REVIEW: Music and Song, North Walsham Atrium

On paper it looked an intriguing and adventurous bill – in reality it proved to be a thoroughly entertaining evening – and hopefully the first of many musical firsts at north Norfolk's newest community arts centre.

Choir Worstead is part of the growing grass-roots movement to simply get together and sing – with many inspired by TV's choirmaster-general Gareth Malone.

The mixed choir was started by mums at Worstead Primary School so it was appropriate that this concert included some of their offspring for a few songs.

Children, parents and grandparents all put their hearts and souls into what proved to be a successful mix of folksongs (She Moved Through the Fair, Wild Mountain Thyme, Scarborough Fair), Pastime With Good Company (credited to Henry VIII), and others including the TV Military Wives signature ballad Wherever You Are.

Especially entertaining was a selection of modern Norfolk songs, specially adapted for the choir by composer Tony Bailey, including Baker Jack and Saucy Sue – with male members of the choir donning woolly hats.

The choir was expertly directed by Beverley Downes, and her son – up and coming jazz star Kit Downes – provided some sensitive and sometimes improvisational piano accompaniment, after just one previous rehearsal with the 20-strong group.

In stark musical contrast Kit was joined by Seb Rochford for a number of piano and percussion free-form jazz instrumentals – many of them improvised.

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The duo played with sympathetic precision and good humour and won over many in the audience unused to modern jazz.

To end the evening the choir returned for a few more songs, plus encores, this time accompanied by both Kit and Seb.

Anyone interested in joining Choir Worstead should contact 01692 538941.

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