Monifieth Singers return to Panmure Church

AFTER an absence of 15 years, Panmure Church was the setting for the annual Carol Concert of Monifieth Singers before a large and appreciative audience.

Monifieth Singers is a 40-strong choir of mixed voices led by musical director, Misia Paul, and accompanied this year by Sheonagh Coutts on organ and Susan Jenkin, piano.

The evening commenced with the rousing carol, ‘Masters in this Hall’, a French carol arranged by David Willcocks. Choir and audience then joined together in the favourite, ‘O Come all ye Faithful’.

There followed Bach’s ‘Zion hears the Watchmen’s Voices’. With the rather long organ introduction between verses and two, the first chorus can appear quite ponderous especially after the exhortations of ‘Come All ye faithful’. But choir and organist performed this piece very well, with an excellent rendering of the accompanying chorale. John Rutter brought smiles back to the audience with the lovely ‘What Sweeter Music’. Very well sung, with disciplined attention to the dynamics of the score.

The first soloist of the evening was George Mitchelson who chose the German carol, ‘O Tannenbaum’. Confidently delivery, always at its best in its native tongue. The audience was then invited to join with the choir together in the exhilarating, ‘Ding Dong Merrily on High’.

The choir was pleased to welcome Miss Ross and the choir from Seaview Primary School. They entertained with four lovely carols: ‘Come and Celebrate’; ‘Little Donkey’; ‘Away in a Manger’; and ‘We’ll Sing a Song’. Carols always seem to sound better with young voices, and the young people sang excellently.

Then it was time for the audience to sing: ‘Away in a Manger’ to the W.J. Kirkpatrick melody, arranged by Willcocks.

The next group commenced with the English traditional carol, ‘The Holly and the Ivy’. This was followed by the ‘The Little Drummer Boy’, sometimes known as ‘Carol of the Drums’, adapted from an old Czech carol by Katherine Davis. The male members of the choir provided an excellent “prum” background throughout with just the correct emphasis on the beat to produce the required effect. Last in the group was the ‘Twelve Days of Christmas’, with Monifieth Singers and the youngsters from Seaview. The young people helped to lift the roof of the church in the last verse.

The audience was presented with another treat with the soft modern carol, ‘Iona’. This was sung with sensitivity, with Liz Pardoe providing an excellent soprano solo. The choir then gave us the dynamic, ‘Jesus Christ is born for Aye’, sung a cappella. Another song where discipline is required by the male voices to produce the “ding-dong” of bells in strict time with just the correct emphasis and not too loudly. Although they later had their moment and produced a rather scary line to bring a shudder to the audience, “Herod is trembling, fearful of the new born king.” The mood changed, and the group finished with the sweet lullaby, ‘Sleep in Peace’.

Then another choir and audience carol, ‘While Shepherds Watched their Flocks by Night’.

The audience was then treated to another group of three songs commencing with the haunting, ‘The Shepherds’ Farewell’ by Berlioz from his L’Enfance du Christ. Next, a light, fast traditional carol of Dutch origin, ‘Heer jesus heft een Hofken’, or in English, ‘King Jesus Hath a Garden’, arranged by Rutter. The group concluded with Rosetti’s ‘In the Bleak Mid-Winter’, set to music by Holst. Three carols, very well interpreted and sung by the choir.

The second solo of the evening was given by Susan Jenkin, who entertained with a lovely little carol from the seventies, Beryl Price’s, ‘Small as a Bird’. Very well sung with great sensitivity. Then another choir and audience carol, the beautiful, ‘Silent Night’.

The concert concluded with a further group of three carols, all composed and arranged by the great man himself, John Rutter. ‘The Candlelight Carol’ was first, beautifully performed and matching the music and words with a most expressive rendition. The use of the baritone as a fifth voice can add to the depth of the choruses. ‘Nativity Carol’ was next. This is a delightful piece, with words to match the scene as we have come to picture at the birth of the baby Jesus. To conclude the group, the choir chose ‘Angels’ Carol’. Another excellent performance. Of particular note was the accuracy of the musical phrasing of “Gloria in Excelsis” in the choruses. John Rutter himself would have been proud of the choir in these three pieces.

The concert finished with choir and audience joining in a hearty rendition of ‘Hark the Herald Angels Sing’.

At the conclusion of the concert, guests were invited by chairman George Mitchelson to join with the choir in some après-concert cheer.