82nd Summer Festival Concert

Wednesday 6th August, 2014 - 7:08pm

What a Gala Night performance was Mousehole Male Voice Choir's 82nd Summer Festival Concert in St. Mary's Church, Penzance on Sunday, 3rd August. The weeks of preparation were made worthwhile by a superb quality of singing, and the clear diction at which the choir excels, in presenting a well chosen programme. Small wonder that Musical Director Stephen Lawry has just been made a Bard of the Cornish Gorsedd for his services to music.

Stephen and the choir presented a full programme of seventeen pieces in four groups; each group included new items added to their repertoire this year. All were well performed with the support of  the choir's very talented Accompanist, Annette Turton. It is hard to pick out the 'best' pieces because the standard was so high but 'Freedom Is Coming' with a drum accompaniment gave it a special feel; 'Wade In The Water' and 'We Rise Again' and 'Rock  Island Line' were particularly stirring.

The guest artiste, Soprano Héloise West, sang three groups of songs, each with a different nature, opening her programme with three Spirituals, 'Steal Away', 'Swing Low' and the haunting cry of 'Sometimes I Feed Like A Motherless Child'. 

Her second group of songs were five familiar ballads and included 'The Sally Gardens', 'Danny Boy' and 'The Streets of Laredo'. 

For her third group, Héloise chose three songs from the shows, including 'Summertime' from George Gershwin's opera, Porgy and Bess — one of my own personal favourites. Héloise has a delightful warmth to her voice and a versatility which was well demonstrated by the variety of her programme in all of which she was supported by her Accompanist, Nigel Wicken. When pressed for an encore, she sang the amusing 'Miss Otis Regrets She's Unable To Dine Today'. If there was a disappointment it was her failure to include something from the world of opera and oratorio; a surprising omission considering this is her principal working activity.

The closing group made a fitting ending to a wonderful evening with Héloise joining the choir for a powerful rendering of 'You'll Never Walk Alone'. Then a new piece in the repertoire, 'Till The Stars Fall From The Sky', 'The White Rose' sung in Cornish, Michael Martin's 'When I Hear Music' — which stirs many memories for me — and then Puccini's 'Nessun Dorma' which had the audience begging for more. The concert closed with the moving 'Anthem' from Chess and, sadly, it was time to go home.

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