Stirling University Choir concert

Last Saturday I was singing in Dunblane Cathedral with Stirling University Choir. Our conductor Alistair Warwick had chosen to put on a very different concert from our usual fare in the shape of a programme entitled ‘Folk Songs from the British Isles’. Unfortunately, this had not fallen together entirely to our satisfaction, due to a lack of rehearsal time and being unable to obtain music for some of the pieces Alistair wanted to do. However, if the programme left something to be desired, the concert on the night went very well indeed. The centrepiece of the programme was four Burns settings by Carolyn Sparey, including two world premières. ‘Willie Wastle dwalt on Tweed’ was a particular favourite of mine (although not to everyone’s taste) and also a challenging sing – probably the most difficult piece of the night with chromatic tenor runs and other unusual moments. Other good sings included ‘What shall we do with a drunken sailor’ and ‘While shepherds watched their flocks by night’ in a smashing arrangement by our accompanist Matthew Beetschen of its original tune Cranbrook (now better known as ‘On Ilkla Moor Baht ’at’)The songs we sang were:

trad. Drunken Sailor
trad. Paddy on the Railway
Matt McGinn Coorie Doon
Benjamin Milgrove Mt Ephraim (Come ye that love the Lord – Isaac Watts)
anon. Sumer is icumen in
trad. Migildi, Magildi
Carolyn Sparey O Wert Thou in the Cauld Blast (World première)
trad. arr. Dennis MacDonald Ye Banks and Braes
Carolyn Sparey Willie Wastle Dwalt on Tweed

Interval

Carolyn Sparey A Red, Red Rose (World première of choral version)
Karine Polwart Follow the Heron
Carolyn Sparey Craigieburn Wood
trad. The Spinner’s Wedding
Vin Garbutt The troubles of Erin
Elizabeth Ann Spencer Irish Blessing
Thomas Clark, arr. Matthew Beetschen Cranbrook (While shepherds watched their flocks)
trad. arr. Jayne Davies Beside the Sea
trad. arr. Dennis MacDonald Will ye no’ come back again

This programme was augmented by poem readings and solo items by Carolyn Sparey on viola and Matthew Beetschen on organ. There were plenty of opportunities for members of the choir to do solos, all of whom acquitted themselves wonderfully. This was a very fun concert to be a part of – and those members of the audience that I spoke to seemed to enjoy it. It was surprising, at least for me, how much fun could be got out of really simple items like ‘Drunken Sailor’ and the round ‘Sumer is icumen in’

We are now looking forward to our next concert on the 4th of December, when we will be performing Britten’s St Nicholas, Finzi’s In terra pax and Normand Lockwood’s Carol Fantasy

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