Diversity and enthusiasm from Gale Force voices at Futuna

Colours of Futuna presents:
Gale Force Gospel Choir  (Small Ensembles)

The Yorkett Quartet – Carol Lough, Gunilla Jensen, Neil Pryor, Gina Coyle
Bring Me Little Water Sylvie  (H Ledbetter, arr. Max Maxwell)
When I get Inside / Our Father  Trad gospel, arr. Tony Backhouse
Going Down to Jordan (Trad, arr. Soweto Gospel Choir)

Gracenotes Quintet – Juli Usmar, Leigh Talamaivao, Fiona Walker                                                                       Richard Hale, Shelly Andrews
There is a Balm in Gilead (W Dawson, arr. Tony Backhouse)
Gotta do Right (Trad, after a version by the Heritage Singers)

Peter & Anne (Williams)
I Had a Real Good Mother & Father / By the Mark
(Trad, after Gillian Welch)

Vocalicious – Shona McNeil, Rachel MacLeod, Shelly Andrews
Halleluyah (Leonard Cohen, arr Shona McNeil)
Go to Sleep Little Baby (Harris/Kraus/Welch arr Vocalicious)

Indonesian Quartet – Mark Standeven, Carol Shortis,
Anne Manchester, Bill Shortis
Betapa Baiknya (Freddy Ahuluheluw arrr. Carol Shortis)

Triceratops Trio – Ben Woods, Laura Durville, Amber Coyle
Beams of Heaven (Charles A.Tindley, arr. Laura Durville)
Wanting Memory (Ysaye M. Barnwell, after Cantus)

Rise Up Trio – Gina & Jim Coyle
Cross Over to the Other Side of Jordan (from James & Martha Carson)

Pieces of Eight Octet – Liz King, Leigh Talamaivao, Bill Shortis, Gracie McGregor, Angela Torr, Ian Brewer, Andrew Thompson-David, Laura Durville
One Mornin’ Soon (arr. Tony Backhouse, after Johnita and Joyce Collins)
All Night, All Day (arr. Tony Backhouse, after The Caravans)

Futuna Chapel

 Sunday 9th November 2014

Right from the word go this short concert had the feeling of a community event, rather than a formal recital, and I’m sure that’s how the organisers wanted it. Gale Force Gospel choir is a diverse bunch of singers from many different backgrounds, who obviously enjoy the idioms of Negro Spirituals, both the singing and the swinging. They put together a varied programme of small ensemble pieces, incorporating both traditional numbers handed down from the original slaves, and subsequent compositions in similar vein.

Their enthusiasm was infectious, and it captured the full-house audience from first to last. It carried the singers through the odd loss of memory, and the not infrequent dodgy intonation of their a cappella style, but nobody seemed to mind – everyone was clearly having a ball, both singers and listeners.

The Yorkett Quartet was the most polished of the groups, and their opening bracket of traditional numbers was beautifully controlled in phrasing, intonation and ensemble, with exemplary clear diction. This is not easy to achieve in the lively acoustic of Futuna Chapel, but they judged their dynamics most effectively to suit.

The Gracenotes Quintet followed with a sensitive rendering of Balm in Gilead, then a complete switch in mood to the swinging rhythms and clapping beat of Gotta Do Right that was particularly popular.

The Vocalicious group’s Go to Sleep Little Baby was likewise acted out with rhythmic and rocking motions that brought their gentle lullaby very warmly to life.

The Rise Up Trio enacted the story of the Jews’ escape from captivity in Egypt very graphically with their swinging number Cross Over to the Other Side of Jordan despite some highly variable intonation. They invited the audience to join in the choruses, which was done with considerable enthusiasm.

This left the final bracket to the largest ensemble, the Pieces of Eight Octet, who closed the concert with two numbers full of the immediacy of angels. One Mornin’ Soon was propelled along by lively vocal “percussion” from the basses, and the vivid imagery of angels surrounding an ecstatic supplicant kneeling at prayer.

By contrast, All Night, All Day was a gentle, rocking number that rounded off the programme by committing the singers to the loving care of their guardian angels as sleep took over. It was an apposite finish to a well balanced and highly popular concert that epitomised community music making in the very best tradition.


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