60 Years Of The Silver Ring Choir – A Beautiful Review

This is a beautiful review written by Stephanie Wolfe, aka @magicpotion on twitter. Thank you Stephanie for sharing such a wonderful review, full of audio delights with us all 🙂

When it was first announced, back in January, “60 years of Song for the Silver Ring Choir of Bath with special guest appearance Jamie Cullum”, I didn’t really know what to expect, apart from that, in a round about way, it would be something special, something different. I had no idea then it would be such a personal statement, such a moving occasion.

We booked the tickets, then I was worried, because the whole idea of listening for some time to a choir was a bit daunting, definitely not something I had willingly ever planned  to spend a whole evening doing. Also, I couldn’t quite work out how the Choir and Jamie could possibly connect, and what those who would go to listen to the Choir would make of Jamie……So over the months of waiting, I was looking forward to an evening of, well, to be honest, I had no idea what…

Bath Forum, where the special concert was held, in itself is a beautiful place. It is a prominent building, arching at the corner of an area of Bath where every second bar, café or venue offered chalk boards outside on the pavements, inviting you to  a  “night of jazz”, I was smiling to myself, what a fitting area for this. The streets were buzzing with people.

The doors had just opened,  people from all directions, many very elegantly dressed, were steaming in. The foyer was full of smiling staff, wines & drinks to  buy, all very friendly and welcoming. The moment we walked up those steps and into the Forum I felt like being part of a big family, it was then that I realised I was in for a very special evening.

Souvenir Programme

We took our seats in a packed auditorium, I think there must have been well over 1200 people there, we watched the  Silver Ring Choir (over 70 people strong ) taking up  their positions on stage. The Choir looked assertive, confident and strong, I could feel their togetherness as a unit. It was quite a spectacular sight to see so many bodies on stage forming a gentle crescent round the awaiting instruments

The Silver Ring Choir was formed in 1951, thanks to the now veteran Kelvin Thomas MBE, who had the idea of encouraging whoever he could find to join him to form a singing group. Kelvin himself was there,  keeping a watchful eye on the stage and beaming with happiness and pride for his choir.

Order Of The First Part Of The Evening

The Choir opened with “Festival Sanctus” a moving piece, beautifully sang under the guidance of Ruth McKibbin, their conductor. The Sopranos, Altos, Tenors and Basses obeyed   harmoniously to the busy hands of Ruth’s tireless directions. The Choir moved swiftly through a programme of beautifully sung pieces, at one point Ruth McKibbin herself became the soloist, singing “Laudate Dominum “impressively. What a solo she gave!!!

During “Masquerade”, by Lloyd Webber, the entire Choir wore different face masks which was a very amusing and it worked well with the upbeat tempo. .The final piece of the Silver Ring Choir was “Siahumba” which again was sensitively directed and beautifully sung, and very moving too, during which the entire Choir marched off, one by one, through the auditorium, leading us to the bar (or maybe they wanted to get there first, lol)

One very special member of the Silver Ring Choir is Yvonne Cullum. Yvonne was there, next to her fellow choristers, standing to the side of the still empty grand piano. For her it must have been an even more special night than it was for us, because both, Jamie and Ben had written a special song for this occasion for her choir. The song “SILVER” would be performed live for the first time at the end of this evening….. What must have gone through her mind as people moved off to catch up with some drinks during the interval …..

Ali Vowles, BBC presenter for radio Bristol who hosted the show, introduced Jamie as soon as people settled back into their seats. Jamie came on stage full of energy, he settled at the grand piano. “I get a kick out of you” was his opening piece. You can hear it HERE & HERE

“I get a kick out of you” did not keep him on his stool for long though, he jumped up to feel every muscle in his body move, the audience was almost stunned at first, by such energy coming from the stage.  Yes, Jamie was in top form, “I’m all over it” was next.  He performed it in his usual comical style, much to the delight of the audience who by now had realized that he was more than ready to share his energy !!!  At one point, in the middle of the song, he stopped for a few seconds to pipe I’m,… I’m ,…. I’m all …over .it now “ huskily, you may listen to this HERE & HERE

On the last notes of his interpretation of his song, he jumped up ,thanked the choir grabbed the mic, rolled up his sleeves in his very Jamie sort of way, and said “please don’t be shy , I assure you I’m not ..” followed by a very  moving speech about why he loves making music, what music means and  how much he appreciates what the Silver Choir aims to achieve you can listen to it HERE

Jamie also talked about the birth of Lyra, “….more difficult for the other person in the equation than it was for me” he joked , “this is the first time I have been out of the house- and it’s all very surreal to see other human beings …” and he told us about the lullaby he found for Lyra . You can listen to the full chat & then hear the lullaby played by Jamie HERE I think I would love to have this played to me every night too !

