THE Annual Clare Chorale Concert on Saturday, March 24 at Ballyclare High School was the perfect balance of exquisite music and song, providing a superb night’s entertainment for the sell-out audience.
The performances by the 40-strong mixed choir Clare Chorale with music by the City of Belfast Youth Concert Band lived up to, and indeed exceeded, highly acclaimed previous annual events.
BBC Arts and Culture broadcaster Marie-Louise Muir compered the evening and enthused about the variety of music which was drawn from the shows, from spiritual sources and folklore as well as a deep reservoir of good old fashioned brass band music.
Mr David Knox, Principal of Ballyclare High, was basking in his school’s recent sporting success on the rugby pitch and hockey field, but he said that homegrown musical talent was to be greatly admired too - as both Sheelagh Greer the Clare Chorale Conductor, and Colin Irvine, City of Belfast Youth Concert Band Director, are past pupils of the school.
Peter Cody delivered an impeccable tenor solo in ‘The Lord is my Shepherd’ by Howard Goodall, while Doagh businessman Bill Blair led the Men’s Section of the Chorale in a new rendering of Billy Joel’s ‘The Longest Time’.
Not to be undone, Sheelagh chose ‘Across the Wide Missouri’ and Abba’s ‘Thank You for the Music’ for the Women’s Section, both to rapturous applause.
Darren Baird gave a sensitive and striking lead on the piano for all 15 Clare Chorale pieces, while a range of percussion, brass and woodwind reverberated around the Hall as the Youth Band bounced and swung along to Colin’s baton.
The best was kept to the end when the choir and band combined to sing and play ‘Anthem’ from the hit musical Chess, with Sheelagh Greer bringing the house down with a superlative solo throughout the piece.
Choir chair, Alan Strong, in bringing the concert to a close, was particularly upbeat about the appreciative audience, as well as the vital support and sponsorship generously provided by Asda and Logwood Nurseries.
He was keen to invite everyone present back for the 10th Anniversary Concert which will take place on March 9, 2013, and which will be staged in the Theatre at The Mill, Mossley Mill, Newtownabbey.
Alan also made a point of praising and commending the hard work of the Clare Chorale Committee made up of Kay Johnston, Sheelagh Greer, Dawn Bradshaw, Gayle Ziola, Ada Polley, Jackie Strange, Nigel Simpson and Bill Blair, as well as the sound and lighting direction of David Holmes.