A privilege for the Leigh Orpheus to sing with ten other male voice choirs in a Gala Concert that choir members there on the night will remember for many years to come.
All available seating was taken by the capacity audience at this impressive and prestigious venue, keen to hear 400 talented men from eleven different choirs singing together.
The choirs taking part:
The Gentlemen Songsters
Oxford Welsh Male Voice Choir
Kidderminster Male Choir
Leigh Orpheus Male Voice Choir
City of Newport Male Choir
Torbay Police and Community Choir
Imperial Male Voice Choir
Budleigh Salterton Male Voice Choir
Romsey Male Voice Choir
Epsom Male Voice Choir
Bournemouth Male Voice Choir
The colourful uniforms of the choirs made quite a picture.
Under the Bournemouth MVC’s Musical Director Mark Burstow the concert began with the massed choir singing ‘African Prayer’ (Nkosi Sikele’I Africa), skillfully delivered in three languages – Zulu, Xhosa and English.
Next the third and second placed choirs in a choral competition earlier in the day performed – Romsey Male Voice Choir and the Gentlemen Songsters respectively. Their supporters applauded, the rest of the audience applauded, the other choirs on stage applauded. Excellent male voice choir music both in its quality and in its variety.
A break from the singing while there was entertainment of a different kind – the local group ‘Dance Crazy’ danced and moved in ways that many on stage could only envy (although some were taken back to memories of earlier years!).
A return to male voice choir music with the massed choirs singing two pieces – ‘Softly as I Leave You’ and the staple of many male voice choirs ‘Morte Christe’. Many choirs needed to sing from their music. Not so the Leigh Orpheus! Word and note perfect, Leigh Orpheus members confidently sang, as we normally do in concerts, from memory.
To listen to the live recording of ‘Softly’, made by a friend of the Leigh Orpheus Debbie Burton, click on this picture:
Next, the interval when audience members and choirs alike could take a break. As a result of where some of the Leigh Orpheus choir members were positioned in the raked seating on the stage if they’d got out they’d never have got back before the start of the second half so they stayed put, enviously eyeing those buying ice creams and imagining those who had made it outside to the bar.
Starting the second half the massed choirs sang ‘The Turtle Dove’ with Mike Weaver from the Bournemouth Male Voice Choir singing superb solos within the piece. Then more ‘Dance Crazy, and next the opportunity to hear hosts the Bournemouth Male Voice Choir sing a number of pieces. Many audience members were in raptures over the variety and quality of the pieces Bournemouth sang.
The results of the first three places in the competition had been announced earlier in the afternoon and at this point in the evening all eyes (and ears) were on the First Place choir, Imperial Male Voice Choir. Following the presentation to them of their prize – a cheque for £1,000 – they entertained the audience with a variety of pieces. It was easy to understand why this choir, based in London, had come first. Absolutely superb, and the audience showed how they agreed with the adjudicators’ decison. So did the other choirs on stage. Imperial’s pieces were perfect in every way.
To finish the concert two pieces from the massed choirs, both pieces well-known to the Leigh Orpheus.
Firstly. ‘An American Trilogy’. Click on this picture to hear the live recording:
Again the audience loved it. So clearly did Conductor Mark Burstow who beamed at the 400 men under his baton.
Finally, ‘Gwahoddiad’. Another male voice choir staple. There had been some disquiet about the language it would be sung in. Many choirs, including the Leigh Orpheus, sing it in Welsh, but the Bournemouth MD wanted it sung in English. The boys behind us, from the City of Newport Male Choir (some of whom we knew as we’ve sung with them in another choir in which they are involved) weren’t happy and were determined to sing it in Welsh. What to do?! Some of the Leigh Orpheus members showed solidarity with our Welsh brothers by singing ‘Gwahoddiad’ in Welsh, others used their crib sheets to sing it in English. Click on the picture below to experience this exquisite piece. See if you can detect the Welsh intermingled with the English. Male voice choirs like some ‘Amens’ at the end of pieces. Check out conductor Mark Burstow holding that last ‘Amen’ to the very end.
After the concert so much positive feedback and lots of lovely comments from our own supporters and from other audience members including:
“We had a wonderful night listening to all your amazing voices…………The Welsh hymn you sang at the end is now my favourite! Just beautiful!!”
“We always enjoy hearing the Leigh Orpheus sing, and hearing them sing many of the pieces we regard as their own, within a massed choir of over 400 men, was a pure delight.”
Super comments too from other choirs, with invitations from two of them for us to sing with them in future. We’ll certainly be pursuing those opportunities.
A fabulous night and, hopefully, a large amount of money raised for the charity the concert was supporting, The Bournemouth Hospital Charity.
Sincere thanks to the Bourneouth Male Voice Choir, their MD Mark Burstow and Mike Weaver who we liaised with in preparation, for an expertly-arranged day.