(The following are press reports dating from 2005 and earlier; for more recent reports, see the headings on the right of this page)
"KCS in a triumph of blazing conviction...
However much Kidderminster Choral Society paid out in presenting Saturday's concert, the members can rest content that this was money well spent, resulting in probably one of the greatest events in the Society's long and proud history.
Even for as devoted an Elgarian as me, The Kingdom, the composer's last oratorio and the second part of a projected trilogy, which had begun with The Apostles, has always been problematical. One gets the sense that by the time Elgar had struggled with compiling and completing his own referential libretto he had scarcely any energy left to pour the blood of life into his music, with the result that much of the score seems to lack blazing conviction.
Yet that was precisely the missing quality supplied by this searing performance under Geoffrey Weaver, a conductor of inspirational gifts and shrewd musical insights. Tempo after tempo was set with exactly the right feel for pulse, phrases were shaped with a natural sense of flow, and, despite depleted numbers in some sections, his choir sang with a deep richness of tone and communicative projection. Their awestruck intensity as they began the concluding "Our Father" will not easily be forgotten.
Four fine soloists brought Elgar's New Testament characters to life, with Elena Ferrari delivering a deeply moving "The sun goeth down", and Quentin Hayes as Peter almost persuading us to accept Elgar's maudlin melodic swoop at virtually every setting of the words "in the name of Jesus Christ".
The contribution of the Elgar Sinfonia would have been stunning in any event, but on only three hours rehearsal it was nothing short of miraculous.
Christopher Morley (November 2003)
On 21 March 2003, I spent an enjoyable evening listening to the Wyre Forest Young Voices (ages 10-18), and their junior choir, Primary Chords (ages 5-9). Primary Chords was granted support from Making Music's Tuned In fund.
These two groups are meant to be 'feeder' groups into the Kidderminster Choral Society. The vitality of the music making is obvious, and the strength of these different groups is a wonderful model for involving young people at every stage. These young people showed maturity and musicality, and a great interest that is so important to the future of music making The programme was entitled A Night on Broadway and showed off solo and ensemble, as well as some instrumental numbers. The Primary Chords offered some numbers from Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat which they will perform in full this July.
The evening was generously supported by the Swan Centre in Kidderminster, and many important people were there; those we lovingly call the 'chain gang' (the mayors) attended, and even an M.P. and his family came. It was clear that all of these dignitaries were not just there because of their positions, but because they wholeheartedly support the programme.
I was impressed with the way the young people handled the various pressures. Some sang solos and acted. In between, the other singers sat perfectly still on stage. During the interval and reception which followed, the young people served refreshments and chatted graciously with attendees. Many showed promise, and discussed plans to continue with music or music theatre.
Geoffrey Weaver, conductor, and the Kidderminster Choral Society have obviously supported this tremendous involvement of young people. Weaver is enormously energetic, and manages to enthuse young singers while doing the great classics with the larger (140 member) group, the Kidderminster Choral Society. Weaver also gives credit to Carol Hill, who runs the Primary Chords. While much of what they sing is unison, a surprising amount is not, and while the very youngest are entertaining to watch, one can observe how they quickly learn the discipline that music requires. Wyre Forest Young Voices do not hold auditions, yet they perform to an admirable standard, most notably with the Sainsbury's Choir competition. Many singers spent time in the Primary Chords, and many may go on to the Kidderminster Choral Society or choirs wherever they end up living.
Micaela Schmitz (March, 2003)
"Concert of the Season" - The most remarkable concert of the season came from WYRE FOREST YOUNG VOICES on 2nd April when a Glamorous Nights programme entertained and astonished a packed audience at Kidderminster Town Hall. There were 50 singers on stage and these were complemented by 30 from the recently formed 5 to 9 year-olds choir, Primary Chords.
Kidderminster Choral Society director, Geoffrey Weaver, is the conductor, and with his back-up team of Ula Weber, Michael Elden, Carol Hill and Nicci Lane, provides the training and musical framework to teach these young singers the innumerable skills needed to make them accomplished at their craft. Russell Painter, an ex-member of the choir who is at the Guildhall School of Music, was tenor soloist in the concert and his stylish performances gave a wonderful example for the current choir members to emulate. He was joined by Elisabeth Witts and Laura Bassett in duets from The Mikado and Carmen and even sang the testing Flower Song with style. WFYV were spirited participants in the Gypsies Chorus as well as shining in a succession of excerpts from well-known musicals.
Primary Chords had their moments of glory too, showing disciplined stage presence and singing with clarity and a nice forward tone. This is an amazing success story and if only it could be reproduced in a fraction of our eighty choral societies the wider benefits would soon take effect. But it needs vision, perseverance and the right personnel to give a long-term commitment.
When talking to Ray Harrowing recently about the choir he recounted that in 1999 there were only 13 singers for the Christmas concert and Geoffrey Weaver announced that the choir would close unless more members were found. Several of the choir took up the challenge, created publicity waves by getting on to Classic FM, stirred up their schools and the new recruits were found. It has not been plain sailing since then - it never is - but this concert showed that things are going very well. A tour to Poland is planned for this autumn - only £13,500 needs to be raised! - and there are all sorts of exciting plans in the pipeline. Who said choral singing was dying ??!!
Jim Page (May 2004)
March Medley was the title of the programme for Wyre Forest Young Voices in March and as on my previous visit I was impressed by the enthusiasm of the singers, the dedication of their coaches and the support of parents, who virtually filled Kidderminster Town Hall. The programme was a very varied one but Geoffrey Weaver was adept at steering his young charges through the many styles expected of them.
WFYV's younger counterparts, Primary Chords, had two slots in the evening, and the standard, enthusiasm and discipline that Carol Hill obtained from these very young singers gained our total admiration. It was a very long evening however, and I do wonder if some gentle pruning might not have made it less taxing for all concerned.
Jim Page (May 2005)