Choral Spice Hackney Singers and friends at the Hackney Empire

“The opening chord of Zadok was wonderful to hear – worth the ticket money alone”

“It was fantastic to have the different styles in one evening. I’m Hackney born and bred, and that diversity is why I love Hackney.”

“The audience really responded to the choir and to the other singers. The Hackney Empire atmosphere was really special, very lively, even more so than our usual crowd.”

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A concert of choral singing from different groups and different traditions filled the Hackney Empire last Thursday evening, in one of the Spice Festival highlights. Classical choral singing spanning four centuries, songs from Eastern Europe, South Africa, and in the American barbershop tradition, and gospel singing, provided a taste of many flavours of vocal music.

The Hackney Singers began the evening with the rousing ‘Zadok The Priest’  by Handel and ended it with Michael Tippett’s five spirituals from A Child of Our Time. In between the audience was treated to a rousing session from the Ministers of Purpose and the Community College Choir gospel singers, and a fascinating selection of mainly Eastern European songs from the Wing-It Singers.

Dan Ludford Thomas, who conducted the Hackney Singers in the concert, was very pleased:  “The audience really responded to the choir and to the other singers. The Hackney Empire atmosphere was really special, very lively, even more so than our usual crowd.” photos: Imogen Radford

Hackney Singers and friends presented Choral Spice at the Hackney Empire at 8 pm on Thursday 14th July

The Hackney Singers conducted by Dan Ludford-Thomas, with soloist Elizabeth Franklin-Kitchen, and pianist Ben Saul were joined by the Wing-it Singers world music choir, the Ministers of Purpose Gospel Group, and the Community College Choir for an evening full of excitement and contrasts including music by Brahms, Fauré, Handel, Haydn, Mozart, Tavener, Tippet, Verdi and more……

When leader and conductor of the Ministers of Purpose and of the Community College Choir Andrea Robinson dedicated the performance of ‘Reach out and touch somebody’s hand to make this world a better place’ to the memory of those who died in London the previous Thursday, the audience all stood to sing along, many brushing tears from their eyes.

The voice of soloist Annette Francis rang out, and with the combined strength of over a hundred singers and an audience of hundreds, the Empire shook to the rafters.

A few minutes later you could hear a pin drop as seven-year-old Courtney Carr sang a solo: ‘I know that I can make it’.

Andrea Robinson, said that she had a lovely time. “I was especially proud of my college students some of whom have only been singing for 10 weeks. And my niece Courtney, who is only seven, enjoyed doing her solo.”

Shean Roberts, who accompanied the Ministers of Purpose on the piano, said: “It was fantastic to have the different styles in one evening. I’m Hackney born and bred, and that diversity is why I love Hackney.”

Sally Davies, leader of the Wing-It singers, was delighted with the feedback they got from audience members after the show. “It was all the more meaningful because it was from people we did not know and who had not specifically come to hear our part of the programme.”

“More than one choir member reported that as they walked home or waited at the bus stop, people leaned out of car windows to call ‘We loved your singing!’ Someone on my bus stopped by my seat to congratulate us. Other comments included people saying: ‘Your choir was marvellous. I wanted you to go on and on’; ‘What a fantastic sound. And all off by heart!’; ‘Your Romanian pronunciation was faultless!’.

The fact that we were asked to do this gig is a legacy of having been involved in the community opera ‘On London Fields’ which has yielded so many good things. We particularly enjoy being part of Hackney’s diverse artistic community.”