THROUGH THE ARCHIVES: Ulster Hall is the setting for enjoyable concert by the Ulster Male Voice Choir

From the News Letter, March 1, 1924

Monday, 1st March 2021, 6:00 am
Derek Ryan on stage at his Ulster Hall concert, Belfast, in February 2020. Picture: Cliff Donaldson
Derek Ryan on stage at his Ulster Hall concert, Belfast, in February 2020. Picture: Cliff Donaldson

On this day in 1924 the News Letter reported that annual concert of the Ulster Male Voice Choir had been held in the Ulster Hall in Belfast “in the presence of a large and enthusiastic audience”.

The reporter who attended the concert wrote in the paper: “An excellent programme was provided, and it was singularly refreshing to find amongst the concerted numbers a sixteenth century madrigal – form of composition laden with flying fugal imitations and most difficult in correct interpretation. This fine choir has been in existence for nearly a quarter of a century, and has won many notable distinctions, especially in recent years. The gifted conductor is Mr John Vine, FRCO, [is] an authority on old English musical lore and an able exponent of Bach compositions.”

The choir gave “a number of well-contrasted items”, reported the paper’s correspondent.

Most inspiring, commented the reporter, was an American Battle Hymn by Martin Shaw which was “expressively rendered, the majestic minor strains, in unison, with its martial pianoforte accompaniment”.

Of the soloist Mr David McAlpin it was noted that he had sung with “freshness and vigour” and had been applauded “tumultuously” by those attending the concert in the Ulster Hall.

It was also noted that the ever popular tenor Mr John Clarke had sung with “splendour of tone and artistic perception Handel’s My Arms; Against This Gorgias Will I Go and the air Sound An Alarm.

Violin solos were performed during the concert by Mr Joseph H Gurd “a very promising young artiste” who had been a Feis Ceoil medallist.

The reporter commented of Gurd: “He has a rich, full tone and splendid technique, his double-stopping being very harmonious.”

The first item that he played had been the Adagio and Rondo from De Beriot’s Ninth Concerto, which was “delightfully interpreted” and he had been worthy of the enthusiastic recall that he received.

As an encore he played a minuet by Beethoven.