Sunday, 13 April 2014

South Cumbia breeds wonderful choral singers - what is in the water ?!?!

What a fantastic choral evening I had at South Cumbria. I would normally have written this earlier, but a long trip home and an evolving bad throat and swollen glands left me without the ability to string two sentences together in a meaningful way !

The choral classes were small but of the highest quality. How interesting that two ladies choirs and two Male voice choirs could produce such widely divergent tone quality of pretty much equal quality. The male choirs came first and each gave a tremendous mini recital of four pieces of all different genres of music. The K Shoes choir had a beautiful mellifluous quality and their soft and legato singing especially in Morte Christe was like honey. They finished with the super American Trilogy, with wonderfully patriotic song from the US and again the mood change was so heartfelt and skilfully done. I honestly wondered how it could be bettered.

Up went the Barrow Male Voice Choir and opened their collective mouths and sang with a totally different punchy energy and vibrancy I was quite blown away. They then sang one of my all time favourite choral songs, The Blue Bird by Stanford, which I had sung many many times in the Middleton Singers as a youngster, but had never heard in the TTBB version. It was quite remarkable, with tenors soaring up to top C's...........and it gave me goosebumps ! The rest of their programme breezed after the blue bird mountain was climbed and I was left with a huge decision.

On this day, at this time, is all one can use as the gauge for placings, and Barrow had won me over, the marks were very ( and deservedly) high and one mark split them. The good news is I wasn't lynched on my way home, so not too many disgruntled KShoes chaps !

It was then the turn of the ladies, which I knew would be excellent after hearing the quality of the men! A small and intimate group called Ottovoce sang some very tricky three and four part music including a fantastic piece called Two for the Price of One which was not only vocally brilliant, it was amusing and witty. Their ensemble was very tight and they were very accomplished individually as well as a group. I would have loved to have heard them sing a madrigal !

Next up was The Ghyll Singers, a fine and traditional SSA ladies choir who sang repertoire reminiscent of my youthful choral singing and sang with passion as well as lovely pp singing. They sang the gorgeous Song of the Shadows with such delicacy and feel for the sweeping melody, and I was transported back 30 years.

Clearly there is a terrific tradition of choral singing in South Cumbria, as all of these adult choirs, and the large number of junior choirs were from relatively local to Ulverston, which was a joy. It restores my faith on the true art of unmiked, warm and rosy tone which is directly due to using ones voice and body well, and thus giving the singer such a high, and feel good moment.

Choral singing simply makes us happy ! I have no idea if that is primarily physical or emotional, or a mix of both, but we stop doing it at our peril.

Barrow Male Voice Choir
The Ghyll Singers

K Shoes Male Voice Choir


Thank you South Cumbria, you were fantastic !


(I couldn't find a picture of Ottovoce - apologies)


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