Concert Review

FYC have The X Factor

FYC Arena Outside.png

On 1st December 2018, Farnham Youth Choir took to the stage at one of the biggest live televised events of the year as part of the Live Final of ITV’s ‘The X Factor’ at Wembley Arena.

Forty choir members sang alongside finalist Scarlett Lee as she performed Sir Elton John’s Your Song, also featured in this year’s John Lewis Christmas advert and popularised by Ewan McGregor in the Baz Luhrmann film, Moulin Rouge.

FYC on stage with Scarlett Lee at Wembley Arena

FYC on stage with Scarlett Lee at Wembley Arena

With only 24 hours’ notice, FYC’s senior choir raced to join forces with Thames TV, recording a full studio version of the performance at Metropolis Studios, Chiswick. The following day, Saturday 1st December, the choir piled on to a coach for Wembley Arena, rehearsing during the day and singing in the live final at 7.30pm.

Performing as part of the first hour-long series finale, FYC shared the billing with the contestants, series judge Robbie Williams, global superstar George Ezra, Emile Sande and former X Factor winner Leona Lewis. Despite the watchful gaze of the series judges and music business supremo Simon Cowell, the choir’s performance lit up the arena.

Choir member Elliott Keys (11) who only joined the choir this year, said, ‘this is such a surreal experience, standing on the X-factor stage was breath-taking.

For nearly 40 years Farnham Youth Choir have performed at the highest levels of choral excellence, singing at both The Vatican and Notre Dame in the past two years. FYC will be entering the Grand Prix of Nations & European Choir Games in Gothenburg in August 2019.


Singing Together: A joint concert with FYC Junior Choirs and Taplow Children's Choirs

Photographer: Jeremy Smith

Photographer: Jeremy Smith

On Saturday 25th March, both FYC Junior Choirs and the Training Choir joined with Taplow Children’s Choir to provide a wonderful evening of singing at St Andrews Church.

The choirs first came together last year when FYC Junior Boys and Girls choirs travelled to Taplow and this time the invitation was returned and family and friends of all choirs packed the Church.

The repertoire was the usual mix of styles that we have come to expect from FYC concerts including traditional folk songs from across the globe and gave each choir the chance to sing alone and to showcase their joint pieces.

The concert started with a first outing of their rendition of Cantate Domino by the FYC Boys and Girls Junior Choirs followed by a trilogy of Benjamin Britten songs.

Then the Girls choir sang three accomplished pieces -Bon Di and I Dance to the Stars and the Moon around their debut performance of The Bird’s Lament by Richard Rodney Bennett.

Rugby followed and was the humorous offering from the Junior Boys with actions to match, followed by Hine Ma Tov to which there was notable toe tapping from the audience!

We were then treated to all choirs coming together - after a magnificent feat of stage management to get everyone in place.  Two rousing pieces filled the church with over 100 voices perfectly in time and you would not have guessed that they had only had a few hours’ rehearsal together - a tribute to the work of the conductors as well as the singers.  The choirs began with Kusimara by Jim Papulis- with enthusiastic drum accompaniment from the Taplow Conductor Lucy Joy Morris -followed by the moving Hashivenu - an Israeli folk song.

FYC trainers clearly enjoyed their chance to perform in front of family and friends.  They sang and marched through The Zulu Warrior, and their ecological version of 10 Green Bottles was not quite the one we may have remembered from childhood car journeys but all the better for its modern twist.  Add to these a Canadian song - the Land of the Silver Birch -and The Lighthouse and their quartet of songs were complete.  The smiles said it all!

Taplow Children’s Choir then took to the stage to provide a lively set of four songs.  The uplifting Marvellous Song was followed by Ken Johnston’s The Wind that Shakes the Barley.  We were then treated to a well-choreographed duet of songs - Bye Bye Robin and Engine Engine - arranged by FYC’s Jo McNally.

The evening was finished by bringing everyone back together again to sign the Ghanaian playground song Sansa Kroma, that was a fitting end to a delightful evening that more than lived up to its name of Singing Together.  We were treated to a high standard of choral singing by two talented and dedicated choir families.

Reviewer: Lynn Marlow

Spring Concert

Photographer: Jeremy Smith

Photographer: Jeremy Smith

Farnham Youth Choir returned to St Lawrence Church in Alton for this year’s Spring Concert on Saturday 11th March.  They were welcomed by a full and most appreciative audience who enjoyed a varied programme showcasing the choir’s customary high standards.

The first half comprised mainly sacred music, including a number of pieces familiar to the choir’s repertoire but introducing items from Pergolesi’s Stabat Mater and Tota Pulchra Es from Durufle’s Four Motets.  Charming solos from Annia Grey and Jessica Miller featured, and the half ended with taste of what was to come with choir favourite Yo Le Canto.

After the interval the audience was entertained by a largely secular programme, opening with the striking De Bello Gallico in which the choir showed their ability to add the emphasis of actions to the music and words.  Another new piece to the repertoire was introduced, the lovely The Seal Lullaby by Eric Whitacre, and solos were impressively performed by Holly Giles and Isobel Cole.

The concert closed with two of the more contemporary songs that have been introduced, Bob Dylan’s Make You Feel My Love, and finally Upside Down by Paloma Faith which featured lively choreography to close the evening on a high noted. 

The many new members who joined this year have integrated seamlessly with the choir under Musical Director Joanna Tomlinson, with the expert support of accompanist Matthew Rickard, and all are now looking forward to the forthcoming choir tour to France.

Reviewer: Stuart Brown

Something Old, Something New

13 (enhanced).jpg

 Farnham Youth Choir’s first concert of the new season was held at the lovely church of St Alban’s in Hindhead on Sat 15th Oct in front of a full and appreciative audience! This was a new venue for the choir which performs more frequently in Farnham.

The evening began with choir members coming out to the audience members and greeting them, before starting a "Festive Alleluia" in an almost flash-mob style. Once regular choir positions had been resumed, we were treated to sacred music from 16th century up to 20th century, as well as pieces involving choir actions such as clapping in a Spanish style for "Yo Le Canto" and looking fearsome and warlike for "De Bello Gallico".

The choir was performing for the first time under the direction of Joanna Tomlinson who began regular rehearsals with them only 7 weeks ago. It also welcomed a new pianist, Matthew Rickard, who was given particular opportunities to shine in his accompaniments for Holst’s piece “To Agni” and the Spiritual, “Joshua”.

Many of the pieces performed during the evening were familiar works sung in previous years, but the audience were also treated to new pieces learned only in the past few weeks. The 14 new members who joined the choir in September performed confidently, having learned and memorised their parts in such a short period of time.

Another new feature of the concert was the inclusion of some more contemporary songs, including “Make You Feel My Love” by the recently announced Nobel Laureate for literature, Bob Dylan. The audience were sent on their way home with a lively rendition of the song “Happy”- appropriate for conveying the feelings of choir and audience alike, after this first outing of the season!

Laura Brown, director of The Octavian Singers.