifth anniversary of the first formation of Leeds Festival Chorus, and A Song of Liberty was performed at a gala concert to celebrate these two events.

The following year, the November concert had Handel’s Israel in Egypt, an old stalwart, and Alexander Goehr’s The Death of Moses on the programme.

In November, 1995, the BBC recorded a concert which included the overture to Weber’s Der Freischütz, Parry’s Invocation to Music and Mendelssohn’s Die erste Walpurgisnacht.

The Chorus made a visit to Prague in late spring 1996, singing at St Nicholas’s church in the charming Old Town Square, then moving on to a concert in Plzen. It was the year of the inaugural concert at the Bridgewater Hall in Manchester, and Leeds joined with the Chester Chorus, the Huddersfield Choral Society and the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Chorus for Orff’s Carmina Burana. In the same busy year, concerts included works by Donizetti, Puccini, Purcell, Taverner, Maxwell Davies, Fauré, Verdi and Berlioz.

In June, 1997, the Chorus performed in Ripon Cathedral in a programme which included Thomas Tallis’s forty-part motet Spem in Alium to support the Cathedral’s redevelopment fund. Haydn’s Creation was the November concert in Leeds Town Hall.

Elgar’s Caractacus was given a much-needed revival in 1998, then on 21 August gentlemen of the Chorus travelled down to London for a Prom concert. This was Dmitri Shostakovich’s Symphony No 13, known as the ‘Babi Yar’ symphony. It was sung in Russian. Thanks to expert tuition, pronunciation was so good that some audience members thought that the Chorus was a Russian choir. The symphony sets poems by Yevgeny Yevtushenko, the first of which – about a World War II atrocity in the Ukraine – gives the work its title.

Belshazzar’s Feast was performed in November 1998.

In July, 1999 York Minster resounded to Berlioz’s Grande Messe des Morts and Rossini’s Petite Messe Solonnelle was performed in December.

Back to Timeline