18 May 2019
‘From the Top’ Orchestra and Choir Raises Money for School
It seems hard to believe that this local orchestra and mixed-voice choir, both founded and brilliantly led by Pat Dowling, have been in existence for only 2 years! Both groups are largely made of people with little experience of public performance, yet the programme chosen for their concert on May 18th at Midsomer Norton Methodist Church, and its delivery, were both splendid and totally uplifting. The theme was ‘Music from the Movies’.
The orchestra opened with all guns blazing - playing dramatic excerpts from the wild-west followed by an enchanting rendition of Henry Mancini’s Moon River. The choir began with the jaunty ‘Singing in the Rain’. ‘May it be’ from Lord of the Rings was next up, soon followed by a superb offering of the challenging rhythms and lyrics of Toto’s ‘Africa’ – with weather choralography to match! Then ‘Ashokan Farewell’, a haunting lament from the ‘American Civil War’, required a complete mood change, which was captured with great confidence. The flute ensemble chipped in with ‘The Entertainer’ from The Sting, before the orchestra played an abridged version of the first movement of Schubert’s Unfinished Symphony. Then ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’ was a real foot-tapping romp! The first half concluded with everyone (it was a full house) having the opportunity to sing ‘Edelweiss’ from The Sound of Music. And didn’t they do well!
After tea and cakes the orchestra played ‘The Magic of Harry Potter’. This was followed by the world premiere of ‘Light a Candle to St. Valentine’, a piece composed by bassoonist and orchestra member Phillip Belben! The choir retook the stage to sing ‘A Million Dreams’ from The Greatest Showman. The solo sections were all sung with assurance and great aplomb. As a complete contrast, the choir then sang ‘May the Road Rise to meet You’, a poignant and very old Irish blessing, used in a documentary about the ethnic Irish heritage in America and sung beautifully. Lastly we were treated to the ‘Circle of Life’ from Disney’s ‘The Lion King’. The introductory ‘Nants’ Ingonyama’ was superbly sung by soloist Kate and the whole choir gave a rendition which was both thrilling and moving in equal measure. The evening was brought to a close with the orchestra playing ’Fiesta Tropicale’ – a compilation of Latin themes such as Quando Quando Quando and La Bamba. It was difficult not to dance! Finally, selectionsfrom Les Miserables, in which the choir joined the orchestra for ‘Do you hear the people sing?’ finished off the entertainment in a wonderfully inclusive way.
Of course, musical entertainment like this, played and sung with great energy and enthusiasm, can only be the result of hard work. All of the singers and players were excellent and did themselves proud. Special mention should be made of the lovely accompanist Sally Richards, who supported the choir with skill and sensitivity.
‘From the Top’ concerts always have a fund raising focus and on this occasion £900 will be donated to Farrington Gurney school to support their new outdoor teaching and learning facility! It was a real privilege to listen to these performances! I look forward to the next concert!