Almost 15 years ago I went to Hepworth Village Hall to watch Dave sing in his first concert with New Mill Male Voice Choir. I did not know what to expect but since becoming a member he had talked of little else. I can remember being pleasantly surprised by the quality of the singing that filled the tiny hall but it was the choir’s enthusiasm and camaraderie was most noticeable. How quickly the years have passed and now you are celebrating your 15th Anniversary.
Gwahoddiad was the first song ever sung by the choir in public and as such was a fitting beginning to the wonderful evening’s entertainment followed by another favourite Myfanwy. Then the beautiful unaccompanied love song True Love you learned for the holiday in the Czech Republic. These were my favourites in what was a splendid first half of classical male voice pieces reflecting the choir’s history.
Harry Gration, who was applauded in and “clapped out” (as he put it) – in his inimitable way, introduced Hade Edge Band and their Musical Director Simon Wood. Rhapsody in Blue by Gershwin has always been a great favourite of mine and was superbly played by brass instruments. Harry, who had been tapping his feet, conducting with a pencil and playing imaginary instruments described them as “sensational “ and I agreed – although I was near the back of the Town Hall. I don’t know how those on stage managed without ear defenders. Such a big sound from such a young band, some of whom could barely see over the music stands. He reminded us of the jokes he told at the Tsunami Concert and this time I understood all of them!
The next guests, Vocal Expressions, are celebrating their 10th anniversary this year. Their uniforms looked very well on stage with the men, like heather on the moors. Beginning with a rousing song Viva Musica, they sang sweetly with confidence and competence and ended the first half with some beautiful harmonies in You raise me up which was obviously very moving for everyone. After the interval they opened with the exciting Gypsy Song from Carmen and followed with a haunting melody sung in Ukrainian. They concluded their polished performance with a carefully choreographed Chattanooga Choo Choo.
The Band continued in their robust style with favourites such as Punchinello and once again testing our ears with Thine be the Glory.
The men seemed to relax more in the second half and opened with American Trilogy. Only Elvis could have done better. Shortnin’ Bread followed and some of the men almost managed a smile whilst they clicked their fingers to the beat. Anne’s beautiful arrangement of The Way You Look Tonight was sung with great passion and everyone enjoyed Bui Doi. However, take care that Dave Marshall isn’t head hunted by the West End – he was fantastic.
This part of the programme by the men was superb – the best this “Groupie” has heard. Your dynamics were brilliant, phrasing amazing and when you sang in sections sang “as one”. You certainly showed us how you have developed and did yourselves proud. The years have not dampened your enthusiasm but your singing has certainly improved and gone from strength to strength particularly under the ever inspiring leadership of Elizabeth and the superb skills of Anne on the piano.