Musical treat as choirs join
Reviewed by John Ward-Turner
CROYDON'S Male Voice Choir ushered in the town's Jubilee celebrations at the Fairfield Halls hosting a triumphant Jubilee Mass Choir Concert that thrilled a near-capacity audience with a rousing repertoire of hymns, anthems and patriotic songs.
Eleven choirs comprising more than 400 voices occupied the Fairfield stage for two hours of singing, ranging from the gentle spiritual, My Lord What a Morning to the stirring Battle Hymn of the Republic. Then came the celebratory climax, conducted by Croydon musical director Richard Hoyle, which included Land of Hope and Glory, I Vow to Thee My Country and Jerusalem, with repeated encores and enthusiastic audience participation.
Soprano Ann-Louise Straker, who had earlier performed three Italian arias, sported a union flag costume as she sang five verses of Rule Britannia! in true Last Night of the Proms style, accompanied by flags, banners and bunting.
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The musical directors of the ten visiting choirs spoke of their pride at being invited to conduct one song each during the concert. Their range of interpretations of traditional male-voice numbers was a musical treat, and they were brilliantly supported by Croydon MVC pianist Lana Bode and organist Richard Mander.
The ten visiting MVCs were: Basingstoke, Epsom, Greater Manchester Police, Honley, Royal Tunbridge Wells Orpheus, Rushmoor, Snowdown Colliery Welfare, St Stythians, Vauxhall and Weybridge.
The concert raised funds for the Seeing is Believing charity, backed by the Standard Chartered Bank, a world-wide initiative to tackle avoidable blindness. Collection boxes were rattled by cadets from the 66 (Selsdon) Squadron Air Training Corps, who also acted as ushers for visiting choirs and their supporters.