Review: Portsmouth Military Wives Choir, Portsmouth Cathedral

The Portsmouth Military Wives Choir  at Portsmouth Cathedral.'''Picture: Allan Hutchings (131802-369)
The Portsmouth Military Wives Choir at Portsmouth Cathedral.'''Picture: Allan Hutchings (131802-369)
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Inspirational: (adjective) Providing or showing creative or spiritual inspiration. So the Oxford English Dictionary defines a word that perfectly encapsulates the performance by the Portsmouth Military Wives Choir at the city’s Anglican Cathedral.

Applause rang out from the large audience as the women entertained with an eclectic mix of old and new.

Listening to their voices soaring to the roof of the cathedral, it was easy to forget that they have been singing together for less than two years.

Hard too to remember that they are not professionals. Perhaps a few fits of giggles gave clue to that, though in the best possible way.

Warmly appreciated by the audience, the occasional on-stage hysterics at an innuendo or the apparent disappearance of accompanist Lyndon Ford inside the cathedral organ seemed somehow to emphasise that these are ‘ordinary’ wives and partners.

Actually, both individually and collectively, they are nothing short of extraordinary.

The cohesion, unity and teamwork they show is making music is matched by a spirit away from the concert hall and rehearsal room that, as musical director Ben Charles reminded us, gives them strength through thick and thin.

At Portsmouth Cathedral, the military wives took us through the range of emotions, from the sombre Eternal Father through the stirring Rule Britannia to the jaunty It’s a Long Way to Tipperary.

The latter, sung in a round with Pack Up Your Troubles, provided one of a number of opportunities during the evening for the audience to sing along.

But, much as we tried, our efforts fell somewhat short of the beautiful sound of 50 or so women in full song.

It was good to hear that the choir - members of which have appeared at the Festival of Remembrance at the Royal Albert Hall, the Dambusters 70th anniversary concert and on Radio 2’s Friday Night is Music Night - are now planning to concentrate adding more local events to their schedule.

As during their Vera Lynn medley they sang We’ll Meet Again, surely everyone in the audience was hoping just that of a simply inspirational choir.

Click here for a video of the choir singing Eternal Father during their performance at Portsmouth Cathedral