It was a beautiful Summer’s evening for an equally fabulous concert featuring all three FYC Choirs, the Trainers, the Juniors and the Youth choir who are starting their journey towards the World Choir Games in 2020.
Directed by the wonderful Jo Tomlinson, the Youth Choir opened the concert and their first set of sacred music with two FYC favourites: the dramatic Joshua and the contrasting sweet sounding Lift thine Eyes. Then we moved into two pieces by the French composers Faure and Poulenc, giving the Youth Choir the chance to show off their linguistic prowess and their vocal control, right to the very last note of Poulenc’s Ave Verum Corpus. The set drew to a close with the still waters and beautiful melody of Todd’s The Lord is My Shepherd and ended with the wonderful harmonies of Steal Away.
The audience then welcomed the young training choir, led brilliantly by Lucy Morris, onto the stage looking and sounding angelic. They sang four pieces, all contrasting and wonderfully sung. Kenny the Kangaroo was full of the required energy and “boing” and won the prize for best ending pose. In the Training Choir’s finale, Lemonade, the children brought the movement and lyrics together to great effect. What a complicated ending with multiple parts and movement. Wow!
The combined voices of the Trainers and juniors combined forces to tell us all Why we sing – a wonderful reminder of why singing is so fantastic whatever your age.
This Gala concert significantly marked the retirement of FYC Chairman Graham Noakes who has given his full commitment to FYC over the last decade. He has steered the choirs through a period of extraordinary change and under his stewardship FYC has become an exemplar for other youth choirs. Graham was presented with a fabulous framed Platinum FYC vinyl disc to say thank you for all he and the Noakes family have contributed to FYC.
Next it was the turn of the Junior Choir who have flourished under the leadership of Patrick Barrett. The energy that these youngsters have on stage is infectious and was very palpable in their opener Feel Good. They lowered the tempo with Child of Peace, their expressive faces showing how strongly they believed in the words they were singing: “Let us be children of peace, bringing light and love instead of darkness and hate”. This contrasted with Britten’s modern and rather witchy sounding The Ride by Nights, which was breathtaking in its complexity and brevity. The Juniors finished with Bernyanyi Bersana by Jim Papoulis, a wonderful rhythmic piece accompanied at short notice by two youth choir members on bongos and descant.
In the final set the Farnham Youth Choir showed us just how versatile they are. They started with a new arrangement of Scarborough Fair by Michael Higgins for upper voices, this the first time it had been performed. It was extremely beautiful; The lilting melodies flowed and the words were crystal clear.
A stark contrast then followed with the Poison Tree – the piece’s dissonance and wrath were dramatically displayed by the choir. Sweet Georgia Brown had us all toe tapping, and the beauty of the Seal Lullaby came across so effortlessly. Two further FYC favourites, Yo Le Canto and Paloma Faith’s Upside Down demonstrated the perfect blend of effective choreography, tight harmonies and a well-rehearsed choir.
The grand finale – Juntos (meaning Stronger together), with its Latin American rhythms - was an uplifting and fitting conclusion to a wonderful concert that included so much young talent.
Review by Sara Acworth