Christmas concert: REVIEW: BGMC comes of age

Carole Todd December 9, 2019

Tonight’s sold out Brighton Gay Mens Chorus concert was dedicated to James Ledward and his family in order to support the Ledward Fund, which is ring fenced within the Brighton Rainbow Fund and available for local homeless charities to draw on, acknowledging that 1/3rd of homeless people in Brighton and Hove identify as LGBTQ+,  a situation that James cared about greatly.
We have many fine choirs in Brighton and Hove and we should never compare them as they are all unique and important in their own way but it is safe to say that, for me,  BGMC are the Daddy of them all. Not just for their numbers but for their constant growth and innovation which, in turn, encourages the other choirs to experiment and move forward also.
This evening was a wonderfully non- Christmas ‘It’s Christmas’ show. A quite dark first half, full of thought provoking rich harmonies and constant unexpected dynamics with Act 2 pushing the boundaries up a notch and finishing it off with slick, camp, well loved moves  in the encore.
It seems unfair to praise anyone individually so, although each member of the audience will have their own list, I shall just name a few of my own personal ones from this evenings performance. Here they are:
  1. The Coventry Carol – sounded like glorious syrup it was so rich and smooth
  2. Hypnotised by Kristin Houlston with the exciting pop/rock falsetto voice. An alternative to musical theatre tone
  3. Gravity by Jonathon Clayton, demonstrating the art of stillness and voice control, so moving
  4. A beautiful simple World War One poem by, I believe , Steve Richards  although this was not clear in the programme.
  5.  Wrecking Ball – a personal favourite full of wonderful contrasts of tone, volume and emotion
  6. You havn’t seen the last of me yet – complex and dynamic
  7.  Thomas Aird and Stephen Tucker lifting our spirits , with their Eric and Ernie fun contribution
  8. Act 2 started with a staccato approach worthy of any opera chorus and then we were treated to 4 different episodes of “ The Grinch” brilliantly portrayed by Andrew Farr. A different kind of comedy from the Chorus but most effective
  9. Rod Edmunds Still, Still, Still was a master class in “acting through song”:
  10. The quality of the vocals in When you tell me that you love me was so immaculate, it sounded like one voice
  11.  The sincerity of Graeme Clark with Grown Up Christmas List
Using the pulpit for the speeches was fine although the sound monitors  attached to the column in front of it obstructing some sight lines however, we heard everything beautifully. For the first time ever in 10 years, I found the Track intrusive now the harmonies and tonal qualities are so high so consider working with keys or live band only!
To finish off, with the help of the sensitive accompaniment of music director Tim Niall, all praise should go to Joe Paxton a truly talented and humble young Chorus director.
Not one word was spoken, never did he take applause or stand in a spot light until the very end, truly dedicated to his chorus.
Reviewed by Carole Todd for Gscene