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By Sandy Holt Arts Entertainer Editor Stratford Herald 5th April 2012 www.stratford-herald.com
ALCESTER Male Voice Choir is renowned for its diversity when it comes to its performances, and this year’s 38th annual concert was no exception.
Not only did the singers up their anti by performing in Town Hall, they shared the platform with special guests Orchestra of the Swan, local pianist Elliott Rooney, Rutleigh Norris Ballet School and other solo musicians and singers.
Performing away from home didn’t deter the choir’s loyal followers from attending – in fact 11 coaches brought audiences from all over the region to see what turned out to be a spectacular evening of virtuoso performances.
In the presence of the Marquess of Hertford, the High Sheriff of Warwickshire, Tim Cox; the Chairman of Stratford District Council, Cllr Eric Payne, and many other distinguished guests, Alcester town crier David Parkes opened and presented the proceedings.
The 72 –strong choir began with elegance as they performed Vivaldi’s Gloria and Ennio Morricone’s Nella Fantasia, promptly followed by Elgar’s Serenade for Strings performed by the orchestra under the baton of its artistic Director, David Curtis.
Next to the platform was pianist Mr Rooney whose faultless performances of Gershwin’s Preludes 2 and 3 showed just how accomplished this young musician is.
Mr Rooney along side distinquished organist Andrew Fletcher also provided accompaniment to the choir throughout.
The popular male voice choir then changed tempo with lively performances of Swanee, I Got Plenty of Nuttin’,Annie’s Song and All Through the Night (featuring a very competent Owen Vickery on guitar) bringing the first half to a close with Let All Men Sing.
In the second half the choir’s excellent harmoniesreally came into their own as they energetically continued with extra vocal finesse. For this section the audience was offered variety with Rutleigh Dancers performing to the choir’s Cabaret and Lord of the Dance and soloist CeCelia Wickham Anderson and conga drummer Sarah Westwood gave that extra dimension during African Trilogy.
Special mention should be made of the orchestra’s lead violinist, Nicole Wilson, whose sophisticated performances, especially in Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons, and Karl Jenkins’ Palladio emitted nothing less than perfectionism both in her passion and technique. Christus Redemptor provided the perfect finale for the prestigious choir and an encore of Lord of the Dance brought the proceedings to a close.
A great success not only for the choir who pushed the boundaries but for its founder Judith Land who led the singers through what was an interesting and well chosen programme.