There’s a lot of pressure on a choir in hosting an annual show. The confidence that you’ve rehearsed enough but not so much that you’ve sung the life out of the songs, the belief that your marketing efforts will bring an enthusiastic and receptive audience, the hope that your choristers aren’t struck down with a collective cough on the night.
I’m pleased to report that the Bridgend Male Choir let none of these pressures get to them at their annual show. Held on Friday, 6th October 2017 at Tabernacl Church in Bridgend, the 87-strong choir put on a celebration of music to a full house. In fact, there were so many wonderful features to the show that it’s difficult to know where to begin with the praise!
The programme offered a great selection of music from different genres – presentations from cinema, opera and musical theatre sat happily alongside the great Welsh hymns and spirituals. Whereas some choirs may be tempted to carve the programme in two with the sacred songs featuring in the first half and the lighter numbers in the second, the music team put together a balanced and well-considered selection of contrasting songs and instrumental pieces across the entire programme of over two hours’ worth of entertainment.
The show opened with the rousing ‘Builth’ and its great Amen chorus setting the confident tone for the evening, and dotted throughout the programme were lighter songs including the wonderful arrangement by Humphreys of Bruce Belland’s ‘What would I do without my Music’ and the poignant Sammes and Binyon’s ‘For the fallen’ with its Last Post motifs. All were beautifully handled by the choir.
There were some lovely touches in the soloist’s choices of music too. Pendyrus Male Choir’s MD, Stewart Roberts, played a cello arrangement of Mendelssohn’s’ Song without Words’, with organist Scott Williams presenting Kara-Elert’s ‘Nun danket alle Gott’. And what a privilege to hear the amazing Charlotte Vaughan sing five contrasting numbers with a breathtaking display of her vocal range and characterisation. Well-chosen were two challenging arias – Gounod’s ‘Je Veux Vivre’ and ‘Glitter and be Gay’ from Bernstein’s Candide, and Charlotte charmed the audience with a beautiful Welsh version of ‘Somewhere over the rainbow’. Both the choir and audience took to their feet to give her a well-deserved ovation. BBC Radio Wales’ Beverley Humphreys provided the seamless segues and introductions to the musical choices and the choir’s resident accompanist, Stephanie Bailey, kept steady ground to the choir’s vocal efforts.
My last notes of praise are reserved for Ryan Wood, who joined the choir as Musical Director just a year ago. This is a choir which displays strength of harmony, great handling of dynamics and sensitivity towards the mood and emotions of the music along with vocal clarity to ensure that every word is heard – achievements which are in no small part down to the ability of the musical director. There’s a great sense of camaraderie, community and above all, trust displayed in this choir – a choir in which the Musical Director congratulates his singers for a song well sung and is rewarded by even better singing. For an audience, it’s a community that is wonderful to be witness to and part of. I’m already looking forward to next year’s roof-raising celebration of music!
Debbie, Notes from Last Night
About Debbie Nichol: A lifelong lover of music of all types, Debbie Nichol is currently studying an MA in Music, focussing on music performance and repertoire, and music reception and social histories. By trade she’s a freelance marketing specialist and when not studying or working, spends time singing with a chamber choir and performing solo, and writing a music blog: www.notesfromlastnight.co.uk