‘Bowled over’ by choir performance

Hastings Philharmonic Choir- An American Journey, St Mary-in-the-Castle, Hastings. Saturday, June 22. Review by Carol Scoines.

What a fantastic concert at St Mary-in-the-Castle last Saturday! It was almost worth not being able to sing to experience it from the audience.

My guests and I were bowled over by the choir, the soloists and especially by Marcio da Silva, the conductor and, for this concert, a performer.

The programme was a real treat. In the first half we visited the USA, moving from the poignant harmonies of Shenendoah and Deep River, to Broadway.

On the way we were thrilled by Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue, played magnificently by Francis Raynor, the choir’s regular accompanist, and the haunting Summertime sung beautifully by Susannah Appleyard.

A little gospel music in between had the choir and audience swaying.

We loved the first half but the best was still to come in an exhilarating and very special second half, which transported us to Brazil.

It opened with two native Indian songs, including a novel challenge for the choir who reproduced the atmosphere of the rain forest through sounds and movement, with a little help from the audience, all led by the conductor.

The words of the song were delivered in the native language of the Kraos Indians.

Psalm 150, by the Brazilian composer Aguiar, has familiar Latin text but unfamiliar Latin American rhythm.

There followed songs more typical of the 20th Century Brazilian style in which Marcio showed us his musical origins as a highly accomplished singer, backed in Portuguese with true Latin American style by the choir.

The final chorus, Muie Rendera, written by the legendary bandit Lampiao, has a well-known tune, here arranged in five parts.

Its harmonies made for a rousing finale to a most imaginative programme, enthusiastically performed to a truly delighted audience.

Marcio took the stage finally for an intimate rendition of Brazil’s most famous song, The Girl from Ipanema softly accompanying himself on guitar. What a night!

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For more information on the choir visit www.hastingsphilchoir.org.uk.