Brighton’s choral scene has never been more buoyant and increasingly accomplished. And much of that success lies in hands of our incredible LGBTQ+ choirs. At Christmas they come out, forgive the allusion, and deliver festive treats with programmes that reflect the season from the  religious to the secular.

Resound is an all male ensemble that for years now has been raising the bar in terms of ambition and accomplishment and this season’s offering was yet another feast of sensational singing and giddy campery.

Resound are regularly joined by their sister choir Rebelles, not LGBTQ+ as such but falling clearly and supportingly in the camp of allies. The combination of the two groups when singing together delivers that full power of choral music and together they show masterly skill and artistry.

This time round we were treated to some extraordinary singing from each choir individually and again when they join forces. The programme was to say the least eclectic. Sam Barton works closely with the choir in choosing their repertoire but is perhaps the force behind some of their choices and hence some of the more exacting and ambitious pieces selected.

Last night we had Tippet, Britten, Holst and Rachmaninov, stirring stuff delivered with real power and style. It is always something of a surprise and indeed a mystery how these performers get their heads around not only singing but learning pieces in unfamiliar languages and last night we had church Slavonic and Haitian!

Alongside their more classic and challenging we get a selection of popular, and perhaps no less challenging pieces, some still serious yes and some, well some silly. Cyndi Lauper’s Christmas Conga perhaps the silliest and in my view not best placed as their final offering bar that excellent and rousing encore.

In a rock solid evening of music there are always highlights too and moments less so. Rebelles delivered a stunning arrangement of Stand By Me with a soaring solo at the climax that proved that white women can sing soul, a spine tingling moment for sure. In contrast the lovely Billy Joel song And So It Goes came late in the second set and the quiet and pure arrangement left a choir, no doubt already exhausted, rather exposed with some tiny pitching issues. It’s a minor quibble and one that I suspect would not have arisen had the piece been delivered earlier in the evening.

What it does prove though is that both individually and collectively Rebelles and Resound are at the very forefront of the city’s community choirs when it comes to programming and performance.

Full praise must be given to their choral leaders Sam Barton and Antonia Hyatt and their accomplished  pianist Howard Beach with Francesca Urquhart on double bass and tom Hyatt on percussion. An excellent evening of music, a terrifyingly ghastly array of Christmas jumpers and proof once again that this lot are the choir to see.

Andrew Kay

8 December

St Luke’s

Rating: ★★★★½

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