In the true spirit of G&S



NEWBURY Choral Society should be congratulated on an excellent evening all round. The choir looked good – the ladies in black with coloured scarves and the men in DJs with coloured bow ties. Their entry was tidy, thoughtfully worked out and professionally executed.

A whole evening of Gilbert and Sullivan is no easy option. The music may contain easily remembered melodies and not too taxing supporting harmonic structures and modulations, but there are other problems to deal with – crisp and tidy interjections when singing alongside a soloist, absolute rhythmic precision in chorus work and passages in thirds and sixths which require pure intonation. The choir did not find any of these problematical – they had been very well rehearsed by their conductor Cathal Garvey and enjoyed what they were doing. Several other aspects of choral singing were evident, including quick ‘pick-ups’, knowledge of the score and attentiveness to the conductor.



Newbury Choral Society, at St Nicolas Church, on Saturday, June 20

The concert comprised a short selection from Trial by Jury, HMS Pinafore, The Mikado, The Pirates of Penzance, The Yeomen of the Guard and The Gondoliers.

After a clear and enthusiastic introduction by narrator Don Crerar, the choir set off with a full-bodied start and excellent ensemble. Diction was clear most of the time and the mood was appropriately set for the different operas, aided by hats and props sported by the soloists. The male chorus in HMS Pinafore was admirable, well balanced and in good tune. It was a pity that the Covent Garden Chamber Orchestra was rather overpowering on some occasions in this item, particularly as they were a band of very good individual players. Overall, their input into the evening was very satisfying and appropriate.



The soloists were all happy in their roles. Soprano Charlotte Baptie had a clear, light, clean voice, with a remarkable quality in the very high range. She acted her parts tastefully, never overdoing the coquettishness often required in G&S and always putting her vocal requirements first. Her performance of Yum-Yum’s The Sun whose Rays are all Ablaze was as good as one is likely to hear.

Baritone Stephen Godward had an even, light voice and was always sensitive to the libretto and mood. His Little List was taken at a sensible tempo so the audience did not miss one word of the very topical and extremely funny contemporary jokes. Tenor Nick Sales had a resonant voice, with a well-supported upper range and Take a Pair of Sparkling Eyes was excellently performed, with taste and pure clarity.

This was a thoroughly happy evening, with good singing and good spirit.


Reproduced with the kind permission of Newbury Weekly News