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Melton Mowbray Choral Society in action in St Mary's Church, Melton Mowbray, on Saturday night.

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James Gutteridge addresses the crowd in St Mary's Church at Melton Mowbray Choral Society's latest concert.

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The Choral Society were in fine form in St Mary's Church.

Oh, what a night! 

Wow, what a night! A warm summer's evening, the beautiful setting of St Mary's Church, and a concert featuring Melton Mowbray Choral Society under the direction of the talented James Gutteridge.

What could be better? It looked good on paper, but proved spectacular on Saturday (June 29th).

My wife Karen and I have had the pleasure of following the progress that the Choral Society has made since James reformed it in 2013. Members have been on an incredible journey since their very first concert and were in superb form for their latest billed A Summer Serenade. I've said it many times in my reviews over the years that you think they can't get any better than their last performance... and then they do!

That was the case on Saturday night. You could see from the relaxed and polished performances that each and every member was having fun on the night and was giving everything they had to make the evening such an outstanding success.

Congratulations must go to everyone in the Choral Society for the hours of practice and hard work they have obviously put in to produced such a great performance. The programme was varied, challenging and oh so entertaining. It has to be said that it is clear that James Gutteridge has a knack of getting the best out of those around him, and it certainly showed on Saturday.

It was also nice to see that a good crowd of people, upwards of 200, had decided to come along on the night.

The programme started with Which is the Properest Day to Sing by Thomas Arne, Now is the month of Maying by Thomas Morley, Cantique de Jean Racine by Gabriel Faure and Lullaby by Daniel Elder before the first solo spot of the evening Clair de Lune by Claude Debussy played on piano by the talented James Bladon.

Ann Gregory then gave an accomplished solo performance of Silent Noon by Ralph Vaughan Williams and this was followed by solo performances of Summer by Paul Reade, played on the clarinet by Sandra Tebbutt, and Shepherds Song by Sir Edward Elgar by Sue Elliott.
This was followed by Sure on this shining night by Morten Lauridsen, Adiemus by Karl Jenkins, The Seal Lullaby by Eric Whitacre and The heavens are telling by Joseph Haydn.

A fitting end to a thoroughly enjoyable first half. But this was a concert of two halves. And the best fun was yet to come. You could tell it was coming when the men came out after the interval in red bow ties (even a Union Jack one and someone in red braces) and the ladies in red and blue scarves. There was even a few Union Jack flags to be seen, but that was still to come.

The second half got off to a stirring start with George F. Handel's Zadok the Priest followed by Be still, my soul by Jean Sibelius. Ar hyd y nos or in English All Through the Night followed and then Londonderry Air by Bob Chilcott, before a brilliant solo performance on piano by James Bladon of George Gershwin's I Got Rhythm.

It was then Ann Gregory's turn for the solo spot again with O Waly Waly, and this in turn was followed by another clarinet solo by Sandra Tebbutt with Nicclo Paganini's Caprice No.24 and Sue Elliott's interpretation of George Gershwin's Summertime.

A medley of British sea songs followed before flags started waving on stage. Yes, it was time to get the patriotic juices flowing with a rousing performance of Sir Edward Elgar's Pomp and Circumstance March No 1 in D major, including Land of Hope and Glory, followed by C. Hubert Parry's Jerusalem.

The National Anthem followed before the final performance of the night, An Irish Blessing. 

As I said at the beginning. Wow! Brilliant, superb, fantastic. A fabulous night of music. I want more please!!

*If you didn't manage to see the Choral Society's concert on Saturday night their next performance will be Eternal Light by Howard Goodall, in collaboration with the Dance Department of Brooksby Melton College, on Saturday, October 26th at 7.30pm in St Mary's Church, Melton Mowbray.

Pictures: Phil Balding

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James Bladon gave a polished performance of George Gershwin's I Got Rhythm.

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Other soloists on the night were Ann Gregory, above, Sue Elliott, below, and Sandra Tebbutt, below here.

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Above and below: Pictures of Melton Mowbray Choral Society in St Mary's Church on Saturday night.

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Phil Balding, 30/06/2019