Following their fantastic performance in Stage and Screen Act 1 in the Cathedral, Full Score treated us to a relaxed and high-quality performance on Saturday 15th June in the Music Department Concert Room. As the audience entered the room, we were greeted by some background music provided by a couple of performers (both music and voice). Refreshments were provided and audience members encouraged to sit on picnic blankets, reinforcing the friendly and relaxed vibe of the event.
The concert opened with a ‘I love Jazz’ medley, brilliantly executed by the choir. While their performance showed immense energy and enthusiasm, the singers managed to keep flawless intonation and were incredibly cohesive. After a short introduction of the society and barbershop singing, conductor and co-founder Full Score Alex Mackinder led the group into a rendition of ‘Make ‘Em Laugh’ from Singin’ in the Rain. Although diction could have been clearer in some fast passages, special mention must be given to the bass section who had powerful and passionate interventions.
For a change in atmosphere, the choir then sung ‘Their Hearts Were Full of Spring’, a tender and sad romance. The melody was carried beautifully by the soprano section. Further, the ensemble as a whole demonstrated here that they are able to master subtle dynamics to great emotive effect.
The following set featured a girls’ quartet, treating us to an arrangement of ‘I See the Light’ from Disney’s Tangled. Lead Evie Hill carried out the tune with character and musicality, successfully embodying the character of Rapunzel and supported brilliantly by the beautiful harmonies of Emily Thompson (tenor), Lucie Goddard (Baritone) and Kate Arnold (Bass). Although a couple of uncertainties in terms of tuning and balance could be heard at the beginning, they were quickly rectified by the singers.
The Full Score audition process includes a song that applicants must perform as part of a quartet; and this year’s song, ‘Once Upon a Time’ from All American was so popular among today’s performers that they decided to bring it on stage! The catchy tune was performed with energy, and beautiful singing from tenors. Also of particular note in the first half was the performance of a ‘Notre Dame Medley’ from Disney’s The Hunchback of Notre Dame. Some of us already had the pleasure of listening to this piece a week earlier in the Music Durham Concert in the Cathedral, and Full Score once again did not disappoint. The song was very demanding, and it was at times possible to hear the voices of the performers getting tired. Their enthusiasm however made up for it, and they managed to pull off some impressive chords with fantastic intensity and projection. The spoken interventions of the singers also reinforced a sense of musical theatre.
The second half of the concert started with a lovely rendition of ‘Isn’t She Lovely.’ We could easily hear the tune being passed through each section of the choir, with special mention to the sopranos. One of the highlights of the concert was without contest the rendition of ‘Sit Down, You’re Rocking the Boat’ from Guys and Dolls by the Boys’ Quartet. Angus Shennan captivated the audience from the moment he started to sing, and was soon joined by the outstanding performances of Rory McNeilage (Bass), Jonny Hewitt (Baritone) and Alex Mackinder (tenor). All four singers had beautiful timbres and demonstrated great musicality and passion through such an energetic song.
The ensemble continued with a calmer and very nostalgic song from Pixar’s Toy Story 2, ‘When She Loved Me.’ Sung with simplicity and emotion, the choir offered us a touching performance of the piece, featuring some remarkable singing of the inner parts notably. Following the Full Score classic ‘Sing, Sing, Sing!’’, as always perfectly executed, the final piece of the concert was ‘Smile’ by Charlie Chaplin. As the conductor pointed out, though the harmonies were not as complex as the rest of the songs performed during the concert, the lyrics were the main point of interest in the song. With impeccable diction and simple yet delightful singing, Full Score ended the concert on a high note, reflecting the end of an exciting and successful year.
As always, it is hard not to be incredibly impressed by how easily Full Score capture the barbershop sound and how easily they overcome the harmonic challenges so inherent to the genre. Despite the departure of several members at the end of this year, notably of conductor Alex Mackinder and president Becky Brookes, there is no doubt that Full Score will continue to thrive with their talent, versatility and contagious enthusiasm!