Hawick choir celebrates its 80th birthday with a star-studded bash

Hawick PSA Choir celebrate their 80th birthday
Hawick PSA Choir celebrate their 80th birthday
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THE Hawick PSA Male Voice Choir celebrated their 80th birthday with a concert in front of a large and appreciative audience.

The choir under musical director Ann Witherington and accompanist Lyndon Warburton had two top-line soloists with them for this special concert, and the Hawick audience gave them a great welcome.

Alexandra McFadzen, a superb mezzo soprano is destined for greatness, and her powerful yet controlled voice is reminiscent of the Welsh singer Katherine Jenkins.

She studied classical music at Stevenson College in Edinburgh before moving to the Royal Academy of Music and Drama in Glasgow. Her most recent highlights include singing with the Glasgow Symphony Orchestra and working with Scottish Opera.

Steve Brown, baritone, is a home-grown talent having been brought up in Peeblesshire as a member of a musical family.

Steve has been singing since he was a boy and most recently he has sung with Hawick Amateur Operatic Society where he took the lead in shows such as Carousel, Fiddler on the Roof and South Pacific.

The choir, 28 strong, started this year’s concert with the spiritual Ezekiel saw the Wheel, before moving on to the Second World War with a selection entitled Remember the Days which had the audience joining in with songs such as the White Cliffs of Dover and We’ll Meet Again.

Three prayers followed, starting with Donald O’Keefe’s At the End of the Day, then Sunset Poem by Dylan Thomas from Under Milkwood, and ending with Prayer in the Twilight by Harry Dexter.

The first half of the concert, which had a total of six solos from the guests, ended with two songs from 20th-century musicals, Get Me to the Church from My Fair Lady and the title song from Camelot.

Steve Brown led the choir in the rumbustious brass band march La Reve Passe before Alex delighted with an aria from Puccini and Steve gave us Higher than a Hawk from Calamity Jane. Later the two delighted the audience with People Will Say We’re in Love from Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Oklahoma.

The Everley Brothers featured next from the choir with Let it Be Me before Geoff Ross sang Down by the Sally Gardens.

Three little lambs also came into the occasion with the Wiffenpoof Song and Cool Water arranged by Ann Witherington almost brought the evening to a close.

Almost, but not quite, as the choir had not one, but two classics, up their combined sleeves.

Nessun Dorma, again by Puccini, was followed by that great Wesleyan hymn Blaenwern with everyone joining in to almost have the plaster on the ceiling of Teviot Church flaking on the audience.

A great night of musical talent and a great night for Hawick from the PSA Male Voice Choir on this its 80th birthday – and incidentally, the only PSA choir still left in the United Kingdom.

We should make more use of them in Hawick and the Borders; if they were nearer Edinburgh I am sure they would figure in the festival year after year.