Review: Nearly 300 singers join in a real musical celebration in Warwick

Clive Peacock reviews the Festival of Voices at Warwick Hall, held on October 5

This is the most remarkable coming together of choirs and community singing groups in the calendar. Roger Joseph, chair of Divertimento, describes the event as a “special occasion, a celebration of the diversity and cohesiveness of differing groups enjoying singing together”.

Last Saturday was one of those remarkable occasions involving close to 300 singers representing rock choirs, folk club choirs, children’s choirs and male voice choirs. Driving the event was the committee of Divertimento, a formidable group of 25 singers under new musical direction with Paul Sudlow, a creative composer and excellent conductor. With all participants on stage at the close of the event, Sudlow brought the occasion to a very happy close with a fiery rendition of Down by the Riverside.

Vocal Generation began the joyful occasion with four young people stealing the hearts of the audience as they played their percussion instruments. Two Castles Male Voice choir excelled in the performance of a new work, Hiraeth, a beautiful composition well suited to these fine male voices. Fun and games took over with Harbury Folk Club Choir bringing wheelie bins on stage to support their Let’s Recycle offering.

Dr Angela Moran, an accomplished musician with Conservatoire connections, brought three local Rock Choirs together from Kenilworth, Coventry and Warwick to deliver a hugely inclusive performance having enjoyed their recent impromptu flash mob at Morrison’s in Leamington!

Village Voices demonstrated “choralography” - a skill in moving in unison to the music; Jeremy Dibb brought the very best out of the Warwickshire Children’s Chorus, reminding the audience of the importance of music and singing in bringing people together. Hosts Divertimento brought the works of Parry, Purcell and Whitacre to their efforts, presenting excellent harmonies and emphasising the importance of light and shade when it matters. To round off their contribution they engaged many in a rendition of Bill Hayley’s hit Rock Around the Clock.

This was an evening of fine singing, an immensely enjoyable occasion.