Cantando Choir performs mixed programme

The Cantando Choir.

The Cantando Choir.

What: Choral and swing
Who: Cantando Choir with St Peter's Cathedral Children's Choir
When: 7.30pm, July 30
Where: Clarence Street Theatre
Works by: Bizet, Verdi, Cole Porter, Gershwin and others
Conductor: Iain Tetley
Soloist: Gina Sanders, soprano
Reviewer: Sam Edwards

What an interesting programme this was. Classical opera in the first half and moody 1930s swing pop in the second places quite unusual pressures on a choir. It demands huge shifts in tempo interpretation, oppositional changes of vocal colour and intonation, and an ability to switch between depth of idea and variation of mood without losing entertainment value. It also requires that sharing of confidence with the audience which energises any performance. On Saturday night, the audience was responsive and involved.

Conductor Iain Tetley worked a remarkable magic, reducing the choir's vocal intensity to produce some lovely understated singing, He had selected choral works which were within range, and he had the wisdom to allow the choir to sing, apparently, unplugged. With the best singing from the choir, even in the dry acoustic, one could hear separate parts in harmony, words with considerable clarity, and a depth in vocal combination which was a delight.

There were moments in Puccini's Humming Chorus that were simply beautiful. There were occasions when a lack of eye contact with Tetley produced fuzzy entries and unclear cut-offs. At times sections did not tune their collective ear and even melodic soprano lines were out of tune. And they need to work at understanding the purpose of the music. 

Begin the Beguine is nothng more than an exercise in making musical love. This critic was neither shaken nor stirred, nor excited, except for a moment in the middle section.

What is important, however, is that the choir showed just what it was capable of. Members can afford to be absolutely positive as they head for their next concert. Thank you, Mr Tetley. Thank you, too, for your exemplary solo rendition of that Handelian chart topper,  Where'ere You Walk - crisp, clear, and unerringly romantic. Few in the audience realised that they were listening to a song written nearly three centuries ago.  

It was complemented by a series of crowd-wowing solos from soprano Gina Sanders, who was as at home interpreting Mozart and Lehar as she was creating bold and entertaining versions of Gershwin or Cole Porter classics.

And then there was the St Peter's Cathedral Children's Choir. Led by two or three well experienced singers, who were only a few years older than the young six year olds on stage, the choir gave the adult sopranos a tonal and pitching rev-up and turned a very good rendition of Bizet's Toreadors into musical magic. What future promise lies with those voices.

Saturday night was a somewhat different Cantando Choir performance, and gave us a whole bunch of reasons for going to the next one.


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