Tuesday, 16 July 2013

The Bermondsey Review: The Great Salmon Choir Sing-Off

Bermondsey vs Jesus College Cambridge: Who wins?

On a more than balmy Sunday afternoon, Cambridge University met Bermondsey's Salmon Youth Centre for the fight of their lives.  The gloves were off and the stage was set for this summer's Great Salmon Choir Sing-Off.

In the blue corner, the choir of Jesus College Cambridge, fresh from a year's academic study at one of the world's most renowned universities.   And, in the red corner, the finest selection of Bermondsey choirs: the Rotherhithe and Bermondsey Choral Society (RBCS) and Grace to Grace International Centre's 'De-Harmony'.
Rotherhithe and Bermondsey Choral Society
RBCS threw the first punch with their rendition of the 1000 year old round 'Summer is a' comin', deftly followed with a battering of songs including: 'Merry England' by Edward German; Henry VIII's  'Pastime with good company' and the 20th century gospel classic 'Down by the riverside' https://vine.co/v/hZdnqZljUJX .
Next in the ring throwing a counter punch was the younger 'De-Harmony', a local teenage group headed up by a super talented lead singer.  Performing a range of material including 'Jesus how I love to call your name', De-Harmony set the bar very high.  Would Jesus College Cambridge resort to fighting dirty, punching below the belt? https://vine.co/v/hZdHJbJlnqb


After a selection of presentations from the Salmon Youth Centre, including an inspirational video setting out their life-changing programme of events, and a moving testimony from volunteer Tina, Jesus College Cambridge entered the ring.
The Choir of Jesus College Cambridge
Dressed in black and ready for battle, they belted out a canon of choral pieces, including a compelling version of 'Somewhere over the rainbow', which made them a sure contender for the prize. https://vine.co/v/hZdEE03VQzt 
But, the truth was that although Cambridge's final bout ended the sing-off, the overall winner in this barn burner of a fight was hard to call.  Each of the choirs sang their hearts out, performing to the highest possible standard.  If there were any tears, they were tears of joy, as each group took their rightful place in the Bermondsey choral hall of fame.
Salmon's relationship with Cambridge dates back to 1906 when Reverend Salmon set up The Cambridge Medical Mission Settlement.  If his spirit was in the room, he would have recognised much of his own pioneering zeal in these young people.  To this day, Salmon proves that partnerships between academia and Bermondsey young people benefit everyone involved.
Working against the backdrop of a difficult national economic climate, Salmon has felt the effects of cuts and efficiency savings.  But, on Sunday they entertained, showcased talent and raised the profile of local youth services, raising desperately needed funds, as well as recruiting new volunteers and supporters.  In reality, the sing-off was part of their fight back to avoid being knocked down for the count.
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