UK Gospel Hits High Note at First Ever BBC Gospel Proms
Congratulations to Andrea Encinas, Creative Director of British GospelArts Ltd, who curated the first ever BBC Gospel Proms – delivered last night to an audience at the Royal Albert hall last night (Tuesday 16th June, 2013) – reportedly more than usual for a Late Night Prom!
The programme devised by Encinas combined a collection of choral greats – The London Adventist Chorale, The London Community Gospel Choir, The People’s Christian Fellowship Choir and Muyiwa & Riversongz – with a tight hand-picked rhythm section led by Music Director Ayo Oyerinde. A combined selection of community and university based Gospel choirs gave additional support to the mass wall of sound that reverberated around the great Hall built in 1871.
Over twenty songs filled the 80 minutes dedicated to the live broadcast (on BBC Radio 3). Host Presenter Dave Daniel (Pastor, Artist) was a charming and enjoyable host who helped to create a warm and inclusive atmosphere amongst the estimated 3,000 member audience. The ‘evolution of British Gospel’ began with a beautiful accapella rendition of Spirituals (London Adventist Chorale ably led by conductor Ken Burton) and moved into a further selection with everyone participating over Dave Daniel’s rich baritone voice. We were then treated to a choice of great hymns (People’s Christian Fellowship Choir) led by the smooth silky tones of vocalist Carla Ellington and immediately followed by a medley of old time Caribbean Choruses with Juliet Fletcher as the song leader and the brilliant Ruth Waldron conducting every mass choir rendition.
The programme switched to a 4-song selection of Traditional American Gospel classics written by composers who made them popular in the 1980s to present day. Vocalists included Annette Bowen, Michelle Ndegwa, and Maria Martin.
As we reached the mid-point the audience was treated to a stretch of original British Contemporary Gospel Songs (led by Stephanie Oyerinde and Geneta Crooke) and African Praise Songs which had everyone searching for hankies to twirl above their heads as Muyiwa Olarewaju & Riversongz and Aaron T Aaron turned up the heat on a very ‘hot gospel night’. Mark Beswick and Bazil Meade ended the evening with a well chosen selection of Inspirational original composition which kept us on our feet with a reprise of funky, footstompin’ uplifting words that sent us all home on a high note.
There is no doubt that the breadth, depth and high quality of UK Gospel was properly represented on this – the World’s biggest Classical Music Festival – stage where the eclectic contribution of our finest was not only heard – but experienced.