Review: Solent MVC at St George’s Church, Portsea

On a fine and sunny June 9th evening the Solent Male Voice Choir led by musical director Geoff Porter and accompanied by Nigel Smith at the piano gave us a concert of joyful music.

A modest audience at St George’s Church, Portsea were well entertained by male voice choir classics with a few less familiar items as well.

The choir opened with Why We Sing by Greg Gilpin a popular piece for all types of choirs and from the USA. It makes an opening statement which came across well in the enthusiasm and harmonies of the choir.

Although the choir sang from music, which is unusual for a male voice choir, they sang with heads up and followed the MD well. Only once or twice in the concert were some sections of the choir out of time with the MD or other sections.

Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah lacked conviction and it was here it seemed that some of the choir were unsure of the notation. On the other hand, The Song of the Jolly Roger, which ended the first half, had great conviction, dynamics and good diction. You were left thinking that pirates had come over from the Isle of Wight!

Augmenting the concert were two young singers, Lucy Jones (soprano) and Henry Darlison (counter-tenor). They were exceptional in their singing. Their programme was a varied mixture of baroque, classical and folk music. They dueted Wild Mountain Thyme and sang with delicacy and balance; also Offenbach’s Barcarolle which was a delight. Lucy sang If I were the Only Girl in the World and the audience and the choir were invited to join in the final chorus. Henry’s solo piece was the Largo from Handel’s Xerxes, Ombra mai fu which showed off his counter-tenor range.

The final pieces by the choir were a jolly piratical song from Walt Disney’s 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea. A Whale of a Tale and then An American Trilogy which came over well but there was some imbalance in the sections; more basses are needed. However, Morte Criste, with two retired choir members from the audience joining the choir, was sung with sensitivity. Unfortunately St. George’s has no organ but Nigel Smith made a great job of accompanying on the piano.

If you were a fan of male voice choirs this concert would have left you feeling happy and content as it was a programme of male voice favourites sung by a strong choir who could, perhaps, do with a few more voices.

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