Reviews 2014/15 Season
Born in the USA, 4 July 2015
The Fourth of July was really celebrated by the MH Choral Society at their concert in the very appropriately decorated Methodist Church. The choir sang only musical pieces “Born in the USA”, but they ranged from the traditional and jolly “Buffalo Gals” and the flowing “Shenandoah”, to the poignant “Over the Rainbow”. They included several Afro-American spirituals, numbers from Broadway musicals, like “West Side Story”, and songs by both serious and popular musicians.
The choir made good use of small groups (available for hire for your functions, please note) and soloists. Pauline Rainey’s “Summertime” was memorable, (what a lovely soaring voice!). Veronica Edwards simply became Sondheim’s “Broadway Baby” and Phil Spittle emulated Paul Robeson with his “Deep River” (and even deeper voice). John Garratt played his ukulele and sang “Lullaby of Broadway” and the audience joined in.
It was that sort of fun evening! The concert began with a jazzy Scott Joplin piano duet by Chris Hodgson and Celia Lever Jones. It ended with the packed audience singing along. Even the interval snacks had an American theme. Thank you to Market Harborough Choral Society, your MD Anselm Kersten and assistant Richard Blewitt. It was a lovely, relaxing way to spend a warm July evening."
by Vivien Window
Christmas Concert, 20 December 2014
Market Harborough Choral Society’s annual Celebration of Christmas was held at Market Harborough Congregational Church’s Jubilee Hall.
The society’s Christmas concert was an informal evening of more than 20 well-known and loved carols and songs, sung with verve and enjoyment by this happy group who just love to sing.
Anselm Kersten, their musical director, encouraged the audience to join in at least a quarter of the songs and more if we wanted to. Perhaps he’s looking for more choir members?
Their songs covered the centuries beginning with the 14th century Gaudete - with Pauline Rainey as soloist. This was a top 50 hit in the 1970s sung entirely in Latin. They then jumped 500 years to the Wham! single Last Christmas sung by the women.
I particularly loved Christmas Bells, which sounded like chimes and O Holy Night with the sweet voice of June Giannoulsi signing this solo. The famous Silent Night, for ever associated with the First World War, was sung with guitar accompaniment. This, so legend has it, was how it was first sung.
A Sheffield carol group, from within the choir, sang Shepherds Arise and Shepherds Rejoice, their unaccompanied voices weaving together beautifully. And continuing the shepherds theme, we all enjoyed joining in with While Shepherds Watched, sung to a very unusual choice of tune – On Ilkla Moor Baht 'at. And there was no song sheet necessary for Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer.
John Lennon’s War is Over made us think “if only” and we went out singing Merry Xmas Everybody (Slade) which closed the concert.
Happy new year choral society! Your concerts are an asset to the town.
by Vivien Window
“The Armed Man” - A Mass for Peace & "Your Country Needs You"
with The Harborough Band, 22 November 2014
A superb performance from two of the town's most established musical groups, Market Harborough Choral Society with the Harborough Band performed The Armed Man (A Mass for Peace) by Karl Jenkins, and Your Country Needs You by Richard Blewitt.
This special concert of remembrance for the outbreak of The Great War was stunning, dramatic and very moving. It may be unusual to have a choir accompanied by a brass band, rather than an orchestra, but this band is exceptional, playing as well in quiet moments as in the traditional oom-pahpah ones.
The concert began with two band pieces, Northern Festival and Hymn for the Fallen, and they played with the singers in Richard Blewitt’s Your Country Needs You.
Richard is the society’s assistant musical director and wrote the choral arrangements for First World War poems, which the singers interpreted beautifully and with great feeling. The poems were interspersed with well-known old war songs and the packed audience joined in.
Jenkins’ The Armed Man is well known and deservedly well-loved. This special arrangement for brass and organ told the story of war. Some of the movements, Kipling’s Hymn Before Action and Dryden’s Charge, are loud and as clashing as battle is. Then there was a sudden dramatic silence and a long chilling pause, and The Last Post. Poem The Angry Flames, by a Hiroshima survivor, will long remain in the memory. The whole mass finished with a Benedictus and Better is Peace – an uplifting note after the sadness.
It was a superb performance, by two of Harborough’s most established music groupds. I do hope they collaborate again.
by Vivien Window