A packed West Kirk was the setting for the ladies of the In Harmonyc hoir to deliver their annual concert on Friday.
The evening began with a selection from the world of musical theatre and films, opening with a solid performance of ‘Seasons of Love’ from Rent featuring a short solo passage by Pamela Brewster.
The song asks what is the best way to measure the passage of a year and the answer is, of course, in love. The theme of undying love was further built upon with the choir’s rendition of ‘Bring Him Home’ from Les Miserables, which was performed with a growing confidence as the ladies relaxed into the evening’s programme.
From revolutionary France to the plains of Africa for ‘We Are One’ from The Lion King II – Simba’s Pride followed next, before the first set was wrapped up in a gentle minor groove with the beautifully sung ‘Hushabye Mountain’ from the film and stage musical Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.
The first of several guest spots followed. This year’s guests were all students of Vicki White and they would all, throughout the course of the evening, demonstrate the amazing talent and abilities of our area’s young people. Zoe Heggie sang ‘A Change In Me’, a beautiful tune from Beauty and the Beast, composed by Tim Rice and Alan Menken. Megan Vasey then charmed the audience with ‘Naughty’ from the award winning Matilda the Musical based on the Roald Dahl story.
The choir returned to centre stage with a selection of spirituals, which are always popular with choirs and audiences alike and this was no exception. A great performance of ‘Rejoice and Sing!’ opened the trio of tunes and this ushered in a solid retention of the gospel classic, ‘The Storm is Passing Over’ which featured a short solo passage by Audrey Duncan. This piece contained some difficult timing on the Alleluia choruses for the choir. A trip to the Caribbean next with ‘Jamaica Farewell’ a traditional composition popularised by Harry Belafonte on his ‘Calypso’ album of 1956, which was lovingly sung by the ladies of In Harmony.
The first half of the concert was rounded off by another special guest spot which introduced Nicole Vasey who sang ‘I Feel Pretty’ from the ground-breaking musical West Side Story. Zoe returned for her second appearance of the night with a tune, which this reviewer believes is hugely undervalued, ‘Till There Was You’ from the 1957 musical play, The Music Man by Meredith Willson. It was a lovely retention by Zoe. Vicki White accompanied Zoe, Megan and Nicole.
The second half of the concert opened with some outstanding classical guitar playing by the Caitlin Nelson, the evening’s fourth and final guest artiste. Firstly, the audience was enthralled by the beauty of ‘El Negrito’ by Venezuelan composer Antonio Lauro and secondly, we were given the premier of an as yet untitled, but rather attractive composition by Caitlin. It was revealed that this was her first public performance and that she had only been playing classical guitar for less than a year – quite outstanding.
It was again time for the choir to sing and they opened their next selection with the upbeat tempo of ‘Hey, Look Me Over’ by Cy Coleman and Carolyn Leigh from the show Wildcat. The song was originally sung by Lucille Ball and the ladies of In Harmony had a ball with it. ‘A Song of the Open Road’ followed, an attractive piece adapted from the poetry of American Walt Whitman and this turned in a good solid performance from the choir.
A moment of reflection featured Darla Eshelman’s ‘A Song from the Heart’ which praised the power of heartfelt friendship; something which was very much in evidence throughout the evening’s fine entertainment by In Harmony.
Choir guest, Megan returned to tempt us with ‘My Favourite Things’ from Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Sound of Music, before Nicole enjoyably took us back to the year 1926 with George and Ira Gershwin’s ‘Someone to Watch Over Me’ from the show Oh, Kay!
From the era of flappers to the decade of flapping flares and platform shoes as the ladies of In Harmony boogied on down into a great collection of Abba tunes, featuring, ‘Mamma Mia’, ‘Super Trouper’, ‘Money, Money, Money’ and ‘Dancing Queen’. There is no doubt that the music and performances of Agnetha, Benny, Bjorn and Anni-Frid are some of the best in pop music history and this reviewer is happy to report that In Harmony did not disappoint with their retentions of these classic 1970s hits – the ladies were clearly enjoying themselves and turned in some of the best singing of the whole evening.
With the final rays of daylight filtering through the stained glass windows of the West Kirk, the pure and clear voice of Nicole Vasey soared around the church to the beautiful strains of ‘Pie Jesu’.
A special mention should be made of the excellent Alison Hart who acted as an outstanding accompanist throughout the evening. Vicki White was musical director.
A lovely evening had flown by and it was time for the choir’s finale, which began with the upbeat ‘Where You Lead’ with some nice modulation and a short solo by Lesley Maguire, before all the special guests joined the choir to sing the plaintive and reflective ballad by Bob Chilcott, ‘I Lift My Eyes’.
A comprehensive vote of thanks by Joan MacGregor followed, before the choir raised the rafters with a great retention of ‘Get Up And Sing’, bringing to a close another highly successful annual concert by In Harmony.
Dr Richard J. Irvine