2018 Annual Concert

2018 Annual Concert

in General March 27, 2018

On Saturday 24th March the Choir had the great pleasure of staging its 85th Annual Concert in Kilmarnock’s Grand Hall. The media are never slow to tell us about the ageing population but (some might say contrary to appearances- people can be unkind sometimes!) there were no founder members onstage. What followed the choir’s introduction of themselves, in the form of Gilbert and Sullivan’s “Do You Want to Know Who We Are?” from The Mikado, with lyrics adapted by the choir’s own Jim Lawrie, was a varied programme with a wealth of contemporary music. Arrangements of Barry Manilow’s great hit “I Write the Songs” and the Righteous Brothers’ “Unchained Melody” were an indication of the modern songs to come in the evening’s programme.
Another item that I’m sure reminded many of the audience of their younger days was a medley of “hit” songs from the 1960s made up of “The House of the Rising Sun”, “Sealed With a Kiss”, “He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother”, “Pretty Flamingo”, “Silence is Golden”, “How Do You Do It?”, and “Da Doo Ron Ron”. Great stuff for an 85th birthday party, I’m sure you’ll agree. I’m certainly going to have that stuff at my 85th! ..... And dance to it too. Now there’s optimism for you.



If you are going to have a great 85th birthday party then why not have distinguished guests? As is the choir’s tradition they invited along star performers from the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland. Thomas Kinch (tenor) from Wales, Rebecca Godley (soprano) from England, accompanied on piano by Eric Garcia Alvarez from Spain gave impressive and very entertaining performances of popular operatic arias and the two by Puccini I know made at least one lady’s evening!

As is common in Aeolian concerts there was a set with a religious tone featuring two spirituals followed by a beautiful and emotive arrangement combining the traditional “We Shall Overcome” with Bill Withers’ poignant hit song “Lean On Me” featuring a solo from Neil Somerville which brought the first half to a dramatic conclusion. The “buzz” in the auditorium during the interval indicated that the audience were eager in their anticipation of the programme for the second part of the concert

The melodically romantic “I’ll Aye Ca’ In By Yon Toon” (Burns), the wistfully nostalgic “Rowan Tree” (Lady Nairne), and the dramatically evocative “Border Ballad” (Sir Walter Scott) were the choir’s fitting tribute to the canon of Scottish song although the contemporary feel of the concert soon returned with a medley of Tom Jones’s best sellers from his heyday, with Neil again opening “The Green Green Grass of Home” with a solo line, and Bill Neilson and Reg Short duetting also during this much loved song.

There were more contributions from Rebecca and Thomas to add to the variety in the second half before the powerful final set of two songs, “Stout-Hearted Men” and “The Warriors”, paying tribute to soldiers. To end this “party” required something special and this came in the form of Joseph Martin’s “The Awakening” , a modern ‘classic’ piece emotively celebrating waking from a world without music to culminate with a ‘choral fanfare’. The message in the final lines, “Let Music Live”, is very much the choir’s raison d’etre and as one we owe a tremendous debt to Alex Ferguson and David Walker for their patient and good-humoured tutelage and guidance towards the pinnacle of our season.



President Derek Mackay thanked all who contributed, not least John Goodwin for his compering of the entire evening. The atmosphere as the audience left the hall was all the reward the choir needed!

Reg Short