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The Ashburton Glee and Madrigal Society, which was formed some nine months ago, gave its first performance in the Theatre Royal last evening before a large audience, Mr Sidney Williamson, D.R.C.M.L., of Christchurch, condiicting. The Society as at present constituted is very badly balanced, and in spite of the addition of several gentlemen from Christchurch, the tenors and basses were in many instances completely overshadowed by the ladies' voices. This defect, which was particularly noticeable in Cooke's "Strike the Lyre" can only be remedied by the addition of many more men's voices and until this is done the singing of the Society will continue to lack that fulness of tone so essential in this class of music. In the male part song "Softly Dream," the first tenor part was taken by the altos, and in explaining this to the audience, Mr Williamson took the opportunity of appealing for more ! men's voices for the Society; It is hoped that his appeal will not fall on deaf ears and that for their next concert there will be sufficient tenors and basses to enable the Society to dispense with -the assistance of the outside gentlemen, excellent as it no doubt was. There is also a great deal of room for improvement in the enunciation of the Society as a whole. Even those who sat about the centre of the hall had' great difficulty in hearing, the words in the various part songs. A' song or part song is only a story set to music and it matters little how beautiful the music or how finely it is sung, if the words are unintelligible to the audience; last evening half the value, of the' performance was lost. A little attention to this point would effect a great improvement in this important' matter and would thereby add greatly to the enjoyment of the audience. The ypious numbers by the Society were given in an artistic manner, the light and shade being particularly effective. The attack was also good, with the exception of that on two occasions some of the basses anticipated the beat. The "pianissimo" effect was overdone, and that this accounted for the somewhat monotonous nature of the performance at times. An example of this was to be seen in the male part song "Softly Dream," which, while sung with pleasing effect the first time bercame positively lugubrious when repeated as an encore. H. Elliott Burton's arrangement of the, old English song "Drink to me only with thine Eyes," was very well sung, and in spite of the fact that one tenor voice persisted ■in singing a wrong note in one place, this number was the Society's best effort during the evening. Perhaps its beauty was enhanced by the trashy arrangement of "The Hundred Pipers," with which it was bracketed. In response to vociferous applause this number was inflicted on the audience a second time. The ladies were also very successful in their part spng "The oars are plashing." Miss.Ethel Johnson, of Christchurch, who, we think, appeared before an Ashburton audience for the first time, has a contralto voice of pleasing quality. In her first song, "The Almighty" (Schubert), she did not appear t6 be at'"tease,' and her v intonation in consequence became rather faulty towards the end of the song. In response I to a somewhat belated encore, she sarig tastefully "Lift up Thine Eyes." Later m the programme she sang successfully "I've been Roaming" and "Cherry Ripe," and again had to respond to an encore. Mr Sidney Williamson is no stranger to Ashburton audiences, and his singing last evening wa's up to his usual light standard. His numbers were "A December Night" (Leoncavallo) and "The Little Dustman" (Brahms). He also had to respond to an encore. Mr Williamson's singing is without doubt very artistic, but no apology is needed for calling his and Miss Johnson's attention to'the previous remarks re enunciation. Miss Johnson and Mr. Williamson also sang "Chaminade's" beautiful '''Nocturne" as a duet, and in response to' a well-deserved encore, . "Oh that we two were Misses Johnson, Harris, Glover, and Graham, of Christchurch sang, Sullivan's "Lost Chord" as a quartette. If there were any , dearth of good music arranged in four parts for ladies' voices, there might be some excuse. ; for bringing out this old'"has been," but some think it time it was lost and forgotten. Later in the evening they sang "Last Night" (Kjerult), and a setting of the "Blue Bells of Scotland." While thenintonation was not always faultless, their singing, was nevertheless very pleasing and creditable. Miss Gladys Galbraith acted as accompaniste in an able and satisfactory manner.

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Bibliographic details

GLEE AND MADRIGAL CLUB'S CONCERT., Ashburton Guardian, Volume XXXIX, Issue 9578, 4 April 1919

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GLEE AND MADRIGAL CLUB'S CONCERT. Ashburton Guardian, Volume XXXIX, Issue 9578, 4 April 1919