Sunday, June 7

Actually Gay Men’s Chorus: Let It Snow

- December 22, 2019

My season of choral offerings ended tonight on a real high, The Actually’s delivered a stylish, well balanced and finely sung programme of music that ticked oh so many boxes. How lovely it was to start the evening with the luscious sounds of Harvey’s Brass Ensemble, nothing makes me feel more Christmassy than the sound of brass. Gerry McCrudden hosted the evening with charm and wit, and yes some truly awful jokes, but even they worked in their own way.

It was also great to have two guest voices, the fine soprano of Karen Orchin and the wicked vocal power of Kara Van Park. Add to this a beautifully written and delivered new poem from actor and chorus member Jack Lynn, witty and touching too.

So on to the the chorus who are on top form. Their musical director Samuel Cousins has given them some real challenges in a programme that goes from classical to popular with seamless ease. There are moments when you get the full and rich sound of a classic male voice choir and moments of gentle tenderness, a delicacy that worked so well in St Andrew’s Church.

In a packed evening of song there were so many highs, too many to list all here. But for me the best moments came when the choir sang with the soloists, a format that I would like to hear more from other community choirs. That balance of solo and duet voices when backed by a chorus is so rich and so moving that tonight it created some spine tingling moments.

The second half started with a Disney medley, again using solo voices plucked from throughout the choir to great effect, then a beautifully delivered Torches. Carl Jenkins’ Benedictus worked beautifully in the forte sections, the sotto voce sections were less confident and could actually have been delivered with a touch more force in the soft acoustic of the space but when it came to Christmas Lights the rich voices of Cyrus Dean and Chidi Ogbonnaya had the hairs on my neck rising.

The evening ended with some seasonal classics, The Twelve DaysOf Christmas and We Wish You A Merry Christmas, and the atmosphere they had created, made one feel that this choir really meant it.

Choir, solo, brass bands and a few carols to join in with, Christmas is here!

St Andrew’s Church

21 December

Andrew Kay

Rating: ★★★★★

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