Nailing it in Nailsea!
On Saturday, 25th November, Fascinating Rhythm took part in the Nailsea Festival of Music, a very successful musical event that has been running since 2005 thanks to a team of local volunteers. Despite being an open event with various classes, this year’s singing competition felt like a mini barbershop convention with many friends and familiar faces from West Country choruses and quartets. There were jokes and comments made about the many interconnections between groups, but it made for a full auditorium which was warm, supportive and good humoured.
The Barbershop Open class was supported by Fascinating Rhythm; The Great Western Chorus, with new director Craig Kehoe out front for his debut directing gig; quartet Off the Record (who formed from GWC); Avon Harmony A Capella Chorus and quartet Specs Appeal (who originally formed from Fascinating Rhythm). The songs chosen varied from barbershop classics to adaptations of show songs and beautiful ballads. Fascinating Rhythm performed two of its newest songs.
The first was an up-tune, with lyrics adapted by Tom Gentry, Jo Thorn and Kitty Davies, to make it more accessible to modern audiences. The adjudicator, Anne Marshall, particularly enjoyed the confident start, clear rhythm and amusing gestures that highlighted the lyrics. She also commented on the crisp diction, lovely balance and blend of voices and the way every member focused and gave engaging facial expressions. She also mentioned that she very much enjoyed the variety of the director, Jo Thorn, moving between directing and singing in each section.
Fascinating Rhythm’s second song in this class was another Tom Gentry arrangement of a ballad, originally written in French. This was Fascinating Rhythm’s first public performance of the song, and they were delighted with the adjudicator’s comments, showing that the hard work that had been put in to demonstrate the beautiful chording, harmonies and rhythms had all been successful and very much appreciated. Fascinating Rhythm were given a score of 87, which reflects an excellent performance both technically and artistically. They were pipped into first place (by one mark!) by the very great, Great Western Chorus!
The second class Fascinating Rhythm entered was entitled Choral Open, but the only non-Barbershop entry was the very cute, talented and accomplished Portishead Youth Choir. They were joined by Fascinating Rhythm, Waves of Harmony from Weston, Avon Harmony and The Great Western Chorus. This class had a huge variety of performances, from pop classics and country songs to show tunes.
Fascinating Rhythm performed one of its repertoire favourites, Billy Joel’s ‘And So It Goes’, which is ever-evolving with the chorus as it brings new vocal skills and performance techniques into play. The adjudicator praised the way the words were treated with care and expression; the phrasing was beautiful, and the performance was moving and expressive. The audience literally held its breath at the end.
Fascinating Rhythm’s second song was (just a few verses of) the epic piece by Leonard Cohen, Hallelujah. The adjudicator called it a performance that “packed an emotional punch”, appreciating the sustained phrasing in the harmony parts and the controlled, quiet singing. This time, she gave an even better score of 88 (but those pesky GWC men pipped us again with 89!).
Our thanks go to all those volunteers who worked so hard to make the day a success: those from the Nailsea Festival of Music, the adjudicator Anne Marshall, those from our own chorus for organising us and arranging warm-up spaces, and all those from other choruses who made the day so inclusive and supportive. Overall, doing what we all love at a highly well-organised event was a most enjoyable day.