Helensburgh Dorian Choir

What The Critics Say...

Here are some of the crits. and reports we've had over the last few years. First we give a selection of quotes; and then, if you'd like to read more, a few of the crits. and reports in full.

Quotable Quotes

"I was Impressed...so impressed I had to write to you.... Your continuity of vowel production and 'listening balance' brought forth such a beautiful choral tone...(it) blew me away...."
- Barry Blust, Rotary Concert, Helensburgh, 2nd October 2009


"This fine fare of choral favourites was interspersed with Christmas readings - excerpts from 'Harry Potter'...for the children, 'London Snow' by Robert Bridges and 'The Guest' by Thomas Ford. And the brass ensemble of final year music students was superb...'
- 'Christmas Cheer', United Reformed Church, Helensburgh, 9 December 2006


"The Choir took a risk finishing with the 'Hallelujah Chorus' but due to crystal-clear entries... they pulled it off. It was great. Hallelujah for the Dorian Choir and a wonderful evening!"
- 'A Musical Bouquet', Victoria Halls, 13 May 2006


"And what to single out? 'Mice and Men' (arr H Roberton) was lively and fun with the basses and tenors being particularly strong. The listener enjoyed 'The Lark Song' by Mendelssohn (sung in German). Larks are disappearing from our lands but they are in our nearby Glen Fruin, where '...it rises, it soars in delight. You take me from here. I sing with you'."
- 'A Musical Bouquet', Victoria Halls, 13 May 2006


"...suddenly a strong imperialist (wave) hit us broadside with - 'Rule Britannia' complete with 'Union Jack' flag waving! Now there's a thing. The Dorian Choir does not just sing well - they provoke controversy!"
- Helensburgh Advertiser 19 May 2005 ('On Land And Sea', Victoria Halls, 14 May 2005)


"Neither Land nor Sea but maybe perhaps both and more - the heavens were celebrated by Haydn's 'The Heaven’s Are Telling' which was this writer's high spot of the evening."
- Helensburgh Advertiser 19 May 2005 ('On Land And Sea', Victoria Halls, 14 May 2005)


"'SUPERB', 'There was a party atmosphere', 'My kind of music', 'Wasn't it tremendous?' - these were some of the comments heard from the capacity audience after Helensburgh Dorian Choir's Gala 50th Anniversary Concert."
- Helensburgh Advertiser 13 May 1999 ('50 Years Of Song', Victoria Halls, 8 May 1999)


"Four Past Conductors were invited to take up their batons again and to conduct one song each. (After each had conducted, the)...concert came to a rousing climax as all five conductors vied with each other to have their own shot at conducting the last song."

"And the man of the match? Surely it was David Finlay as he deposed Ronnie Walker by lifting him bodily, and seemingly effortlessly, off the rostrum.

"Alas there was no encore of that. We have to wait another 50 years to see that again!"
- Helensburgh Advertiser 13 May 1999 ('50 Years Of Song', Victoria Halls, 8 May 1999)


Critiques In Full

'A Musical Bouquet', Victoria Halls, 13 May 2006
Hallelujah for the Dorian Choir and a Wonderful Evening!

What has happened to Helensburgh Dorian Choir? Are they all on 'happy' pills?

They smiled and twinkled their way through a melodious and exciting musical programme at their annual Spring Concert on Saturday night at the Victoria Halls. One felt each member relished the experience and the large and responsive audience mirrored this enthusiasm. No Presbyterian restraint here: in one number 'Oh Mary, Don't You Weep' the Choir veritably bounced in time to this great spiritual.

Such vitality and indeed polished performance is in no small measure due to the combined talents of conductor, Nairn Young and accompanist Jane Hepworth. Nairn is a fine musician, commanding 100 eyes not to waver from his baton, presenting a very varied programme (entitled 'A Musical Bouquet') and using any spare charisma left to inform the audience of the background to some of the music. We learned whilst being amused.

And what to single out? 'Mice and Men' (arr H Roberton) was lively and fun with the basses and tenors being particularly strong. The listener enjoyed 'The Lark Song' by Mendelssohn (sung in German). Larks are disappearing from our lands but they are in our nearby Glen Fruin, where '...it rises, it soars in delight. You take me from here. I sing with you'.

Country living featured more: 'The Farmer's Boy', a stomping men-only version was riveting: 'Early One Morning' was wistful and poignant and 'The Derby Ram', not sheepish at all but bold and amusing.

Two wonderful young guest soloists would have had this concertgoer attending for them alone. Alasdair Young is a talented pianist who played a stunning Schubert Impromptu and Mozart Fantasia - from memory and his heart. Alex Baker, another Guildhall final year student, sang magnificently. He has style this man - looking cool and relaxed as he sang Copeland's 'At The River' and 'I Bought Me A Cat'.

The Choir took a risk finishing with the 'Hallelujah Chorus' but due to crystal-clear entries and all eyes on the Conductor they pulled it off. It was great. Hallelujah for the Dorian Choir and a wonderful evening!

F H


'On Land And Sea', Victoria Halls, 14 May 2005
An Inspired Evening of Entertainment from Dorian Choir & Co

Helensburgh Dorian Choir provided a grand night out for a large and appreciative audience. They were not only in fine voice, but also they looked good.

Their Conductor, Nairn Young, really brings something special to these concerts and not just via his beat.

His background comments to the audience - whether about Elgar's deeply happy marriage or how Horatio Nelson actually died and was preserved in rum - were enthralling.

The evening of music 'On Land And Sea' featured guests, local baritone supreme, Roberto Kirk and the Lomond School Traditional Music Group.

