A musical treat for the festive season

WITH its accent on youthful performers, the final Autumn Series Lunchtime Concert at St George’s United Reformed Church proceeded with enthusiasm, gusto and skill to the delight of a large audience.

Central to the concert were two children’s choirs from Ashington.

The first, from St Aidan’s RC First School, conducted by Karen Driver, opened with four items with a Christmas flavour. The first two, Away In A Manger and Rocking Carol, very traditional, the others, The Gift and Midnight, more modern.

The choir sang in a sweet and very musical manner, with extremely fine diction and a good sound. Its enthusiasm was obvious, but the choir was well controlled and very accurate in its presentation. The precise singing of the irregular rhythm in the final carol was an excellent example of its musical discipline.

The second choir, from St Benedict’s RC Middle School, joined St Aidan’s for the final part of the concert. It was the first time the two choirs had performed together in public, but their performance did not suggest that.

In four pieces, Like A Candle Flame, The Angel Gabriel, Go Tell It On The Mountain and Who Comes This Night?, they sang with solidarity, with excellent movement and tone. The older children provided a more mature sound, but the enthusiasm was still very much to the fore.

Accompanied by Paul Elliott on guitar and Kathy Anderson on piano, the choirs could feel very proud of their contributions.

In between the choir items were two soloists, soprano Rebecca Megwa and flautist Abigail Winfield. Both are Year 11 students at KEVI and are already experienced performers.

Rebecca sang three songs reflective of a blues approach. Stormy Weather, was beautifully presented, with a wonderful flowing rhythm. A spiritual, Wade In The Water, followed and again Rebecca sang with great control and thoroughly empathised with the haunting melody. Her final rendering of the hymn Amazing Grace was superbly presented, with beauty and pathos, and ended an amazing performance.

Abigail performed two compositions, the first Adagio and Allegro from Bach’s Sonata in E Major. Bach’s music is never easy, but Abigail played with control and a pleasant tone. The slower Adagio flowed in a delightful manner, while in the Allegro Abigail’s playing was distinct and accurate. Her final contribution was the Prelude from John Rutter’s Suite Antique. Abigail managed the more awkward moments very well and her playing, particularly in the upper register, was of the highest order.

Both Rebecca and Abigail were supported by Ken Irvine on piano, who put them at ease in his usual calm and assured way.

The performances of the girls were most competent and of a high standard, and they are two young artistes to look out for in the future.

Last but not least, Marjorie Neave entertained the audience to two of her humorous monologues. A former music teacher and accomplished pianist, she has been entertaining with monologues for years. The first monologue had a seasonal flavour and featured a five-year-old girl trying to sleep before the arrival of Santa, describing her thoughts on Christmas Eve. The second was a nostalgic look at Ashington 60 years ago through the eyes of a teenage girl.

Both were full of humour, yet behind it were reflections of true human experiences and Marjorie’s delivery was precise and most dramatic.

The midday concerts resume in 2012 on Wednesday, January 11, featuring a woodwind trip from the Royal Northern College of Music.