Abbey Road takes centre stage as Peterborough Singers perform Beatles 3
Little did the Peterborough Singers know that when their artistic director, Syd Birrell, discovered the Beatles in the early 2000s – a few decades late to the party, he humbly admits – the result would be a musical excursion unlike anything the choir had embarked on before.
But that’s exactly how it turned out.
Back by popular demand, this February the 100-voice Peterborough Singers will perform Beatles 3. As the name suggests, this is the third time the Singers will bring the Fab Four to Peterborough in the unexpected guise of lush choral arrangements – the bulk of them originals by Birrell himself.
It’s a stark switch of direction from Handel’s Messiah or Bach’s B-Minor Mass – the Singers’ accustomed fare. But the third time around, the Singers know exactly what to expect – and so does their audience, who have shown up in droves for the previous two installments of the musical trilogy, and have clamoured for more.
But just as the Beatles’ music comes in endlessly diverse shades and colours, varying with the unfolding stages of their career, so too no Peterborough Singers Beatles concert is the same.
This year, Birrell has decided to put the Beatles’ final album – Abbey Road – at centre stage.
“While previous concerts featured Beatles’ favourites, we now have an album focus,” he explained. “That is, the wonderful 1969 Abbey Road album. It contains 17 cuts and we will be performing 14 of them. We will also have an audience participation surprise.”
The side two of Abbey Road – a medley of short songs cut together to form one complex work – is considered by many to be the most challenging of any Beatles album to perform. No sweat, says Birrell. “A great choir always needs to take on a great challenge.”
The truth is, it’s a labour of love for Birrell. “The overwhelming response to the Singers’ 2010 and 2013 Beatles concerts provided a wonderful excuse to explore more from the Fab Four’s vast catalogue of music.”
The Singers will be joined by Master of Ceremonies David Goyette and top local musicians. “Join us as we bring the spirit of this legendary band back into our hearts and minds,” says Birrell.