Like all Brighton and Hove’s choirs, these two fine examples have suffered in the claws of Covid. Few rehearsals or performances, illness… all have taken their toll and in addition, there has been a change of musical leadership as the long-time Resound choir director Stefan Holmström stepped down after a decade, to focus on his personal projects.
New director Sam Barton has taken up the mantle at what we thought could be the end of this scary pandemic and has done so with confidence and also with a fitting dedication to challenging this excellent choir with a programme of adventurous music that does not plod along on a menu of pop pap!
Together with the Rebelles, led by Miriam Roberts, they presented a programme of seasonal secular and sacred music that was a delight, peppering the wholesome very witty moments that leaned on the barbershop genre and the close harmonies of wartime and Hollywood sounds.
It’s always nice to see the choir break down into splinter groupings to add a variety of sounds too and I really enjoyed the moments when choir members step forward to showcase some excellent solo voices.
The programme was certainly eclectic, a little from Scandinavia, some Americana and some world folk too. All this is balanced with contemporary arrangements of traditional works. There were many highlights, a few wobbles (rapidly rescued by more confident members of the choir) and the whole held together by Sam and Miriam with the very talented Howard Beach at the piano and for some pieces Francesca Urquhart on double bass and Nick Van Vlaenderen on drums.
What always shines from these two choirs is ambition, a clear and positive approach to the challenges of new material and for we the audience the excitement of hearing new work. If I had to name a favourite from an evening of delights I would choose Frobishire Bay which saw those voices at their very best.
St George’s Kemp Town