Review: The Lost Sound at The Manor Pavilion during Sidmouth FolkWeek

The Lost Sound Dartmoor Folk Choir. Picture: Contributed

The Lost Sound Dartmoor Folk Choir. Picture: Contributed - Credit: Contributed

A beautiful, uplifting performance by a note-perfect choir specialising in multi-layered harmonies

The Manor Pavilion was packed for Sunday afternoon’s performance by the Dartmoor folk choir The Lost Sound, supported by singer-songwriter Chris Hoban.

Hoban is closely associated with Show of Hands and has written some of their songs as well as touring with them; Steve Knightley describes him as “the best unknown writer on the scene”.

He opened the show with a selection of traditional folk songs, including the haunting Along The Old Lych Way, inspired by Dartmoor’s ‘corpse road’, and another composition celebrating England’s ancient trees. Many audience members sang along with the chorus lines; his performance was a rousing warm-up to the headline act, The Lost Sound.

The best way to describe the sound of this a capella choir is to compare each singer to a perfectly-tuned instrument, being played by a master musician. Whether they are quietly humming in harmony, or giving it their all in full voice, every note is true, controlled and pure. The Lost Sound are known for their multi-layered arrangements, sometimes with up to eight parts running at once, yet there is a lightness about the sound that is never lost.

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The afternoon’s performance was titled In This Heart, and carried the audience on an emotional journey through grief and yearning, to exuberance and joy. It featured the song of the same title written by Sinead O’Connor; a sixth-century Hebrew composition, Hashi Venu, with a solemn start building up to an exuberant finale; and a Haitian folk song, Peze Kafe.

The second half included ensemble performances by groups of male/female singers, and finished with the Celtic folk classic Hal an Tow. For the encore, Wild Mountain Thyme, three children of choir members, aged five, seven and 13, joined the singers on stage and the audience also sang along with the Scottish love song.

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Many audience members were visibly moved by the performance. One woman, wiping tears from her eyes, spoke of how beautiful and emotional the music was; “it’s those harmonies,” agreed her friend. Yet the overall mood was utterly uplifting. There is a phrase ‘to sing your heart out’; and when you have heard The Lost Sound, you know exactly what it means.

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