It’s been a great week for choirs. First locally, we had St Margaret’s (Rosyth) church choir singing at Margaret’s licensing ceremony in Lochgelly. So good that even the bishop approved!
Then yesterday we joined lots of other ladies of a certain age in Hill Place for All the King’s Men – a wonderful a capella ten-man line-up that we’ve now seen three years running. Great moves, sassy sophisticated sound. Especially the one who did that tssh tssh tssh boo-boom thing. Who needs a drum kit? And the tap-dancing was fabulous.
Finally, we had the great joy of the National Youth Choir in St Cuthberts. Now I have to confess I’d never heard of the NYC, and thought they sounded a bit worthy. I was crisply corrected by my retired-Head-of-Music friend as we walked up Castle Terrace, and quite right she was too. They are fabulous and if they do a concert near you, you must go. They are directed by Ben Parry who has a massive international career but I’ll let you look him up yourself. One thing I’ll mention – he founded the Dunedin Consort, whom I heard at St Giles at the 2011 Fringe. They are small and perfectly formed.
The National Youth Choir on the other hand is huge – about eighty singers? Aged 16-22, they absolutely ooze charisma. For as long as I live I will never forget their opening number last night. We were seated about three-quarters of the way back, to the right of the central aisle – wishing we could have got further forward and nearer the action. The choir started filing in, and moved in two columns down the side aisles. I assumed they were heading for the stage – but they stopped when they had circled us. Ben Parry took to a podium facing backwards, raised his baton – and we were immersed in the crystal tones of Palestrina – then Tallis – then Byrd. It was like lying on a masseur’s couch on a beach somewhere in the Indian Ocean, being anointed with pure nard. They then processed onto the stage and delivered a virtuoso performance of Bach, Brahms, Shostakovich (bright and strong and very Russian), and Britten. It was wonderful. Their finale was a piece by Ben Parry, a setting of a Buddhist poem which celebrated the candle that lights the world – when a flame is shared it doubles its brilliance. As the choir started singing they moved out and circled us again. It was intensely spiritual. If I never hear another choir I’ll die happy.