By Andrew Gordon - 24th June 2019 9:30am
After Mozart in May it was jazz in June. The Thame Choral Society returned to St Mary's on Saturday for their summer concert, 'In the Mood'. The central theme was Gershwin and the evening brought us all the American fizz and exuberance of his period of influence. Thame Choral normally does classical but here they showed themselves just as able to kick off their (metaphorical) shoes and do party-time.
Besides the choir numbers, mostly from well-known shows, and party pieces from individual members, we had some serious instrumental jazz, especially from Steve Morris on the clarinet and Jon French at the piano. Both artists communicated the excitement of applying their classical equipment to the liberated world of jazz, both exploring the limits of what their instruments could do. 'Who would have thought a piano had so many notes?' was one overheard comment on Jon French's 'Rhapsody in Blue'.
The choir's director is mostly seen from behind, but it was a thrill to hear Helen Swift in full operatic voice singing 'Summertime' and 'It ain't necessarily so'. At more intimate level, Judith Newnham recreated nightingales in Berkeley Square. And, stepping forward from the basses, Neil Shepherd-Smith had everybody laughing with his 'Frankie and Johnny' and 'Please don't talk to me when I'm gone'. A natural entertainer.
The evening (which included Pimms and strawberries at half time) was rounded off with society chair Vicki Edwards leading the entire house in a rousing 'Let's do it', all revelling in the absurd and anarchic words. "Even lazy jelly fish..."
This is a well-directed and fine spirited group. After the holidays they will be moving on to Handel's 'Messiah' and they invite anyone who likes singing and wishes to join them to contact Vicki at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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