The wonderful work that is Mike Westbrook's Glad Day - The Choral Version
A review from the performance that was filmed in HD for this DVD:
The poetry of William Blake, with its searing commentaries on human greed, cruelty and other failings, has a particular resonance in these uncertain times. Toynbee Studios in Commercial Road in London’s East End last weekend (December 6 & 7, 2008) were the appropriate setting for the latest manifestation of Mike Westbrook’s songs and musical settings of the poems of the 18th century London visionary. Westbrook’s basic group, featuring the leader on piano, Karen Street (accordion), Billy Thompson (violin) and Steve Berry (double bass) was augmented by the 40-strong London College of Music Chamber Choir, directed by Paul Ayres. At its core is Westbrook’s pared-down, hymn-like piano accompaniment and majestic introductions with Berry’s double bass playing a pivotal role. While Karen Street’s accordion and Billy Thompson’s violin provide effective instrumental colour in the arranged sections, their expressive improvisations raised the overall performance to fresh heights. Westbrook’s talent as an arranger, allied to his strong sense of theatre, is to do just as much as is required and not to embellish or complicate without clear reason. The choir provided a further dimension, whether accompanying, taking the lead or in their choir-only feature The Tyger and the Lamb. But it was the two vocalists who stood out - Kate Westbrook’s for her heart-felt delivery and Phil Minton for his passionate interpretation of every single word and the expressive range of his voice. The audience left Toynbee Studios on this cold December evening, uplifted and warmed by Minton’s extraordinary performance of the two closing songs ‘The Fields’ and ‘I See Thy Form’.