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Review: GALS Love and Marriage

Thu 11 Jul 2013 In: Performance View at NDHA

GALS: Celebration of Love and MarriageWestern Springs College, Auckland Conductors: Stephen Bowness and Margaret Robertson July 6, 2013 Soloist Margaret Robertson backed by GALS Celebrating Love and Marriage with gusto, the weekend's GALS concert was spot on, and not just because of the topical subject. Everything seemed to come together, traditional strengths were built on and weaknesses minimised from the moment the choir filed, couple by couple, into the hall, passing through a deliciously cheesy white wrought-iron and flouro-pink tulle arch. The selection of love and marriage songs was remarkably varied and mostly well within the choir's capabilities, and where they stretched things a bit we knew they were pushing themselves to achieve more and loved them for it. Underscoring the vocal excellence was a significant increase in numbers performing. Most of the choir's stalwarts were on stage and thirteen new, and mostly young-ish, members bulked things out. At this size GALS became a fully-fledged choir, not just a group of singers as it has sometimes been in the past. The numbers added depth and richness to the singing, especially evident in the a-capella numbers. From Hello Young Lovers to Your New Stupid Boyfriend to The Winner Takes it All, with diversions into African harmonies, a truncated Hallelujah Chorus and the frangipani-scented Isa Lei the choir served up treat after treat. The absolute standout of the night came when co-conductor Margaret Robertson took the soloist spot for She Moved Through The Fair. With a confident and richly harmonic choir behind her Robertson sang with supreme confidence and resonant, pitch-perfect beauty. The cheers she received were well-deserved. MC David Steemson and Marriage Equality MP Louisa Wall But there were lots of highlights, with solo performances ranging from brief inserts to full-length songs and all were well-chosen to showcase individual performers strengths and even capitalise on their weaknesses. Brash to the verge of gauchness, long-time MC David Steemson, under-utilised in recent years, was 100% back, inserting himself between the choir and the capacity audience but always linking the two with warmth and slick, cheeky charm. The humorous numbers were entertaining and if there were fewer heavy or classical moments than usual in this concert it was to the Love and Marriage theme's benefit. Even the choice of a couple of songs more usually associated with separation and divorce (eg. The Winner Takes It All) didn't seem too strange. Special mention must be made of a sub-group of women members of GALS, calling themselves The Project, who tackled some more varied and difficult to pull off numbers. Blue Bayou was a tad insipid but the gospel song Up Above My Head was tight, crisp and melodious. And if you thought a group of mostly middle-aged white women couldn't pull off a traditional rhythmic Zulu song of love, think again. This was excellent stuff, determinedly pushing the boundaries of their experience. The presence of lesbian MP Louisa Wall to join in the musical celebration of the Marriage Equality law change she ushered through Parliament added a little backbone and gravitas to the evening and the excellent choral-friendly acoustics of the plain old school hall showed that this is a natural home for GALS performances. Well done GALS! - Jay Bennie Jay Bennie - 11th July 2013    

Credit: Jay Bennie

First published: Thursday, 11th July 2013 - 12:01pm

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