It was called ‘Do You Hear The People Sing?’
Yes, I did!
This 157 strong choir, thrown together for the first time on the morning of yesterday’s, took us through the magic of West End musicals under the expert direction of Thom Meredith and was the opening event of the 128th Mrs Sunderland Music Festival which runs from February 15-25.
This concert was the result of a choral workshop led by Thom and individual coaching from Huddersfield-born professional singer Rhianydd Beaumont.
Accompanying the choir, the talented Musica Youth Orchestra wowed us with a solid sound, excellent playing and tight ensemble.
Gordon Balmforth and Chris Pulleyn alternated in providing superb piano backing and Richard Buxton was the concert’s compère.
Beginning with a challenging musical snapshot from the hit musical ‘Wicked’ (Schwartz) the choir endeavoured to capture the show’s magical spirit and peaked in the gripping finale ‘Defying Gravity’ with outstanding orchestral support.
The first of the evening’s soloists, Emma Chapman, enthralled with a most theatrical rendition of quirky song ‘Popular’.
Next was a medley from Sir Andrew Lloyd-Webber’s classic ‘The Phantom of The Opera’.
No costumes were needed to conjure up the drama. Time stood still as we heard Bertie Yates’ soul-searching performance of ‘The Music of The Night’. The ‘voice of the night’ more like! Spell-binding.
In gentler numbers, such as ‘All I ask of You’ and ‘Wishing You were Somehow Here Again’ individual choral sections were exposed. Warm tones from the ladies and a sterling sound from the men, enriched by a small but robust tenor cohort.
An instrumental medley from jazz-infused Chicago (Kander) allowed this wonderful youth orchestra to shine. Spot-on percussion playing drove syncopated rhythms; cellos starred in ‘All That Jazz’ and excellent articulation from brass and woodwind in their snappy motifs alternated with vibrant violins in a feisty tango.
Emotions soared in the ‘Les Misérables’ selection (Schönberg). As in ‘Phantom’, the power of the opening and closing numbers stunned us while evenly blended harmonies and excellent diction featured in ‘Castle on a Cloud’.
Melissa Shindler and Peter Sutcliffe gave heartfelt performances of ‘I Dreamed a Dream’ and ‘Stars’ respectively. ‘Little People’ was delightful, sung by ten very talented little people! Perfect.
Another hugely successful collaboration between Musica Kirklees, The Huddersfield Mrs Sunderland Music Festival and a host of willing participants. Encore!