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Review: Inspiration Choir at Sage Gateshead

Rob Barnes caught the Inspiration Choir at the Sage Gateshead as the venue celebrated its 10th birthday

****
Crowds enjoyed the Tenth Birthday celebrations of the Sage

It wouldn’t be Christmas at the Sage without this annual event and the organisers of the venue’s 10th birthday party ensured the crowd-pulling choir was at the heart of the family day celebrations with two concerts.

The stage was extended to accommodate 300 singers and orchestra and they provided a joyful wall of sound , mixing traditional with gospel. A sprinkling of fairy dust came with an excellent medley from Disney’s Frozen.

The run-up didn’t go as planned with music director and conductor Gary Griffiths having to pull out, but assistant Mark Deeks filled the conducting breach with the excellent Jenny Martins taking over his piano accompaniment role.

The performers opened strongly with David Hamilton’s uplifting Sing Gloria and maintained the high standard through nearly two hours of performing from memory.

The upbeat arrangements of traditional carols worked very well, with some inventive harmonies and orchestration giving familiar music a new lease of life.

The Frozen medley was the showstopper, finishing with Let It Go, all beautifully rendered and exemplifying everything that the Inspiration Choir stands for in terms of choice of music and performance standards.

There were also fine solo spots from Suzanne Williams, with I Believe, and from Sara Morgan who was joined by the choir for Faith Hill’s A Baby Changes Everything.

Royal Northern Sinfonia played their part, obviously enjoying a break from another busy week of classical repertoire.

BBC North’s Charlie Charlton, with her soothing and familiar voice, acted as the perfect compère and purveyor of Christmas trivia and, in keeping with tradition, the experienced British Sign Language practitioner Cliff Lee stood to the side of the stage interpreting the music.

All perfect Christmas fare in keeping with a great week of celebration.

Rob Barnes

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