Allowing ordinary singers to do extraordinary things!

The Rivertones appear at All Saints Church, Sidmouth (Contributed review)

Sidmouth Residents were treated to a splendid evening of male singing on Saturday 15th September at All Saints Church.

The evening, organised by Sidmouth Rotarians, featured The Rivertones Harmony Chorus from Taunton as the main act. This chorus specialises in a cappella close harmony singing, barbershop style. A group of 24 men produced some beautifully blended harmonies under the expert leadership of their Musical Director, Peter Gover. Peter explained that the chorus we were hearing were just part of the whole chorus of 50 – 60 men, many of whom had never sung before joining Rivertones – amazing!

The capacity audience of over 200 enjoyed a varied programme of songs to listen to plus some requiring audience participation. The whole programme was delivered without any written music by either the singers or the director, all had been learnt by memory.

There were many highlights in the performance. One was when Peter explained the different sections of a barbershop chorus and how these are put together to produce the unique close harmony sound. For many in the audience, barbershop singing was new and this explanation added to the experience. Another highlight was their rendition of “Brother, can you spare a dime?” This piece is quite new to the chorus and yet they gave a polished performance. Written about the 1929 Great Depression in the USA, the piece started with a spoken narration giving the background to the song and the sensitively setting the scene. The chorus continued the sensitivity in a powerful rendition of the piece which was full of contrasts and emotion. At the end, you could have heard a pin drop. The capacity audience were transfixed.

The Rivertones Chorus were ably supported in the programme by the singing of John Burgoyne. The solo singer with a beautiful tenor voice sang a range of songs from classical musicals, very expertly accompanied by Dorothy Worthington.

An altogether great evening of male singing!

(The event was held to raise funds for the Rotary Club of Sidmouth’s Community Services Fund.)