Birthday cake, wine, speeches . . . it was a night of celebration at the JDP on Saturday, as the Blackbird Leys Choir — star of Channel 4’s The Singing Estate — celebrated its fifth birthday in style. And why not? Many of the singers were new to the world of classical when they assembled, somewhat uncertainly, at Blackbird Leys Community Centre back in 2006, to be cajoled into shape by conductor Ivor Setterfield (right) and invited to perform in front of thousands at the Royal Albert Hall.

The setting on Saturday may have lacked the splendour of this venue, but the singing was as glorious. With Setterfield in the audience, the choir was out to impress, and under the direction of current conductor Trevor Davies they did exactly that. The opening piece, Mozart’s Ave Verum, was given a proficient and polished rendition, delivered with confidence, clarity and plenty of tonal colour. There were some lovely floating notes from the sopranos, underpinned by the solid singing from the other voices. Wesley’s Lead Me Lord, Bach’s Jesu Joy of Man’s Desiring and Purcell’s Rejoice in the Lord Always were treated with the same warmth and sense of commitment, while the eight-piece orchestra shone in the opening pieces, The Arrival of the Queen of Sheba and Pachelbel’s glorious Canon.

But in the main piece, Vivaldi’s suitably celebratory Gloria, both choir and orchestra surpassed themselves. This was a real treat, from that striking opening to the spirited finale.

Choir chairman Jeremy Renals said this was the choir’s most challenging piece to date, and it was a challenge they rose to magnificently. There were fine contributions, too, from the guest soloists, including Setterfield himself, who stepped in to sing the alto solo, Domine Deus, Agnus Dei. Ultimately, though, the night belonged to the Blackbird Leys Choir. This was the pinnacle of their five-year journey. Ivor must have been proud.