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Concert Review - Vauxhall Male Voice Choir - 21st May 2011

"I should have taken a spare pair of socks - the ones I was wearing were completely blown away!"

One of our Church's major assets is it's gloriously live acoustic. But that can also be a bit of a two-edged sword.

Small-scale, intimate performances really shine here, but I'll confess that when the possibility of a performance by the Vauxhall Male Voice Choir was mooted at a PCC meeting earlier this year, I secretly harboured more than a little anxiety about the wisdom of bringing a choir of 40 lusty "Welsh Tenor Wannabees" into our easily swamped building.

I needn't have worried - the choir instantly proved their total professionalism by balancing their sound to magnificent effect. The result was a peformance of breathtaking passion and simply unbelievable agility and precision. It's a long time since my spine has tingled this much!

The guest soloist, Emma Wheeler (Mezzo Soprano) came as an "optional extra" to the standard VMVC package. As promised, she provided a well-judged contrast in pitch, scale and style, adding greatly to the textural and timbral variety of the concert. That alone would have been enough, but she gave us so much more than that. Emma instantly connected with our famed acoustic to give us two powerful yet intimate performances (one in each half) to the delight of our capacity audience.

Emma is due to go to Australia to study opera singing later this year, and I have a pretty strong hunch that we won't be able to afford to have her even cut a ribbon to open an event, let alone perform at St Michael's by the time she's finished there. Definately a singer to watch out for...

I must also give a personal "round of applause" for the choir's accompanist, James Banville. James' job as accompanist on the night was simply to make the other performers sound great. I'm happy to report that he achieved this "with bells on".

Without ever drawing unnecessary attention to himself he augmented both the choir's and Emma's performances to a degree that I didn't think was possible with an electric grand piano and our very special, often tempramental, but rarely showcased organ. James; thank you!

Source: Stephen Lines

Review Date: 22nd May 2011

St Michael & All Angels Parish Church • High Street • Shefford • Bedfordshire • SG17 5DD • UK
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