Music in the Afternoon
Visitors from the East received a warm welcome at Christ Church on July 8th for the third edition of the ‘Music in the Afternoon’ series. The South Pennine Singers, a 24 strong chamber choir whose members, are mainly from Burnley, Rossendale and Pendle Districts of the County performed a wide ranging quality programme of both choral and solo items under the direction of Geoff Balson, their founder and musical director. Originally a group of music teachers who came together for the pleasure of singing in 1988, the choir membership has now widened and presents about twelve concerts a year.
The concert began with a spontaneous outburst of ‘Canticorum Jubilo’ from Handel’s Oratorio Judas Maccabeus. This was then followed by two anthems by the popular choral composer John Rutter, in which they quickly demonstrated their fine choral strength and balanced sound. Co-conductor Sue Temperley, who shared the podium with Geoff, led the singers in contrasting arrangements from a Hebrew part song ‘Simi Jadech’ to two working songs from America’s deep south, ‘Pick a Bale of Cotton’ and ‘Shine on me’ featuring a quartet. [pictures from the concert]
Not content with singing in a variety of languages including Latin, English, Hebrew and Italian, the choir then presented Geoff’s vocalised arrangement called ‘Eine Kleine Mozart’, The audience was then transported across the Atlantic in the form of two American Folk Song arrangements by Aaron Copland, a further demonstration of their attention to dynamic detail and diction (not to mention their realistic animal sounds!)
The ‘Ascot Gavotte’ from ‘My Fair Lady’ gave an opportunity for the ladies, under Sue’s direction once again, to put on their hats and take us to the races. Other arrangements included Bob Chilcot’s ‘Morning has Broken’, Mike Sammes’ ‘Soldier,Soldier,’ and Benny Anderson’s ‘I know Him so Well’ from Chess.
Solo performances offered contrasts between the choral items. Barbara Taylor gave a warm rendition of ‘Nella Fantasia’ (the well-loved melody ‘Gabriel’s Oboe from ‘The Mission’), Andrea Goffee sang ‘If I loved you’ from Carousel, among other impressive solo lead moments. Heather Nicholas led the singing beautifully in the second of Geoff’s arrangements, ‘I the Lord of Sea and Sky’ which was a most distinctive highlight in the programme and captured a wonderful atmosphere. Solo performances by Ann and Robert also featured in ‘I’ll be there’. Throughout the afternoon, the choir’s able accompanist Valerie Shoesmith provided excellent support.
The varied programme had been very ably introduced throughout by Evelyn Fawcett, who entertained the audience with her heart-warming humour and went to complete her show of talent by singing the comic song ‘Stately as a Galleon’ with Geoff at the piano.
The final part of the programme included the third of Geoff’s Arrangements ‘Steal Away’ which again demonstrated excellent control and balance between the parts. Howard Goodall’s impressive arrangement ‘Love Divine’ was a fitting finale to the afternoon.
The audience responded to this entertaining concert with rapturous applause and ticket contributions amounted to £370 for the Lancashire District Sierra Leone Project.
More information about the Singers, who are always interested in new members and hearing of venues in which to perform, can be found at www.southpenninesingers.com
Carol Rose/Jason McMahon