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Concert Review II: ‘The Power of Music’ Spring Concert 2024

Christ Church Selly Park Saturday 20th April 2024

Poster advertising the power of a music concert 2024

Having woken up incredibly early on Saturday 20th April for a very important haircut, I needed something other than caffeine (mum says I shouldn’t drink it past three) to wake me up, and Selly Park Singers delivered! Following a humorous introduction from Director Paul Carr, who informed us with great clarity on the locations of the fire exit and toilets, but more importantly on composer Dennis Pim, who’s eclectic compositions and arrangements would feature heavily in the following concert.

We were introduced to Pim’s compositional excellence with the eponymous Power of Music, which was written in 1998 for a commission for the Open University Choir’s 25th anniversary. Having demonstrated an assortment of high and low notes, and a huge range of tempos, the singers moved on to a touching setting of the famous poem Remember, written by Christina Rossetti. The setting, composed by Pim in 2021, held a special place in my heart, the poem being a favourite of my late grandparents and therefore my mother’s.

We took a small break from Pim in the following section, ‘From the Bavarian Highlands,’ that exhibited the wistful music of celebrated musician Edward Elgar written following his holidays in Bavaria in the 1890s. The singers kicked off their second segment with The Dance, its upbeat tempo and leaping melodies making it a highlight of the concert. False Love exhibited Paul Carr’s directional talents once more as the three choral sections mimicked the tale of a love triangle, and the wistful, drifting melodies simulated the alpine scenery of which the song was set.Dick Price deserves special recognition for his skills in piano that accompanied the choir throughout the concert, but specifically his beautiful introductory melody in Lullaby.

Following Elgar’s section, we were treated by a three-song performance from The Sandy Band, an offshoot of the Selly Park Singers composed of guitarist and vocalist Sandy Cresswell and Bob Walker on the bass, flute and guitar. The performance broke up the more traditional set of the choir nicely, and their concluding performance of Country Roads by John Denver had the audience and choir singing along!

The fourth part of the set revisited the work of Pim as it featured three pieces originally designed by the arranger to feature at weddings. The section began with the famously romantic All I Ask of You from The Phantom of the Opera. John Denver proved popular as his work featured once more, and the key change in Annie’s Song stuck out as a key moment within the entire concert. SPS concluded their fourth section with We’ve Only Just Begun, designed by Roger Nichols and Paul Williams from an original arrangement by Richard Carpenter. The bell like rhythm and resilient and inspiring nature of the choir’s harmonies resulted in the song being another favourite of mine.

Lynn Davies was provided the opportunity to demonstrate her skills in jazz piano in the penultimate section of the concert, taking centre stage in a solo display of three contrasting pieces from the Oscar Peterson Highlights Jazz Piano collection. Davies proved commendable resilience and determination as she executed the challenging pieces, receiving a noteworthy round of applause from a very impressed audience!

The Selly Park Singers finished their set with two final pieces arranged by Dennis Pim beginning with The Farmer’s Boy, a traditional 19th-century ballad. The concert was concluded with what Carr disclaimed as the ‘most challenging’ piece, a traditional twelve-verse English folksong that can be likened structurally to songs like The Twelve Days of Christmas. It seemed that no disclaimer was necessary however, as Paul and the choir executed the repetitive structure littered with an assortment of keys and tempos with no hitch whatsoever, finishing the set with a bang!

Maddie Langham-Walsh