On a suitably sultry evening, The New Theatre Royal, with twinkling stars behind the singers, was host to American music of both church and theatre genres. The Portsmouth Choral Union was challenged by their Musical Director, David Gostick in an imaginative programme.
Together with tenor, Anthony Flaum, The Prebendal School Chamber Choir, Chichester, Andrew Cleary and Ian Richardson, keyboards and three percussionists from Southern Pro Musica, excerpts were presented from Bernstein’s Mass, Misa Criolla by Ramirez and the Choral Suite from West Side Story.
The choir coped with the rhythms and harmonies of the music with concentrated determination and the children, with their soloist, added another dimension to the sound.
It was difficult to follow the translations in the Programme Notes due to the low level of house lights and we could have done without the canned music before and after the concert and during the interval.
The tenor soloist was outstanding, coping with the high tessitura, especially in Bernstein’s setting of The Lord’s Prayer and the skilled percussionists contributed greatly to the flavour of the music.
The ladies changed into ‘something more comfortable’ for the second half which suddenly came alive in The West Side Story extracts. The choir produced a lovely well-blended sound, carefully controlled at the conclusion of One Hand, One Heart.
The ladies seemed relaxed and enjoyed singing I Feel Pretty and the men judged Boy, crazy boy well, building to a rousing climax. I Like to be in America went with a swing and both soloist and choir combined in the moving conclusion to the evening. The audience left the theatre humming the memorable tunes from West Side Story.