Among the best and most popular of Brighton & Hove’s community choirs, the Rainbows returned with a triple celebration. They were here to celebrate their return to live performance, the festive season, but most movingly the life of volunteer Tricia Rupply who sadly died from Covid earlier this month. It was a touching gesture that certainly brought into perspective the reality of the pandemic and the truth that it is not yet over.
Choir director Aneesa Chaudhry certainly doesn’t let this ensemble off lightly and the programme of old favourites and new material was as varied and challenging as ever. On this occasion, they certainly rose to that challenge with some very fine singing indeed.
Community choirs are rather like rivers, sometimes they run high and at other times they run low, on Saturday night their river was bursting its banks with a rich ensemble sound, a solid lower voice presence and, despite being few in numbers, a soaring soprano sounds. It was very satisfying indeed.
Starting with an old favourite, True Colours, that full sound was given full exposure. Karl Jenkins’ beautiful Adiemus took it a step further, joyous and John Rutter’s transcription of Panis Angelicus was really excellent. I am always impressed by the range of music chosen by this choir and their seemingly fearless approach to a repertoire not simply based on pop.
Pie Jesu followed allowing that soaring soprano to really showcase their talent, and O Holy Night never fails to bring a tear to my eye.
Next, a couple of seasonal classics, which in my view set off too slowly and in doing so revealed a few cracks, nice enough but taken at a brisker pace they could have been better.
The first part ended with a striking arrangement of Paul Simon’s Bridge Over Troubled Water, but more of that later.
Part two kicked off with a moving arrangement of Sinead O’Connor’s In This Heart, very lovely indeed, followed by Fix Youand then Rise Up, all beautifully sung. I was less impressed by the arrangement of Human, the arrangement I say and not their performance. A Million Voices was far more impressive and then a couple of Christmas songs that we were allowed to join in.
Finally an interesting and effective arrangement of The First Noel with Pachabel’s Canon, very nice indeed.
The evening was punctuated by short speeches from choir members relating what the choir had meant to them during the last two years of restrictions and lockdowns, some very moving and some not short of humour.
For an encore, they re-sang the Paul Simon, Bridge Over Troubled Water. The first time round I was unsure but in this reprise, they nailed it, they sang it with a confidence that made sense of the arrangement.
The Rainbows have certainly returned and with renewed height and brilliant colour.
St George’s Kemp Town