Close to a thousand patrons were treated to a wonderful evening of choral music and song at the annual concert of Mayo Male Voice Choir at the Royal Theatre on Thursday night last. The fifty strong choir, ably assisted by soloists Anne Marie Gibbons, Sean Costello and David Durham, and the ladies of Castlebar Parish Choir, delivered a programme which had something for every taste and from across the choral spectrum.
From the opening bars of accompanist, Rebecca Cresham's intro to " A Grand Night for Singing ",until the curtain came down at the close of " The Battle Hymn of the Republic ", the capacity audience enjoyed every moment. Add in the mellow sounds of the Wolfgang Ensemble, whose repertoire included their warmly received version of the Beatles " Eleanor Rigby", and it is easy to see why this concert is such a firm favourite with Mayo music lovers.
The Male Voice Choir itself has grown in strength and confidence over the years from its initial membership of fourteen to today's full complement of fifty plus. The Choir is equally at home with compositions ranging from the fullblooded " Nothing Like a Dame " ( with added input from first bass, Stephen Brady ), to Verdi's sublime " Virgin of the Angel Host ", sung with Anne Marie Gibbons, and one of the real highlights of the evening.
The Choir's repertoire has always been varied, and this year is no exception. The Elvis Presley hit " Can't Help Falling in Love " proves as adaptable to four-part harmony as does " Over the Rainbow ", and the Beach Boys' classic calypso " Sloop John B " as easily as does Brendan Graham's universally acclaimed " You Raise Me Up ". A great favourite with the audience was the well loved " Isle of Inisfree", while " Climb Every Mountain "completed a selection of pieces from Rodgers and Hammerstein.
This year's guest soloists were the talented trio of Anne Marie Gibbons, mezzo soprano, Sean Costello. tenor and David Durham, baritone, all well known to Male Voice audiences. Anne Marie Gibbons' pieces included the very lovely " Wishing You were Somehow Here Again ", from " Phantom of the Opera ", and she duetted beautifully with Sean Costello on " True Love ", from the Grace Kelly / Bing Crosby musical " High Society ", then teaming up with David Durham for " People Will Say We're in Love ". Sean Costello's " Nella Fantasia " was followed by the moving " Bui Doi " from " Miss Saigon ". David Durham changed gear from the haunting " Les Chemins de L'amour ", to lead the choir through a swashbuckling version of " Who Wants to be a Millionaire ".
As always, compere Tommy Marren kept things moving smoothly in his accomplished way, and if the audience had any regrets, it was that such an entertaining show came to an end so soon.
Mayo Male Voice Choir chairman, Roddy Moran, thanked the audience for their attendance, with a special word of welcome for Minister Michael Ring, who had travelled from Dublin to be in attendance.
He issued an invitation to Mayo men to join the choir, where there was great friendship and cameraderie among the members, and where newcomers were made particularly welcome.The Choir meets for weekly rehearsal at the GMIT, Castlebar,and new members could be assured of being made feel welcome. Choral singing, he said, was a great social outlet which was open to all.
The Chairman extended thanks to all who had made the show such a success, especially the Musical Director, Deirdre Lee, and the choir's new accompanist, Rebecca Cresham, who was given a warm hometown reception on her debut appearance with the Choir.