The Courtyard Quartet’s musical birthday card

It was a delight to welcome back The Courtyard Quartet. They have created a dedicated following in the Hertford area on account of their eclectic choice of repertoire and precise rendition of subtle arrangements by the quartet’s arranger, Geoff Blythe.

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The idea of a “surprise “ concert in honour of my 70th birthday was flattering to say the least.

They had evidently gone to some length to research my main ‘life moments’ and, by choosing examples of songs from these moments, this resulted in a contrasting and stimulating programme. The other link they’d found with this year was the anniversary of the death of William Shakespeare, so each section of the programme was wittily headed with a quote from the Bard.

Research had indicated my early passion for the American Songbook, and I enjoyed their superb arrangement of “Let’s do it”. A reason for a chapter on early consort music brought out the best in the quartet. ‘El Grillo’ and ‘La Bomba’ being staples of theirs.

My university years in Scotland were marked by a touching rendition of the ‘Eriskay Love Lilt.’ Original works by Bob Chilcot and Eric Whitacre were finely executed. The group’s sonorous singing of Charles Wood’s ‘Full Fathom Five’ was memorable. My own arrangement of ‘Tiptoe through the Tulips’ was delivered with graceful panache and corrected grammar.

Geoff Blythe did me the honour of arranging ‘What a wonderful World’, for me to sing with them, which was a great privilege.

Thank you, Courtyard Quartet – we’ll hope to join you for your festive programme!

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