Some of you probably grew up with the music of Elton John. Others, like our own Peterborough Singers’ conductor Syd Birrell, did not! But now he’s discovered just how much musical depth and joy there is in Elton John’s music, as he explains in the Q&A below.
Whichever camp you fall into, The Music of Elton John (a matinee concert at 2 p.m. on Feb. 24) promises to be lots of fun and includes plenty of opportunities to sing along. Get your tickets on the Peterborough Singers tickets page.
Syd Birrell Q&A
Q: As a newcomer to Elton John’s music, what have you discovered?
A: As a classical musician I’m really pleased with the fact that it’s not just three harmonies, and that his harmonic sense is so rich and varied and unexpected. That’s very satisfying. And I’m intrigued by his working relationship with lyricist Bernie Taupin — for over fifty years. The lyrics are always interesting and don’t disappear into nonsense as some of the later Beatles songs did. Now that I’ve thrown myself into the song lists I’ve discovered many songs which I really love.
Q: What did you find out about the audience for Elton John’s music?
A: I’m fascinated that all generations are interested in this. Perhaps Lion King and the Disney connection has something to do with this. But I love it that five-year-olds are belting out songs like Benny and the Jets. I’m intrigued that our 22-year-old Trent students live on this music. I’m also very pleased to discover a pop star who’s not drop dead gorgeous and does not depend on sexy videos to sell his music — but instead it’s music that sells itself on its own feet.
Q: The choir’s recent Yuletide Cheer and Handel’s Messiah concerts had a wonderful reception. What can people expect this time?
A: This time around we’ve chosen to celebrate the choir and the talents within rather than bringing in an outside vocalist. We have soloists, small groups and duets with vocal backup from the choir, as well as many songs sung by full choir. But it doesn’t end there! There’ll be lots of opportunity for audience participation — with words up on the screen. So we look forward to everyone singing together and enjoying these songs.
Q: Overall, what kind of concert experience do you think it will be?
A: The word fun seems too small a word to describe what I think is going to happen, but I think this is going to be so much fun for everybody. And some of those songs will be sad in a very beautiful way. But the exuberance of the majority of our song list will make it very hard for the audience not to get involved. At a rather dark and dreary time of year this is a concert that aims to lift all our spirits!
When: Saturday, February 24, 2 p.m.
Where: Emmanuel United Church, 534 George St N, Peterborough, ON
Who: Syd Birrell and the hundred-plus voices of the Peterborough Singers with Barry Haggarty (guitar), Andrew Affleck (bass), Curtis Cronkwright (drums), and Anne Normand (piano).
Tickets: $35 general admission; $10 students. Available through the Peterborough Singers tickets page and the following:
Pammett’s Flower Shop
Ashburnham Foot & Ankle Centre
Happenstance Books & Yarns (Lakefield)