A Hallelujah Christmas

Concert at Portchester Methodist Church on Saturday, December 1

December arrived with its traditional sights and sounds at this thoroughly enjoyable and heart-warming annual event in aid of the Rowan’s Hospice, Purbrook.

A full house felt the chill of a Winter Wind sung to a challenging theme by Rachmaninov, heard the Watchmen’s Voices from a familiar cantata by J.S.Bach and enjoyed being stirred by Vivaldi’s popular Gloria.

Then, a complete change of mood as Solent Male Voice Choir gave way to youth and glamour in the person of Ciara O’Connor, a delightful soprano who has charmed opera audiences in America,Poland and Ireland.

She won hearts here,too with a spirited rendition of “I Could Have Danced All Night” which showcased perfectly the power and range of her voice.

Later in the evening the 32-year-old  had the audience entranced as, joined by a backing group from the choir, her voice soared thrillingly as she sang the emotive O Holy Night.

Other highlights were a festive version of Leonard Cohen’s popular Hallelujah, carols including the jazzy Holly Jolly Christmas and a superb example of festive story-telling by Marion Porter, wife of the Solent’s musical director Geoffrey Porter.

There’s another chance to enjoy this Christmas pot-pourri when it enjoys an encore at The Pallant Centre, Havant on Tuesday, December 18 at 7.30pm.

                                                                           Barry Tone 

In Concert - St Georges Church, Portsea - 9th June 2018

 

On a fine and sunny June 9th evening the Solent Male Voice Choir led by musical director Geoff Porter and accompanied by Nigel Smith at the piano gave us a concert of joyful music.

A modest audience at St George’s Church, Portsea were well entertained by male voice choir classics with a few less familiar items as well.

The choir opened with Why We Sing by Greg Gilpin.  A popular piece for all types of choirs and from the USA.  It makes an opening statement which came across well in the enthusiasm and harmonies of the choir.

Although the choir sang from music, which is unusual for a male voice choir, they sang with heads up and followed the MD well.  Only once or twice in the concert were some sections of the choir out of time with the MD or other sections.

Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah lacked conviction and it was here it seemed that some of the choir were unsure of the notation. On the other hand Up with the Jolly Roger Boys, which ended the first half, had great conviction, dynamics and good diction.  You were left thinking that pirates had come over from the Isle of Wight!

Augmenting the concert were two young singers, Lucie Jones (soprano) and Henry Darlison (counter-tenor).  They were exceptional in their singing.  Their programme was a varied mixture of baroque, classical and folk music.  They dueted Wild Mountain Thyme and sang with delicacy and balance.  Also Offenbach’s Bacarole which was a delight. Lucie sang if I were the Only girl in the World and the audience and the choir were invited to join in the final chorus. Henry’ solo piece was the Largo from Handel’s Xerxes, Ombra mai fu which showed off his counter-tenor range.

The final pieces by the choir were a jolly piratical song from Walt Disney’s 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea. Whale of a Tale and then American Trilogy which came over well but there was some inbalance in the sections.  More basses are needed.  However Morte Criste, with two retired choir member from the audience joining the choir, was sung with sensitivity.  Unfortunately St. George’s has no organ but Nigel Smith made a great job of accompanying on the piano.

If you were a fan of male voice choirs this concert would have left you feeling happy and content as it was a programme of male voice favourites sung by a strong choir who could, perhaps, do with a few more voices.

Barry Tone

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