/ // April 5, 2022
On Saturday 26 March a full house waited in anticipation for what would prove to be a wonderful night of musical entertainment.
Playing host for their first concert at St Helens Town Hall for two and a half years, HMVC welcomed the renowned Rossendale MVC, most ably directed by Matthew Thomas, together with The Parr Band led by Haydock’s own Musical Director, Dan Craddock.
Haydock MVC started the evening with a powerful selection of songs based on hymns: How Great Thou Art; And Can It Be; and finishing the section with Grace, an arrangement of Amazing Grace. All three showed the choir to be in fine voice, and were each greeted with rapturous applause from the audience.
As Haydock left the stage, The Parr Band played their first piece of the evening, a rendition of Doyen, which was warmly received. Then Rossendale MVC took to the stage for the first time and started with Fionnghuala, a traditional Scottish Gaelic song, which was a treat for the ears. The Seal Lullaby followed, a choral adaptation of Rudyard Kipling’s poem, by Eric Whitacre. The section finished with Anthem from Chess, which the choir dedicated to the people of Ukraine. This last rendition in particular caught the mood of the evening and the applause was warm and prolonged.
As Rossendale left the stage, The Parr Band played their second number entitled Ukrainian Prayer, which had been composed in the last month by Andreas Wetterlands. This was The Parr Band’s tribute to those in Ukraine.
HMVC’s second set found them in a more sombre mood with a rendition of How Soon, remembering loved ones lost to the pandemic, followed by Stars I Shall Find. This last was dedicated to anyone suffering with mental health issues. They finished with Bring Him Home from Les Miserables – Haydock’s own tribute to the Ukrainian people.
The first half ended with both choirs singing Homeward Bound, conducted by Matthew Thomas. The sound of seventy voices on stage was wonderful both to behold and see.
The second half began with Rossendale’s What Shall We Do With The Drunken Sailor, followed by The Sweetest Kick. The last song of this section was an arrangement of the Oasis hit Don’t Look Back in Anger.
Following this was The Parr Band’s own version of Amazing Grace, arranged by William Himes.
Haydock started their final set with O Se Shalom, followed by regular crowd pleaser We Rise Again. Then there was the ever popular New York, New York, and the choir finished with a vigorous rendition of When The Saints Go Marching In.
The Parr Band’s final piece was Michael Buble’s It’s a Beautiful Day.
Rossendale then returned for their last set, Sing Your Way Home, and Seize The Day, which we were informed had been named ‘Song of the Competition’ at the Cornwall International Choir Festival 2019.
Presentations were then made to the accompanists and the musical directors – most notably by Rossendale, marking the retirement of their accompanist, Michael Farnworth after 53 years.
The last item was American Trilogy, sung by both choirs, and conducted by Dan Craddock.
This capped a great evening, acknowledged by the audience with much appreciative applause.
We can now all look forward to Haydock’s next concert to be held on Saturday 28th May at St Helen’s URC. Thanks go to all those who took part as well as the organisers, and, last but by no means least, the enthusiastic and very appreciative audience!
Article by Louise Thornton
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