Toad Lane Concert: The Nightingale Singers

Date published: 12 May 2024

This joyful mixed voice choir, many of whom have been leading soloists in the area for some time, raised the roof as well as spirits at St Mary's in the Baum on Wednesday 8 May in a varied and hugely enjoyable choral feast.

Originally founded in 1987, they were amiably presented by Alyson Brailsford and their music firector of 20 years, Ken Greaves, and well supported by accompanist J Edward Rigg.

Following Morley’s charming Elizabethan madrigal, Now Is the Month of Maying, their first choral set effected the transition from traditional English to American with Simon and Garfunkel’s Scarborough Fair and The Sound of Silence, to Copland’s vigorous Ching-A-Ring Chaw.

Further poignant tones followed with When She Loved Me, California Dreamin' and Gershwin’s Summertime.

In contrast, the tenors and basses gave an hilarious and boisterous rendering of a delightfully non-PC Bold Gendarmes by Offenbach. Then more rich harmonies in Gershwin’s Our Love Is Here To Stay, and Martini’s Plaisir D'amour.

The programme was interspersed with excellent soloists: Freda Farnworth with the soprano favourite, Vilja; A duet version by Alyson Brailsford & Graham Sivills (plus guitar) of The Fields of Athenry; with Margaret Curzon’s heartfelt Some Day My Heart Will Awake by Novello; and a passionate Stars from Les Misérables by Martin McLoughlin.

The finale was a delightful up-tempo Tea for Two.

The next Nightingale concert is on Saturday 15 June at St Catherine and St John's Church, Colwyn Bay, LL29 9RG. If you would like to host a Nightingale concert, or join the choir, Ken is contactable at

The Queen’s Award-winning Toad Lane Concerts are every Wednesday at 12.30pm at St Mary in the Baum, Toad Lane, Rochdale, OL16 1DZ. Entrance fee is £6. No refreshments available. Contact 01706 648872 for further information.

To see details of forthcoming Toad Lane Concerts, click here.

Dr Joe Dawson

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