It’s been a long time since we sat in the audience and really appreciated the quality of the voices in SEMVC. We usually drag our children, Natasha and Ben along to brass music concerts, so tonight was about expanding their musical appreciation, to include the world of the male voice choir. It was also a treat for them to see their Grandad, Tony Farr, singing alongside other members of the Kedington mafia! Loaded with sweets and snacks, we squeezed in amongst a near capacity audience at St Peter’s church, Sudbury in anticipation.
Leigh’s first half programme began with the very impressively sung Welsh hymn ‘Gwahoddiad’, and lead onto ‘You raise me up’ where they were joined by Vanessa Cozens. It was a shame that we didn’t hear more of Vanessa. Unfortunately, she became a little swamped by the powerful male voices in the last verse. Leigh then went on to entertaining us with a medley from South Pacific. We particularly enjoyed the costume additions to ‘There is nothing like a dame’. Natasha thought Elvis was very cool!
SEMVC then took the stage. Now usually, your Chairman (being vertically challenged – genes he passed to his son…) is hidden from view, and is rarely seen. But not tonight! The grandchildren had direct line of sight, and we were absorbed by the quality and control of the singing. The much-anticipated Cantique de Jean Racine resonated in the fine acoustics, but didn’t quite reach the level of performance we were hoping for (this is a particular favourite of ours and so I guess we critiqued this a little more than the others). Tempo and tuning issues just took the shine off what otherwise was a great performance. However, this was more than made up for with the rest of the first half which concluded with a toe-tapping, finger-clicking performance of Amen, this one definitely got the audience jigging in their seats!
A really impressive performance from joint choirs of Rhythm of Life concluded the first half, how did you all manage to get your teeth around those words so precisely? A bunch of grown men looking very smart and serious, singing ‘Doo Bee Doos’ was a real treat. We partook in the lovely spread of refreshments that were offered to us at the interval – we particularly liked the Cathedral City cheese bites – Thank you J.
A beautiful rendition of Bridge over troubled water opened the second half. SEMVC controlled the dynamics throughout and showed total concentration from the whole choir. Wait, was that a guitar we heard? We’d forgotten that Simon ‘the Schirminator’ was accompanying tonight, and that is not meant as a negative comment. His subtle accompanying skills, along with those of Calvin on the keys, provided the perfect foundation from which the choir could express themselves. And express they did with a couple of Burt Bacharach pieces – which had just the right amount of cheese, and would have made Cilla proud. Their programme finished with Kings of Swing, a nice medley for the audience to hum and sway along to.
Leigh’s second half programme opened with some very Magnificent men entertaining us in their flying machines (and one with a pair of goggles). They concluded their programme with a selection of songs from the sixties, taking Billie back to being a young lass, listening to her mum singing her heart out to these songs whilst dusting and hoovering!
All too soon the finale was upon us. Some poignant words by Mark Jefferson reminded us all why we were there, and the concert concluded with An American Trilogy, a very moving tribute to those who have lost their lives in battle.
Congratulations to both choirs, their conductors and accompanists for a very entertaining yet moving concert. Both of our children were enthralled throughout, enjoying the livelier numbers, and appreciating the quieter ones. In fact, Ben found parts of the concert so relaxing he fell asleep towards the end!We promise not to leave it so long next time …
Paul, Billie, Natasha & Ben Farr, November 2017.
SEMVC in concert with Leigh Orpheus Male Voice Choir, Saturday 18 November 2017