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Review: The 49th annual Alcester Male Voice Choir concert with Alcester Victoria Silver Band played to a sell-out audience at the Greig Leisure Centre, Alcester on Saturday, 22nd April

Alcester must have surely had the best two-for-one music deal at the 49th annual Alcester Male Voice Choir (AMVC) concert at the Greig Leisure Centre on Saturday, 22nd April.

Not only did a sell-out audience get the fine voices of 59 tenors and basses, conducted by choir founder and director of music, Judith Land BEM, but they were also treated to the sterling sound Alcester Victoria Silver Band, now in its 126th year of making music.

Where to begin? What comprised an evening of many highlights in the presence of AMVC’s vice-president, Lady Louise, dowager Marchioness of Hertford and other guests of honour, got off on the right theme with Rogers and Hammerstein’s It’s a Grand Night for Singing.

The 49th Alcester Male Voice Choir concert on Saturday, 22nd April at the Greig Leisure Centre, Alcester.
The 49th Alcester Male Voice Choir concert on Saturday, 22nd April at the Greig Leisure Centre, Alcester.

The silver band conducted by musical director Nick Smith had everyone’s foot tapping along with Jeff Lynne’s Mr Blue Sky but came into its own with a stunning rendition of The Watermill by British 20th century composer Ronald Binge, which readers of a certain age will recognise as the theme tune of the 1970’s delightful BBC children’s television series The Secret Garden. The oboe solo swapped for the talented Ian Rochester on cornet. (Night time Radio 4 listeners might also be interested to note that Binge wrote Sailing By, which trails the late-night shipping forecast.)

At the end of the first half, the programme noticeably shifted tone when guest soprano Cressida Dolphin - who has performed with Opera North and Welsh National Opera – gave a moving rendition of Puccini’s aria O Mio Babbino Caro. To finish off the audience was invited to participate in a medley of Al Jolson classics including Carolina in the Morning (which instantly took this reviewer back to her 5-year-old self and singing this jolly ditty at the behest of her father who acompanied on piano).

Choir highlights in the second half were Can You Hear Me, by Edward Rhys Harry and Every Time I Feel the Spirit by Derek Jones, signed in British Sing Language by special guests Glynis Myle and Mags Raxworthy. Each piece dexterously accompanied by classically trained Georgian native Irina Chagunava on the keyboard.

The band offered up two rousing film score classics, one from the 1964 war film 633 Squadron by Ron Goodwin and the American superhero film theme tune to Masters of the Universe. Both big brass sounds considerably enhanced by the sports hall acoustics.

The evening was ably compared by town crier David Parkes, who also gave the audience a sneak preview of the official cry that will be proclaiming on 6th May in respect to King Charles and the Queen consort’s coronation by every crier in the land.

It ended on a majestic note with the banding playing Walton’s Crown Imperial, an orchestral march commissioned for the coronation of King George VI, before the audience was asked to stand to sing the National Anthem.

Save the date: Special anniversary concerts celebrating 50 years of Alcester Male Voice Choir will be held at Ragley Hall on the weekend of 20th and 21st April 2024

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