“Live at Last” was the title of May’s concert put on by Shipston Music Society. And the relief felt by singers and audience alike to be back together enjoying live music was palpable.

This year’s Royal Jubilee was in evidence in the line up of songs presented by Leamington Choir, Divertimento at the Music Society’s concert in May.

But the evening started - and the audience immediately engaged and gripped when they were invited to join in a real tongue-twister with All I Want is a Proper Cup of Coffee. Tongues were duly twisted and then the choir began their evening.

First of all, Java Jive, a song which continued the coffee theme and made popular by Manhattan Transfer. We were then treated to two songs based on late 19th century vesper hymns, Ave Maris Stella by Grieg and Beati Quorum Via by Stanford.

The Platinum Jubilee was celebrated in a number of pieces reflecting Queen and Commonwealth, starting with O Taste and See composed by Vaughan Williams for the Coronation in 1953. This was followed by a version of The Lord is my Shepherd arranged by Howard Goodall for the Vicar of Dibley, a favourite television programme of Her Majesty. Then we were treated to Ubi Caritas which was dedicated to the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge on their wedding day, followed by O-Re-Mi, a Nigerian highlife song (“Come on, let’s dance!)

With the ladies dressed in colourful jackets – red, green and purple, and the gentlemen in smart suits, Divertimento presented a sense of real togetherness which was reflected in the high standard of their singing. Goodness knows how much rehearsing went into such pieces as the folk song from Finland, Sakkijarven Polkka, which brought out chattering voices, loud and soft, and appearing at times like a Mexican wave. And then Sleep by Whiteacre which was eerie and mysterious. So difficult to convey this in song and yet so easy for the audience to enjoy and quietly absorb.

Transformational songs, The Lion Sleeps Tonight (Zulu trad.song) and I’m a Train (La Chaine), and humour from Cole Porter’s Tale of the Oyster, completed an evening of variety and pleasure.

Divertimento is a group of singers from Leamington Spa and this was their second visit to us in Shipston. It was high quality entertainment, and a real treat. Yes - Live at Last!

Warwickshire County Boys Choir is an accomplished group which brings together enthusiastic boy singers between the ages of c. 8 to 14 to perform and experience a wide range of repertoire, demonstrating the unique vocal quality of boys’ voices. In their short existence they have achieved many awards and have performed on the international stage. This is quite remarkable as the boys rehearse weekly only coming together for major concerts.

The Choir had previously performed for the Music Society in September 2012 and was given a warm welcome back by members and friends of the Society. In all twenty four boys, with an average age of 10.5 years, travelling from afar afield as Rugby and Bedworth kept the audience entertained with delightful singing, sometimes with choreographed actions and with the odd bit of humour, showing  a great deal of warmth and friendliness between choristers and their choirmaster.

The evenings programme was very varied including American spirituals, sea shanties, gospels as well as traditional folk songs accompanied by Julien Grimshaw who is both pianist and tutor to the choir. During the evening a solo performance was given by chorister Daniel Wale who having achieved his grade V on the violin gave a very accomplished performance of Oskar Reiding’s – Pastorale Op23  no1.

Talking to Garry Jones the music director during the interval he expressed some disappointment that no local boys from this area are in the choir and would encourage more to join and experience singing in such an accomplished choir. He made it very clear that any boys whatever their singing ability are accepted. All they need is the desire to sing! Details can be found on their web site www.choristers.org.

Chairman Richard Baldwin closed the evening with a vote of thanks to Garry Jones, Julien Grimshaw and the especially the boys in the choir for a most enjoyable and entertaining evening.

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