Review: Tamesis Chamber Choir Music for the OlympicsBy Heidi Cherry
July 12, 2012
The final concert in Tamesis’ Historic Times season sounded like a challenge to plan.
A Time to Perform referred to the upcoming London 2012 Olympic Games and it was hard to imagine how a whole evening could be filled with music on that theme.
But musical director Louise Rapple stepped up to the challenge and came up with a lively and diverse programme, fusing old favourites with topical new works.
Taking London itself as a theme, Tamesis gave us playful medleys from Sweeney Todd and Oliver! that had the audience tapping their toes.
The choir also reprised Raymond Yiu’s 2011 commission The Timeless Way of Cities, premiered by Tamesis last year. It’s a challenging piece to sing, with many different melodies and motifs coming together, but the choir pulled it off with aplomb.
On a more directly Olympian theme, and possibly my favourite piece of the evening, the singers performed The Exercise of Music, the first movement of Paul Ayres’ Loughborough Cantata.
The work won a competition challenging composers to write a piece celebrating the 2012 Olympics and features witty and energetic leaps reflecting the running and jumping we will see in the Games.
Ayres’ composition is full of contrasts and uses the 17th century words of Henry Peacham’s The Compleat Gentleman, to amusing effect. To quote the composer himself, the choir performed with “a wonderfully clear and energetic sound”, complimented by beautiful solos by Simon Eastwood and Cathy Al Ghabra.
Military Wives supremo Gareth Malone popped up on the programme, with his Sing London! medley, celebrating the upcoming Games. The simple medley entwines folk songs and pop, from Waterloo Sunset to London Bridge Is Falling Down.
Louise Rapple adapted the scoring to use her choir to full contrasting effect.
It was also a great pleasure to hear Bob Chilcott’s Songs and Cries of London Town, as a finale.
The five movement cantata contrasts lyrical sections about London with street cries and the London bells.
Tamesis sang with expression and accuracy, their enjoyment of the lively street market scenes eloquently conveyed to the audience.
The choir’s accompanist Judith Creighton was joined by Patsy Moore in a piano duet accompaniment, played with a flourish, which added to the excitement.
Soloists Cathy Al Ghabra and Tanya Pratt also deserve a mention for their polished renditions of Madeline Dring’s Business Girls and Just you wait Henry Higgins, from My Fair Lady.
The audience particularly loved Tanya’s highly communicative performance, playing out Eliza Doolittle’s fury and glee as she sang.
Tamesis is now looking forward to the launch of its Remembrance CD in October 2012.
- Tamesis performed Music for the Olympic Games on Saturday, June 23, at St Laurence’s Church in Reading. For more information about the choir visit www.tamesischamberchoir.co.uk.