Choir hits right note for summer

The Bailiffgate Singers'St James Pottergate Church - 2nd July, 2016
The Bailiffgate Singers'St James Pottergate Church - 2nd July, 2016

The Bailiffgate Singers at St Mary’s Church, Wooler.

Escaping the hot weather and the World Cup, a small but appreciative audience came out to St Mary’s Parish Church, Wooler on Sunday, July 8, to hear the Bailiffgate Singers perform an eclectic selection of choral arrangements of folk songs, songs from musicals, some pop songs, and a few rarities, under the capable direction of Caroline Fentiman.

The concert opened with a catch from 1733, Honest Malt Liquor, the earliest piece performed, followed by four traditional North East folk songs, including the little known Alnwick Football Song.

Then came songs from the Mikado, and the Rogers and Hammerstein musicals Carousel and South Pacific.

In the first half the music was interspersed with poetry readings by Gordon Castle and Barbara Naylor, and Simon Brett, the choir’s accompanist, left his piano and concertina to play a medley of wassail songs on the church organ.

Simon is a recent, and already very popular asset for the choir.

The first half ended with a lovely 2017 setting of a Christina Rosetti poem A Birthday by Carlotta Ferrari, and an arrangement of Sting’s 1993 classic Fields of Gold.

After refreshments, there were three more folk songs, including a tricky arrangement of Cushie Butterfield by Cheryl Camm, which was followed by Gordon Castle singing this song as a solo in his excellent Geordie, with everyone joining in the chorus with gusto.

Jamie Wanless and Mick Lock offered more readings, and the concert ended with a spirited rendition of Rhythm of Life, from the musical Sweet Charity.

It was interesting to see how many women composers were represented in this concert as nearly half the pieces were written or arranged by women.

These included local composers Margaret Watchhorn, Cheryl Camm, Kathryn Davidson and the Baliffgate Singers’ director herself, Caroline Fentiman.

The choir also performed music by the Scottish folk singer/composer Karine Polwart, and internationally-renowned Italian composer Carlotta Ferrari.

They will be working hard in future to increase and widen this repertoire.

Watch this space!

There is a second chance to hear the concert this weekend.

The Bailiffgate Singers are hosting a Songs and Scones event. Anyone wishing to hear them should pop along to Longhoughton Community and Sports Centre on Sunday, at 3pm.