Full Score during A Cappella at the Gala earlier in the term. Photo Credits: Archie Collins
Full Score’s Epiphany concert set in the grandeur of Castle Great Hall was aptly named Smile as it kept the audience smiling the whole way through. The barbershop choir, positioned in a semicircle, displayed an array of songs of different genres from musical theatre to Disney, to pop, showing the diversity of the musicians. Still a reasonably new ensemble, founded in 2017, they have already easily asserted themselves in the Music Durham scene. The concert included several whole choir numbers as well as quartets and the set list was wide-ranging, including Tonight, Can’t Help Falling in Love, You are my Sunshine and All Star.
We laughed with Emily Longman, a member of the choir and the compère, as she introduced each member by name so we ‘could write a Tindur about them’ after, and joked that it was too early in the show for audience participation, as we participated. Her humour came naturally and created a relaxed and jovial atmosphere. The comedy continued as some of the lower voices acted as monkeys in I Wanna Be Like You from the Jungle Book, and the lively Aladdin Medley’s ending was met by a snigger from the choir. Where there was the occasional slip in pitch, or uncertainty in tempo, the comedic value more than made up for it. We as an audience felt like we were on a journey with them, laughing when they laughed. Part of the real enjoyment was that they didn’t take themselves too seriously allowing us to relax into the fun of it.
Hallelujah was the first number of the show and only got more confident as it progressed. Several songs had simple but effective choreography, particularly enthusiastically performed by the lower voices who provided plentiful energy throughout. Special mentions must go to president James Wakefield, musical director Ben Osland and assistant musical director Luis-Paul Gray who not only lead the choir through rehearsals and the performance, but also had their moments in the spotlight. Osland’s rendition of Your Man showed off his crystal clear lower register whilst his stage presence was standout. Wakefield and Gray similarly showed an expert command of the music.
The venue was an excellent choice: truly picturesque with a history of music being heard in it. However, throughout the concert occasionally words were lost due to quick talking and no amplification but this is easily remedied and did not overly detract from the concert.
A highlight of the concert was Sondheim’s Losing my Mind which was clearly well prepared, assured, and enjoyed, making a magical atmosphere. This was only enhanced by Scarlett William’s rich low notes, and Rowan Aufrichtig Downie’s tender solo, which was one of several moments making him a notable talent throughout.
Musically, the dynamics were a particular strength – broad and effectively used; a testament to excellent musical direction. They were especially well used in Bridge Over Troubled Water with a particularly enchanting pianissimo on ‘sail on silver girl’. Bridge Over Troubled Water, and Can’t Help Falling in Love also stood out for their particularly sensitive openings due to clear conducting, and a choir clearly attentive to what other voice parts were doing. They showed responsiveness to one another, creating some of the best moments of the night and conquering one of the most difficult tasks in choral singing.
Despite some less confident moments, Fullscore provided an evening of light entertainment showcasing excellent musicianship and a whole host of talented performers.
By Sarah Pierce