Christmas Concert, Braintree Male Voice Choir and the Essex Police Band. Braintree Arts Theatre. December 5
I was thrilled to see, at the start of this successful, sold-out show, that Musical Director, David Wood is encouraging his choir to abandon scores where possible and focus their attention on his precise conducting, Exemplified in My Lord What A Morning and well on the way in Softly As I Leave You, it paid dividends.
In the well planned programme, the tenors’ descant in Do You Hear What I Hear and a lovely New Zealand carol, anchored by the tremendously strong Rhythm Of Life, were special delights.
Well placed on the Arts Theatre stage, Nigel Cooper, MD of the Essex Police Band, quickly established a beautifully modulated sound. T Jay Mackenzie’s syncopated solo and Les Mis, in which percussion and almost vocal bass section shone, revealed the musical visitor’s scope.
The band’s second set got the pulses racing. After the challenges of an inaptly-named, Joyous Carillion, it was bass trombonist Andrew Norton’s novelty number, Frosty The Snowman, that stole the show. Three choir members threatened to do the latter too, when they made very able contributions to an uplifting samba
For me, the band’s highlight was their sensitively played Wagner. Nigel prefaced it with a deserved tribute to BMVC’s long-serving accompanist Hilary Morgan. Thomas Duchan, who has succeeded her, played throughout as if to the manner born.
Excellent timing, thoughtful programming and two carols sent the audience home very satisfied indeed.
Pat Rudkins. Halstead Gazette 11 December