Blackburn Festival of Voice 22nd June 2017

For the its last performance of the season, BMS took part in the Festival of Voice at King George’s Hall. This joyous extravaganza, which brought together various choirs in the region and the Blackburn and Darwen Brass Band, was attended by a large and enthusiastic audience.

Each group performed on its own, interspersed with songs sung by all choirs together, including ‘Mambo Italiano’, ‘Let No-one Steal Your Dreams’ (with British Sign Language) and ‘You’re Not Alone’ . The Blackburn People’s Choir’s a cappella rendition of ‘One Day Like This’ and ‘Here comes the Sun’ was impressive, The Renaissance Singers and Cathedral Choristers revealed their talent and precision in ‘Like A Singing Bird’ by Bob Chilcott and the Blackburn and Darwen Brass Band’s superb and lively performances of ‘Breezing down Broadway’ and ‘Helter-Skelter’ had everyone tapping their feet and some singers even joining in! Their outstanding xylophone player held listeners spellbound.

Our contribution, conducted by our own Tom Newall and accompanied, of course, by Joy Fielding, was Verdi’s ‘Va Pensiero’ from Nabucco and Mozart’s ‘Ave Verum’ from memory, which for some of the choir was a very special moment.

The ten Sing Together Schools choirs were amazing, the youngsters’ excitement palpable and infectious. As well as ‘The Fox’ they performed ‘Light The Candles’, a song that is particularly poignant at this time:

“Light a candle in the dark for those who must flee

Light seven billion candles

For peace.”

The children sang so beautifully that some listeners were moved to tears.

Altogether it was an uplifting and heart-warming event, full of energy. The audience, directed with his usual aplomb by Jeff Borradaille, who asked them to do fairly silly things throughout the evening, spontaneously rose to their feet to join in the final en-masse number ‘You’re not Alone.’

And then came a surprise ‘flash mob’ moment in which BMS joined the Renaissance Singers in a rendition of Handel’s ‘Hallelujah’ Chorus; this stopped quite a few of the audience in their tracks as they were leaving and raised applause.

For members of BMS who took part it was clearly a memorable evening:

‘BMS were placed central stage which, when it came to the signed songs was slightly embarrassing! However, guided faultlessly by Gill Fourie, we were able to perform the songs and even enjoy the experience.’

‘A very jolly evening…’

‘Top moment for me was coming off stage after the ‘Hallelujah’ and some of the children came out of their dressing room and applauded us back-stage.  That’s a moment that will stay with me – a meeting of the generations and they appreciated what we do.’

Huge thanks must go to Gill Fourie who organised this event and to the music outreach team. The evening was a real showcase of the musical talent in our area, showing the diversity of local music making. There was a very special atmosphere of unity and happiness –  more please!