30 August 2013

Review of Come and Sing Oliver! Snape Proms

By Rachel Sloane

Singing makes you feel good. I can’t tell you why but, whether it is singing  to songs on the radio or (in my case) when I go to Felixstowe Community Choir each Monday to sing with a crowd of other people, my heart lifts, a smile comes on my face and the world seems a brighter place. That could be why the sing-along events at Snape Proms are so popular. The first one was last year and featured The Sound of Music. I missed it, so was determined to make it this year to Come and Sing Oliver!


Gareth Malone is the ever-popular TV choir master who made singing trendy again, but he has a strong rival in any Best Choir Master league table with the charismatic Ben Parry, the conductor of Aldeburgh Voices. The Snape-based choir had learnt all the harmonies and would sing  Boy for Sale and the lovely introduction to Who Will Buy when the street sellers calls send a tingle up your spine. For all the other well-known songs,  Food Glorious Food, Be Back Soon, Pick a Pocket or Two, etc it was up to the audience to sing, with enthusiasm if not talent, the Lionel Bart musical.    


Several hundred keen singers of all ages poured into Snape Maltings Concert Hall, many dressed as characters from the musical. There were tiny grubby pickpockets in ragged clothes, several Fagins in battered top hats and tail coats, and many a Nancy, dressed in boots and flowing petticoats, including one very butch masculine version!


Ben took us through the songs (we were given word sheets), with Aldeburgh Voices and Imogen Parry (who was to beautifully sing Nancy’s songs). Accompanied by The Ragamuffins, four young musicians, Romilly Whiteley,( saxophone), George Parry (double bass),  Sam Wilson (percussion) and Alex Woolf (piano), we duly dropped our “haitches” and tried to sing Cockney-style. With much laughter, we learnt the songs in the first half and then, after the interval, came back to perform them. Now dressed for their roles, Imogen and Ben (who, with that voice should be on the West End stage rather than a Suffolk stage) obviously enjoyed their evening as much as we did.


Aldeburgh Voices, who are more used to singing classical music, seemed to enjoy dressing up and letting their hair down, and a great time was had by all. Ben, Imogen, the choir and the musicians made the evening seem easy and spontaneous, but there must have been many rehearsals to enable an audience of amateur singers to leave a concert hall, proud of their efforts and planning to return to the next sing-along concert.

We will be there – and hope to bring more Felixstowe singers with us!