Despite being the newest a cappella group in Durham, the Foot Notes have already become well established. They are a talented mixed group of vocalists and have been very well received amongst the university, with recent performances at the Van Mildert ball and at Palace Green’s ‘Catch Your Breath’ exhibition.
Opening with pop classic ‘Valerie’, the audience were immediately captivated, particularly by the solo vocals from Victoria Bezuidenhout. Selecting a non-Christmas related song worked in their favour, particularly with this upbeat song that established that this concert would be entertaining and varied. This was juxtaposed with classical pieces such as ‘Hear My Prayer’ by Purcell. Although there were slight intonation issues, this was still extremely impressive considering the difficulties of unaccompanied singing and the especially complex harmonies in this piece. Tuning improved in Lotti’s ‘Crucifixus’ with lovely warm tones from the whole ensemble, but at times it was difficult to hear the inner parts. The all-female trio that performed ‘Laudate Dominum’ by Mozart managed to co-ordinate their phrasing well with good tone control and projection in the space.
Equally, the more traditional Christmas numbers were well received, and were a lovely send off into the festive season. ‘Mary Had a Baby’ was phrased beautifully, particularly in the first soprano line with a pure tone and good balance and blending of sound across the ensemble. ‘Have yourself a Merry Little Christmas’ was suitably serene and relaxing aided by perfectly coordinated ensemble phrasing and this would only be improved by more confidence from the solo lines. It could have been performed at a slightly faster tempo but this would serve only to alter the interpretation rather than improve it. Appropriately dreamy and romantic, ‘White Christmas’ was a joy to listen to. There could have been more dynamic contrast in ‘In the Bleak Midwinter’ among some other pieces, however the general mood was portrayed perfectly.
Other highlights of the concert included solos and arrangements by members of the ensemble. Megan Cunnington completed an arrangement of ‘Take My Breath Away’ which underlined a range of interesting harmonies. Finishing with a unison crescendo, it was a wonderful arrangement although at times the words were a little hard to distinguish. The conductor managed the ensemble very well being clear without being overly indulgent. Emma Burke’s solo lines in ‘I Wanna Dance With Somebody’ were sung with evident excitement and energy which helped drive the piece, although the accompaniment overpowered her sometimes. The first modulation was slightly hesitant but the second proved that there was no need for this as it was executed excellently. ‘Summertime’ featured a strong solo from Finlay Gordon which appropriately captured the lavish luxury of the piece. This piece featured humming, and others included other sounds likes beatboxing which really enhanced the performances and kept the pieces fresh and interesting, but at times they could be hard to distinguish due to balance. It was fabulous to see the singers enjoying themselves particularly in their closing ‘Abba Capella’ arrangement which was buzzing with joy.
The whole evening was extremely enjoyable and it was a pleasure to experience the talent evident of each individual in the Foot Notes, and witness their cohesion and love of performing. We look forward to hearing much more from this group.