VOCES8 at Portsmouth Anglican Cathedral

Youngsters queue at the Kings to audition for a previous production, Cinderella

Panto auditions for young dancers to be held at Kings Theatre

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It is a common perception that classical musicians are boring and po-faced. Common but wrong, as all who attended the Portsmouth Festivities concert by a cappella choir VOCES8 will surely testify.

Yes, the eight young adult singers were serious when they needed to be, but they were as comfortable in a James Bond medley, an operatic send-up, and a fun version of I Got Rhythm with novel physical effects, as they were in sacred pieces from the 17th and 18th centuries.

And at both extremes of their range, they exhibited the same fine qualities of blend, balance and accuracy.

Highlights were wide-ranging, from a thrilling polyphonic climax by Palestrina to a ‘hot under the collar’ Fever and from a spiritual Steal Away To Jesus to an arrangement of Maria from West Side Story.

Spoken introductions were entertaining. Who could resist the tale of the response of Chichester Cathedral organist Thomas Weelkes to his sacking for drunkenness? Suffice it to say that liquid taken into the body has to be ejected somewhere...

MIKE ALLEN