This is the Victoria Quarter in Leeds, a marbled Victorian arcade housing some seriously high-end retail outlets, water features and the popular Harvey Nichols Espresso Bar. The arcade sits beneath a magnificent, modern vaulted stained-glass roof, the largest stained-glass window in Europe. Its bright, reflective surfaces, lofty expansiveness and transparent, crystalline resonance make it reminiscent of a cathedral.
As singers, we have become well acquainted with the VQ’s fantastic acoustic, and its potential, performing Christmas music to Harvey Nichols customers in the evening when the city outside is subdued and the interior takes on an almost spiritual calm. We also know first-hand the power of modern Cathedral music sung within this space to move, enthuse and enrapture listener and performer alike.
There has been a widespread, creative re-birth in sacred choral music over the last 50 years. Composers have found a voice that re-discovers the spiritual simplicity of expression of their Renaissance counterparts, using voices to evoke numinous feelings – mystery, awe and timelessness. Such music arrests us and raises the imagination above the hubbub of daily living, speaking to those parts of us that words alone cannot reach. Yet, it can often seem that a large number of people miss out on these profound, personal experiences as the music rarely leaves our greater Churches and expensive stage venues.
So this summer, directed by Dr Simon Lindley, we will bring the glorious and thrilling sounds of modern cathedral music – some of it written locally in Yorkshire – to this awe-inspiring place in the heart of Leeds. Our programme will include pieces by the likes of Tavener, Whitacre, Lauridsen, Beamish and MacMillan alongside Harris, Parry and three modern Yorkshire greats Edward Bairstow, Francis Jackson and Philip Moore. We will perform the music live, and record it for CD and download so that we can share the experience more widely, but we can’t do it without your help.
We are a close-knit group of approximately 40, with a mixture of skilled amateur and semi-professional singers with a wide age-range spanning undergrad students and young professionals to mature experienced performers. Please be aware we've compiled all of this material together from various devices including our phone cameras, and to give you the best idea of the concept we've made some early rehearsal videos that don't give a true impression of how we sound in performance!
We are very lucky in that we have been able to secure some of our costs via generous private donors and benefits in kind from local businesses in the region. This has given us a great platform on which to build our project, and it means we have access to the venue for recording and performance, seating, publicity and all of our printing costs.