The theme of this year’s concert from the Stranraer and District Ladies Choir on Friday was 1Around the world……and all that Jazz’, and Jane Sloan reviews the enjoyable evening.
“It was obvious from the outset that this 25-strong choir under new musical director Nicki Junor was out to enjoy the journey just as much as their audience.
We began in Scotland with Ken Johnston’s arrangements of ‘The Piper o’ Dundee’ and the ‘Skye Boat Song’ followed by ‘The Deil’s Awa’ where the traditional tune ‘The Hemp Dresser’ had been given a catchy and innovative new arrangement by Mitchell Shaw. Mitchell, having laid down his conductor’s baton, was accompanist for the evening, a role much appreciated by conductor, choir and audience alike.
“Three unaccompanied Hungarian folk songs followed where the choir’s attention to diction and their precision of pitch clearly and colourfully told the stories of the Handsome Butcher, the Miller’s Daughter and the Old Woman.
Ireland was the next destination giving us the opportunity to hear the beautiful ‘Down by the Sally Gardens’, ‘I know where I’m Goin’ and the ‘Londonderry Air’.
The choir’s guest soloist, flautist Rebekah Donn, then visited France with her stunning playing of Cecile Chaminade’s ‘Concertino Op 107’. Rebekah, a second year music student from Newton Stewart is obviously going to go far in her musical career. She played this difficult piece brilliantly and with such sensitivity that it was totally enchanting.
“The trip – and the first part of the programme – culminated in a visit to Latin America. The Bossa Nova rhythm of ‘The Girl From Ipanema’ gave the second sopranos a rare chance to shine and The Argentinian Tango style of ‘La Cumparsita’ by Rodriquez sent choir and audience off to the interval on a high note.
The second part of the programme saw us in Jazz mode with Kirkby Shaw’s cheeky arrangement of ‘And All That Jazz’ followed by his equally beautiful harmonies in the haunting ‘Cry Me a River’.
“The choir’s immaculate attention to diction was again apparent in ‘It Don’t Mean a Thing’ and ‘Mary Had a Little Blues’.
Rebekah, accompanied beautifully once again by Nicki Junor, then treated us to a jazzy style flute solo arrangement of ‘Aria and Waltz’ from Suite Antique by Clifford Bevan.
The choir resumed with Harold Arlen’s ‘Stormy Weather’, suitably enriched with the solo singing of Rania Savvidi and ‘The Sunny Side of the Street’.
Six of Gershwin’s best loved songs combined to make a most memorable ‘Gershwin Medley’ and the concert was rounded off in style with ‘The Rhythm of Life’ from the show ‘Sweet Charity’. Nicki and the choir produced exciting, articulate singing whilst Kathryn Arthington (who had acted a page turner all evening) joined Mitchell in a brilliant duet accompaniment.
All in all this was a very special musical treat and we must look forward with eager anticipation to what Stranraer and District Ladies Choir might treat us to next!”