Tuesday, 2 July 2013

Portsmouth Festivities 2013: The Portsmouth Military Wives Choir

by Will Sparkes

On Wednesday 26th June, the ladies of the Portsmouth Military Wives Choir assembled in St. Thomas’ Cathedral for what promised to be a rousing, yet heartfelt, concert.
The choir was conducted by the school’s very own Mr Ben Charles, and singing were Mrs Karen Sparkes, a biology teacher, and Mrs Debbie Massey, a parent. The 56-strong group sang songs from An Officer and a Gentleman, and also songs such as Sing, which was written by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Gary Barlow, but also more patriotic pieces of music, such as Jerusalem and Rule Britannia.
The audience participation was drawn from the crowd by Mr Charles, with renditions of It’s a Long Way to Tipperary, allowing the crowd to feel part of the concert as an experience rather than just a recital, and as the stewards, prefects and (confusingly) the organist rushed around handing out lyrics sheets, the excitement of the older generation in the Cathedral was palpable at the prospect of singing the Vera Lynn Medley. These pieces also allowed the men in the crowd to wipe the tears from their eyes and regain their manliness by singing the far too low bass part of Jerusalem. Still, the cannon that occurred during Tipperary was much jollier and sufficient bobbing, and other such Last Night of the Proms head movement, was used proudly and in a completely British manner.
The comprehensive array of music, from upbeat (The Rhythm of Life from Sweet Charity) to the moving (On My Own) perfectly reflected the ups and downs which the families of service men and women go through, and allowed the audience to feel touched and inspired. The donations were generous and the concert was a true spectacle, topped off with the vast Union Flag combined with the National Anthem which provided ample opportunity to flag-wave like there was no tomorrow.
A special thank you to Lyndon Ford (the organist/piano player), Mr Ben Charles, the musical director, and of course the fantastic ladies, who sang exceptionally well to remind us what music is really all about.

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