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The awesome thing about a Jamie gig is that you never hear, the same version twice, and, though I’m sure everything is highly rehearsed, he always makes you feel that it is all ad lib and just a fun jamming session, I am convinced he stretches & varies his songs whichever mood he is ! “Don’t stop the music “ was just awesome, listen to it HERE

Jamie paid a moving tribute to his brother Ben. He described to us in his “Jamie way”, almost squatting and pulling great faces, how difficult it had  been writing and testing all the different parts for the choir during the composition of “Silver”, the song we would hear at the end of the evening. Jamie invited Ben up on stage and together they sang “These are the days” you can listen to this HERE & HERE

Jamie was unstoppable during  “Twenty something”, right from the beginning he was dancing with the mic, never stopping, shaking his body to the rhythms during the awesome instrumental middle where Rory Simmons gave a beautiful solo.  Jamie  picked up some sticks and joined in with the percussions. It was here where Jamie shortly after, pushing his stool into position for the assault, aimed a  long jump over his stool to the sounds of the drums, his mum must have looked quite amused ! Jamie also changed some words around which was very funny to hear,(most people would not have noticed !) you can spot it HERE & HERE

As always nothing can stop Jamie, straight after “Twenty something” he picked up the mic and marched down the stairs and into  the audience, his band in tow: “…now if you’re one of those people sitting up there “ pointing to the dress circle, “you can either abseil down or just  like run to the front, come down here, do whatever you want, cause if you all come at once they can’t stop you …” Not many dared to, we thought, great Jamie, jumped out of our seats and did just that, sitting down almost by his feet. The girls who had sold the programmes and CDs earlier were also there, on the other side, dancing”  to “Caravan” (a jazz standard from the 30s composed by Julian Tizol)  which again had fantastic solos from each member of his band: Tom Richards , Rory Simmons, Chris Hale & Brian Webb. Jamie, now with his hands on the lose, was shaking his body , dancing to the rhythms, and singing in a  beautiful jazzy voice. You can listen to it HERE & HERE

Wind cries Mary” was the last song Jamie and his band performed before “Silver”. It was another chance for his band to give stunning solos, I had never imagined that  Rory would pick up so many instruments in just one session,  it was here that Jamie introduced and thanked his band, climbed onto his piano and jumped up high in the air, and onto the ground listen to it HERE

Finally Jamie, out of breath from all his singing, dancing & jumping, settled back at the grand piano and introduced and paid tribute to  the song everyone had been waiting for : “ …and I am very proud now to play it for you, it is called Silver “…omg, What an emotional moment,  Silver sounded beautiful !!!!!

And how this song worked !!! The two very different components, melting together, to produce such beautiful and moving harmonies .Silver sounded amazing, its complicated arrangement was beautifully sung and affectionately accompanied by Jamie. I loved his pure and strong voice and  how  the Silver Ring Coir complimented it with its array of voices. You can hear “SILVER” HERE & HERE

It was the most beautiful moment of the evening to watch how Jamie, the Choir and Ben had fused together to create such a touching performance of the song:

Silver (written by Ben & Jamie Cullum) Choral arrangements Adam Biggs

Silver like a thread
Tying us to memories that we keep inside our head
Silver like a stream
Thumbing down a mountain like a half forgotten dream
And after all this time
All your love is mine and ever like the colour silver
We shine
We’re sitting by the road, watching cars go by
They bear a heavy load
And we’re remembering those that we’ve left behind
With nothing but smiles
For the ties that bind keep us standing here
Our singing echoes through the years, it’s …’

See the gathering of hands circling the world, and footprints in the sand,
Cos there’s no room for lies or a heavy heart
As everyone here comes to play their part, it’s not a time for tears….

This sound will echo through the years, it’s….’

The evening ended with many tributes and thanks paid to the various members who had made it all possible, Jamie wished everyone a “Merry Christmas” and there were floral tributes, even one for Jamie “for the ladies indoors”, he accepted them sheepishly and courteously withdrew to let the Silver Ring Choir celebrate it’s 60th anniversary with all it’s friends who had come to watch. You can follow this HERE.

What a night it had been, I am soo happy I was part of this very moving night!!

Photo Of The Special Signed CD




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