The public’s emotions were “shaken and stirred”.
The Queen Anne School and its extensive grounds were the beautiful setting for a picnic and summer concert by the South Chiltern Choral Society.
The school hall, opened in 1936, offered excellent acoustics to hear the choir of more than 50 people.
The theme of the evening was the music of cinema classics, starting with a delightful choral review of The Wizard of Oz, including Somewhere over the rainbow.
Conductor Paul Burke presented each segment with confidence and humor, providing very interesting facts, even though most of the pieces were already well known.
The classic movie casablanca gave him the opportunity to introduce the popular melody Over time and ask pianist Ian Westley to “play it again, Ian”.
Ian played masterfully and with great sensitivity.
A piano duet followed where Ian and Paul excelled with a technically challenging arrangement from Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess.
Soloist Bethany Woolgrove then stepped forward to sing the Ivor Novello classic I can give you starlight of The dancing years.
Bethany sang with sweetness and confidence, continuing with two songs by Frederic Loewe My fair lady, wouldn’t it be in love and I could have danced all night.
The first half ended with the full choir singing a medley of Rodgers and Hammerstein on Broadway with a richness of tone. They obviously enjoyed singing popular classics such as The sound of music. The audience responded with enthusiasm and joy for this excellent entertainment.
Their good mood was further boosted by being served complimentary glasses of wine in the meantime. The second half opened with a medley of popular songs from the classic Mama Mia! written by Abba’s Benny Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus, arranged by Mac Huff, including I have a dream and Thanks for the music.
Pianist Ian Westley brilliantly demonstrated his versatility in the following two solos: John Williams’ famous theme from HEY and Maurice Jarre’s dramatic and haunting theme Lawrence of Arabia.
Bethany Woolgrove then sang Stephen Sondheim The children will listen but its softly sung lyrics were initially hard to hear against the piano, though the song quickly reached a crescendo with its higher notes blasting through the audience.
His interpretation of Leonard Bernstein I feel pretty of West Side Story was played with great animation to the delight of the public.
The final part of the performance was a choral medley of “the best of Bond”, arranged by Ned Ginsburg, beginning and ending with the iconic sound of the film’s theme song.
The audience clearly enjoyed this rousing finale, giving thunderous and prolonged applause.
After the concert, Paul Burke said how pleased he was with the performance of his singers.
The success of his teaching could be measured as the audience began to emerge from the concert hall into the evening sun.
The distinctive sound of the Bond theme repeated by many happy audience members could clearly be heard.