Resound is one of those choirs that is continually moving forward musically. Their chosen genre is, well it’s genre fluid! Never turn up knowing what to expect because you are bound to be surprised.

For this outing they are fewer in number than usual but that sparsity adds a level of clarity and purity to their sound in my view, and in the small, but perfectly formed Chapel Royal, that sounds is beautifully contained.

There is always a sense of community with this ensemble, with a programme that is presented by various members, all who talk about their personal connection to the music and also to their connection to the choir. Chorus leader Sam Barton has been with them for a few seasons now and his leadership is taking the choir in a variety of new directions, whist still maintaining that eclectic repertoire that we have come to enjoy. And that repertoire can be challenging, not only for them but also for the audience. I come away always needing to search out more from the composers that I have heard for the first time, it’s an expansive and expanding experience.

Last night we were treated to an extraordinary range of sounds, starting a gospel classic. Personally I find that lots of gospel music delivered by UK choirs lacks  something, does it have the right swing or is it a sense of spirituality? Resound somehow got There Is A Meeting Here Tonight so so right. It dipped and swelled, whispered and roared and created a great opening to an evening of music. Seranade Italienne continued in a gentler tone before Keri Davies introduced Dulaman, a traditional Irish song that he was charged with taking the solo lines in, a role he explained was handed to him as punishment for missing a few rehearsals but also because as a Welsh language speaker it was felt he could get his tongue around the Celtic. Of course he certainly could and this rousing number was massively enjoyable.

The Blower’s Daughter explored a more intimate soundscape, JJ Thurlow-Criss singing solo with Sam Barton accompanying on cello, David Farrer on guitar and Chris Jameson on violin, really delightful despite a false start.

Shifting the grouping around, David Farrer switched to twelve string and was joined by Barry Haywood, Keri Davies and Chris Jameson and latterly by the whole choir to sing Paul Simon’s very beautiful The Only Living Boy In New York. Here they prove that as a choir they are not firmly bound by a traditional male voice choir sound but can also deliver modern “pop” phrasing and riffing, and they do it with class.

Part one ended with Valediction by Basil Richmond in which JJ Thurlow-Chriss is featured, a voice that has an actor’s touch, and then a very beautiful Visions and Dreams featuring Barry Heywood and James Frey-Croft, challenging stuff indeed and the stuff that makes this choir so exciting to see and hear.

After a short interval we get Fire, and my word this is HOT! Katerina Gimon creates the most terrifying soundscape of rhythms and weird vocal explosions. Personally I was taken back to a childhood memory of Blackpool where, at the entrance to the Pleasure Beach, there was a glass case contains an animatronic King of Fools who would rock back and forth on his throne laughing hysterically. How I felt for the guy who sang that role who finished red in face and  clearly exhausted. I loved it!

Drill Ye Tarriers Drill is a working railman’s song, a robust traditional song, American but no doubt born of Irish immigrant roots, and is packed with humour and makes full use of the range of voices in the choir, in particular Darren Clarke, Keri Davies and Barry Heywood.

Voice Of The Bard took us on a gentler journey before leading to Sam Barton taking a well earned and beautifully delivered solo with Benjamin Britten’s Nocturne. And here it seems right to mention their piano accompanist Claire Williams. I love the sometimes sparse piano arrangement that Britten created for songs and this was delivered with restrained style and purity.

In contrast next a bit of McCartney, For No One, a sad song of love lost which David Farrer and Barry Heywood sang, dare I say it, better than the mop haired Beatle!

And straight on to Toxic. I am no Britney fan after seeing the dismal pop princess mime at Pride a few years back, but I throughly enjoyed this hilarious and dynamic arrangement, once again displaying the groups diversity.

To round off this musical journey we get Homeward Bound, delightful, and finally End Of The World, again showing the skill of this choir and their ambition.

As an encore we get a dose of silliness, Seaside Rendezvous, a Freddy Mercury piece of nonsense, that included kazoos and a swanee whistles, jolly stuff, crazy even, not to my taste maybe but lovely to see the choir having a moment of joyous fun as reward for an evening of concentration and expertise.

Of all the local choirs Resound never fail to move forward in their exploration of choral sound and that alone makes their concerts the ones not to miss.

Andrew Kay

28 June

The Chapel Royal


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