I had a great weekend at Bournemouth Festival ! I have been many times before to this warm and friendly festival both as adjudicator, trainee adjudicator and teacher taking pupils. So you see my bond with Bournemouth goes back over 30 years.
This year I was judging the choir section, so two days of high standard choral singing with choirs of all ages and stages !
On the school choirs and youth choirs day there was a plethora of talent from a small and exquisite group from Highcliffe School who sang like one voice with miraculous tone quality and made Britten's The Birds sound as if we were hearing a recital at the Wigmore Hall. Another group, Park School brought the ENTIRE school, all 240 of them ! The conductor was able to control all these children from 5 years old to 13 years old with a small flicker of her hand, and the sound moved from a beautiful pp to a vibrant ff in the space of one bar. We had a super choir from St Katherine's Primary school and another Glenmoor and Winton both of whom gained the magic marks of 88/89 and 90 ! Another school Bransgore performed songs with choir and Ukelele band in a disciplined and altogether entertaining way. Another two choirs St James Primary School and The Bearwood School joined and sang so beautifully in the Unison Singing Class. I am so thrilled that the festival still holds this class. To sing in unison really well is a feat of real vocal technique, and in some ways harder than part singing. Well done Bournemouth !
It was an extraordinary day of choral singing indeed, followed, on Saturday by a huge and fantastic day of adult choirs from all over the South of England and Wales. The standard was unbelievable, for the brilliant Cor Y Gleison who began with a heart stopping Die Irae from the Mozart Requiem, pinning us into our seats with a wall of sound ! They went on to sing so much repertoire throughout the day ranging from Welsh folk song to 21st century William Mathias song. There were some amazing Barbershop choirs including a notable on going 'vocal gloves off' competition between three ladies groups, Spinnaker from Portsmouth, Green Street Blues from Sevenoaks and Signature from Berkshire. There was barely the width of a credit card difference between them - they danced, they skipped, they radiated and all that on top of the finest singing. I was a stretched woman I can tell you. The costumes were beautiful, the military precision of the moves and the walk on and off all lead to the highest standard singing I have heard in many a year.
Then there was a vibrant group of Show Tunes choir, Do You Hear the People Sing, who performed with utter commitment and riveting staging, and another, Folks in Harmony who seemed to be able to span all genres, not just Barbershop, but straight choral singing as well. Their All in the April Evening was quite magical. Another modern group named The Funky Little Choir entertained us with fantastic close harmony show singing and an amazing negro spiritual complete with improvising soloist. We had the Leaf Charity Choir who give concerts specifically to raise money for Leukaemia research and who sang with true commitment, and two male voice choirs who entertained us royally. A church based choir from St Peter's joined our Welsh friends in the Sacred Song class and their belief and integrity shone through. Another group Wessex Harmony gave the barbershop choirs a run for their money with their light and detailed singing, along with Outhern Union Chorus and Solent City Chorus.........have I forgotten anyone ? I can't possibly as they all made such an impression upon me !
It was a breathtaking day. A day I will not forget in a long time. Thank you Bournemouth!
I left on Sunday morning after breakfast at the hotel where I have always stayed The Balincourt Hotel, where the service is excellent and the room so comfortable and stylish, and drove back to Sussex in my rather posh hired car. I spent a lovely day with the children and Mark ( our Gondoliers Duke!), then left for the airport. I settled into the Lounge to wait for my 8.20pm flight. Easyjet do it again, the flight was late arriving in from somewhere on the continent........and I finally arrived home on Paradise at 3am.
I mourn the loss of Flybe at Inverness every time I fly. They were always on time, always excellent service and one did not feel like cattle - AND the prices were just the same.
Winners in the sunshine - gorgeous dresses and gorgeous sunshine !