A collaboration between two of Durham’s finest acapella groups was always going to draw in quite the crowd, and the near sell out show from Dynamics and Full Score was not one to miss. Gently combining their respective styles, this concert was a fantastic display of the breadth of vocal talent within Durham. Dynamics, well known for a more contemporary pop sound, combined with Full Score, a more jazzy style due to the nature of barbershop, provided a highly entertaining evening exploring the strengths of both groups respectively.
Set in St Oswald’s church, the acoustic made for some lovely moments within the show, and really aided some of the more intimate songs, which then contrasted to some of the bigger, more energetic numbers beautifully. A minor consideration for the venue would be to place slightly more emphasis on some of the phrasing, as some lyrics were missed due to the nature of the soundscape. However, beyond this minor factor, the set list was expertly chosen, and showcased the groups’ skills perfectly.
The show consisted of some truly exemplary examples of skillful harmony. Both choirs explored some difficult pieces with tight knit and complicated harmonies, which was impressive. For me, some of the highlights included Dynamics’ performance of Royals, which demonstrated the group’s togetherness, as each member brought an infectious energy. Additionally, within Dynamics, the soloists were perfect for their respective songs. This was most evident in Emily Philips’ performance of Jolene, whose effortless riffs added some beautiful variation and depth to the song, and Hannah Burkes’ performance within Domino, which showcased her unbelievable vocals, through her strong belts and confident sustained notes. Throughout, Dynamics maintained a high performance value from the sheer vocal excellence on display. Each individual bounced off each other superbly, making for a highly entertaining performance. It’s clear that the group genuinely gets along, as everyone was very clearly enjoying their time onstage, which is lovely to see. It is also worth mentioning some of the brilliant arrangers within the group. Much of the student composed pieces were impressive, and highlighted individuals strengths well.
Full Score also delivered throughout. With the excellent introductions to each song (credit must go to Adam, Rachel, Luis, and Rowan for these hilarious moments) the performances were highly interactive and engaging. Vocally, Full Score truly demonstrated their range and versatility as a choir, highlighting the many ways in which barbershop can be interpreted. Ranging from more traditional barbershop songs, to classics such as “Crazy Little Thing Called Love,” the choir grew from strength to strength. Some of the soaring notes were particularly impressive, and a vocal standout came from the first close quartet, from Luis Paul-Gray in “Blame it on the Boogie.” Overall, one of my main takeaways from the group was the sheer energy put into their performance. The cohesion of the group shone through the varied set that played to the strengths of performers, and allowed for the personality of the group to shine through. The musical direction from Full Score was also clearly particularly impressive, so I commend Luis Paul-Gray for this again. The shaping of each individual song allowed for some exemplary dynamics.
Across the board for both groups, there were slight moments where pitch slightly faltered, but this is very much so to be expected when considering the difficulty level and length of the show as a whole. These moments were quickly remedied and went unnoticed to the naked ear.
Overall, this was a really lovely evening out, and I highly recommend checking out either of these two groups for some excellent quality feel good acapella. The breadth and range of these groups were on display within this performance, and I can guarantee that both (individually or together,) will absolutely provide a night of entertainment that demonstrates the extensive talent within Durham. I only wish the show happened more than once so more people could see it.