NWN  review 25th June 2009


Choral music spanned nine centuries

 Cromwell Singers, at the United Reformed Church, Hungerford, on Saturday, June 20


THIS was the third of a series of concerts by the Cromwell Singers, beginning at Kintbury and ending, via Speen, in Hungerford.

Musical director Rosemary Evans introduced Sumer Is Incumen and Scarborough Fair Canticle as early music from the 12th century.  She also indicated that the Sleepytime Bach selection would be sung in the scat fashion introduced by jazz musicians and vocal group the Swingle Singers.

The choir sang this as they did all the selections with enthusiasm and bright, clear voices although it should be noticed that there is much more to scat singing than repeating ‘doobie um doo’, over and over again throughout the piece.  The idea is to produce, vocally, different sounds and pitches in an attempt to make the human voice, or voices, similar, approximately to the notes produced by instruments.

It was an interesting variation, though, on the more usual choir presentation of Bach’s music, and that composer was, after all, the ultimate improviser.

Next up was a piano duet by Daphne George, who faithfully accompanied the choir all evening, and was joined on this occasion for two songs by Rosemary Evans.

The choir returned for pieces by Edward Elgar, Donna Rhodenizer and, to round out the first half of the programme, a rousing version of Irving Berlin’s Alexander’s Ragtime Band.  Soloists Jim Clark and Bobby Vare set the tone and mood for the latter piece, one of the most successful performances of the evening.

Between the music selections, were poetry readings by John Hutchinson, who managed to compile a list of off-beat and often amusing verses.

After a break for drinks and a very good spread of snacks, we heard Mike Barthorp go solo on Come To The Fair and the choir continued with fresh arrangements of The Sound Of Silence, by Paul Simon, and Michel Legrand’s Windmills Of Your Mind. Rosemary Basden was the soloist n the latter.

Grainger’s Country Gardens was the first of another pair of piano duets by Daphne George and Rosemary Evans and the choir finished with a comprehensive selection of the best of Rodgers and Hammerstein that covered just about all of their well-known compositions.  With a selection that covered music from the 12th century to relatively modern times, the Cromwell Singers gave us a varied and fascinating programme of music that was performed with skill and enthusiasm.

Derek Ansell

Reproduced with the kind permission of Newbury Weekly News