Voices commendably performed their last concert of the year, ‘Tunes in June’, in St Oswald’s Church. Beginning with the classic ‘Oh Danny Boy’, there was clear communication between the conductor, Daniel Murphy, and the singers. The text was clear, and intonation remained sound throughout the a capella piece, and although balance was a challenge given the serious gender imbalance, the sole bass, Andrew Narracott, could be heard well and was performed admirably.
Next was ‘Rocky Road to Dublin’. The tempo was a good choice in providing energy in the performance, although the text was occasionally lost, and I would’ve liked to hear more dynamic variation. The latter was adhered to in ‘Mad World’, where, as throughout the evening, the inner parts were not overpowered by the melody, nor vice versa, creating an especially moving performance with the music. I think the choir could be a bit tighter on the descending melismas if they detached the notes slightly instead of singing the slur as written on the page. The confidence of the pianist, Stephen Rouse, and of Daniel, both in conducting and occasionally playing the guitar, was great. I think the choir would be even more confident if their layout was in two lines in a block as opposed to a single long arch across the stage.
In Bowie’s popular ‘Life on Mars’, the balance wasn’t bad among the imitative parts, although exits could be cleaner and sustained until the end. The following choir favourite, concluding the first half, was ‘Trouble and My Broken Heart’. The choir clearly enjoyed the song, although the tempo was hasty and the performance was therefore a little messy.
After the interval, the executive team sweetly sang ‘I Can’t Help Falling in Love’ with two ukuleles, demonstrating the close relationships formed within the committee and choir as a whole and as part of their thank you to their committed conductor of three years, Dan. The next song clearly showed their love for what they do as they encouraged the audience to sing along in the cumulative song, ‘Rattlin’ Bog’, which kept together very well despite the disorienting nature of the piece!
‘Found Tonight’ is a moving composition, written in aid of ‘March of Our Lives’ to combat gun violence, and the choir gave it its due attention. To conclude the concert, they performed their most complex arrangement, one of the most famous songs by Sting, ‘Fields of Gold’. The performance included three beautiful solos given by Melody Bishop, Jade Correa and Hannah Dickinson, where their confidence and passion shone through. Sometimes secondary lines could come out of the texture a little too glaringly, although their overall performance of this classic was laudable.
Albeit an ad lib ending, congratulations for the well-programmed, creditable concert should be offered to Voices and particularly their President, Rosie Wardman, and Musical Director, Daniel Murphy, who not only conducts and occasionally accompanies the ensemble, but arranges most of the music himself. I offer the best of luck in Daniel’s future after Durham and to Voices in their quest for a worthy successor.