On 4th December, St Oswald’s Church was filled with joviality and jazz hands as Full Score treated us to a wide array of barbershop. From traditional barbershop to well-known songs and festive repertoire, Full Score certainly kept the audience engaged, especially with some fun audience participation in the middle! Coming from winning the ‘Best Music Society’ in the Palatinate Music and Theatre Awards last June, despite Full Score only being formed that academic year, the choir had a reputation to live up to and they did not disappoint.
Full Score are Durham’s only barbershop choir and in their second year as a society, so Music Director Alex Mackinder gave regular insights into the repertoire they were singing and barbershop as a genre in general. As Alex mentioned, harmony is one of the essential components of barbershop and in general the close harmonies had extremely good intonation. Even more impressive, was the choir’s ability to work as a unit, and sing precisely together with a well-blended sound, which showed excellent musicianship from every member.
The choreography was classic and entertaining, with a great sense of appropriation as to whether certain pieces needed full choreography or not. Whilst it was mostly well together, unfortunately moments with full choreography really highlighted when someone forgot an action, and at times looked untidy. Having said that, the enjoyment that shone through the whole performance was tangible, especially from Mackinder, who had an infectious energy, with his passion for barbershop illuminating the whole concert.
Although the sound and dynamic range of the full choir was impressive, equally impressive were the smaller groups and particularly the quartets of singers, who took us back to the original way barbershop was performed. First we heard the all male quartet, who created an accomplished sound, and once the intonation had settled down, the harmonies become even tighter and more enjoyable: a very passionate performance especially from the lead, Chris Savage. Next, we heard the all female quartet who seemed to click the moment they were on stage and delivered a superb rendition full of enjoyment from the performers and audience alike.
The audience participation was great fun with each voice part in the audience learning their specific part and then singing along with the choir, which introduced the audience to singing barbershop. Whilst most of Full Score’s programme was fun and festive, they also sent us away with an important message with their final song, ‘The World for Christmas’, which was about putting others before yourself in the festive season. Full Score are working closely with the mental health charity Head’s Up in Durham, who do really important work for Durham students suffering with mental health issues. To combine both these aspects, on the 12th December Full Score are having a ‘Big Christmas Sing’. For just £2, anyone is welcome to come along to sing festive tunes with Christmas jumpers and mince pies, all the while raising funds for Head’s Up Durham.
Overall, Full Score gave a marvellous performance! They are clearly a very accomplished barbershop choir. Particular credit should be given to President Becky Brookes and Musical Director Alex Mackinder for making the whole concert so special. Don’t miss them at the ‘Big Christmas Sing’ and their upcoming concerts this year!