Their music was more sea than land, but our sea legs were strong, the winds were fair and we all enjoyed our treat of clarsachs playing 'Sound Of Sleat' (was that even a seal we heard?) and 'An Atair Eachd Ard' ('Eternal Surge of the Sea').

This polished group of mixed instruments was really great.

Mr Kirk sang 'Sea Fever' ('I must go down to the sea again') and 'The Old Superb'.

You've not heard of this song? It's wonderful, and Roberto's voice seemed ever richer and rounder.

The Old Superb was the oldest ship in Nelson's fleet, yet sailed the high seas: 'Westward ho! For Trinidad - Eastward ho! For Spain', sang Mr Kirk.

The loyal crew and captain were determined to catch up the fleet sailing past Cadiz to Cape Trafalgar.

The Choir stayed on land to sing 'Linden Lea' and the star song 'I'll Ay Ca In By Yon Toon'. They were in glorious countryside for 'Now Is The Month Of Maying' - lively and beautiful - but went seawards via 'Swansea Town' (by Holst) and finally got into the water with HMS Pinafore.

Mr Kirk sang the part of Sir Joseph Porter with great authority and our motley crew sang with great gusto.

They were advised about getting promotion through the ranks 'Stay close to your desks and you all may be rulers of the Queen's Navy'.

One wonders what Messrs Gilbert and Sullivan would make of our modern navy at Faslane.

Whilst riding these 19th century waves, suddenly a strong imperialist one hit us broadside with - 'Rule Britannia' complete with Union Jack flag waving! Now there's a thing. The Dorian Choir does not just sing well - they provoke controversy!

Some members of the audience muttered they would not dream of waving a Union Jack, others rumbled about the dangers of patriotism, whilst others waved, swayed and smiled.

Mr Nairn Young, the conductor, informed us that 'Rule Britannia' had been written by a Scotsman and was set to music by a German.

The programme was, in part, a commemoration of the 200th anniversary of Nelson's Battle of Trafalgar and our town's naval connection.

Would that this five-hour battle amongst 60 ships, on that cloudy Monday morning in October 1805 had never been fought.

Nelson was a daring and inspired leader but many and brutal were the casualties - not least the poor cows, which were tossed overboard (in case they broke loose) as part of the dawn, pre-battle preparations.

Neither Land nor Sea but maybe perhaps both and more - the heavens were celebrated by Haydn's 'The Heaven's Are Telling' which was this writer's high spot of the evening.

A special mention for Cath Kirk, Archie Waters and Alister Ewing for their beautiful and strong part-singing. It was a joy.

Congratulations to the whole choir (and very able accompanist Jane Hepworth) for an inspiring evening.

F H


'50 Years Of Song', Victoria Halls, 8 May 1999
Concert Was Worth a Wait of 50 Years!


'SUPERB', 'There was a party atmosphere', 'My kind of music', 'Wasn't it tremendous?' - these were some of the comments heard from the capacity audience after Helensburgh Dorian Choir's Gala 50th Anniversary Concert.

This lively 60 strong Choir presented a very full programme of songs written throughout the last 50 years.

One song , 'All In An April Evening' was arranged by Mr James McTaggart, who set up the choir in 1949. Mr McTaggart was blind but this was obviously no hindrance to composing or conducting, and his legacy is a testimony to this.

The Choir Committee, under the keen presidential eye of Cath Kirk, came up with golden surprises for this special concert.

What a coup to have the inestimable Lorna Anderson come back to her home town from engagements abroad and sing for the choir as she once did. How to find words to describe her exquisite voice? Lorna's unaccompanied 'Lochaber' could not have been bettered, and to hear every verse of 'The Laird Of Cockpen' was just great.

Robert Kirk, although he journeyed but half a mile to the concert, nevertheless was a great partner for Lorna, as he joined her in a Mozart duet 'The Kindly Voice Of Mother Nature'. This was a favourite piece for many in the audience.

Four Past Conductors were invited to take up their batons again and to conduct one song each.

Walter Blair changed style and let rip with 'Love Changes Everything' (Aspects of Love). Bill Kean led the Choir through an upbeat 'When I get older losing my hair', 'When I'm Sixty-Four', which he assured us was not chosen because he was follically challenged.

Ronnie Walker conducted music he wrote and arranged for three Scots poems. 'Pease Brose Again' was the song of the concert for me - in fact his wholly exciting trio wins a big rosette. Well done to the small choir for their clarity and punch.

David Finlay won hands down (or is it hands up and waving) for having the most expansive conducting style.

His arm sweeps certainly produced a wonderful range of dynamics and maybe it was that his choir were so intent on interpretation, that they forgot to reflect the song in their faces, that they sang 'I never knew that life was so exciting' looking singularly unexcited. Come now. Life in Helensburgh can be very exciting!

Alan Craig, the reigning conductor, and his excellent accompanist, Jane Hepworth, are a great team and drew magic from the voices before them. 'The Rhythm Of Life' and 'I'd Like To Teach The World To Sing' were lovely, and John Rutter's arrangement of 'When The Saints Go Marching In' was a rollicking good song.

But what happened to 'Sixteen Going On Seventeen'? It sounded more like Sixty going on Seventy.

'California Dreaming' sung by an enterprising trio was refreshing but it's strange to hear the words 'On such a winter's day' on a sunny May evening.

Robert Kirk guided us through the evening pointing out landmarks and helping us see the sights and hear the sounds.

The concert came to a rousing climax as all five conductors vied with each other to have their own shot at conducting the last song.

And the man of the match? Surely it was David Finlay as he deposed Ronnie Walker by merely lifting him bodily, and seemingly effortlessly, off the rostrum.

Alas there was no encore of that. We have to wait another 50 years to see that again!

F H
- Helensburgh Advertiser 13 May 1999