Sunday, 8 July 2018

Eighth Year at Buxton Fringe 7 July 2018

9.10. Plenty of time to give out the remaining twenty flyers. As I stroll down the hill another car full of our members passes me. Later I see them and one or two others, including Jeff, sitting outside a café. Sitting outside a café in Buxton at 9.20? That's a new one. It's going to be a lovely day.
"Would you like to come to our concert?" I say to Jeff.
"Oh, yes please."
He immediately hands the flyer on to a passer-by. I give him a small fistful to pass on to others.
The last half dozen go into a vintage furniture and coffee shop. "Just the sort of thing our customers like," says the assistant.
Outside one hotel is a sculpture entitled "Somewhere Over the Rainbow". A lady is staring at it. "We sing that one too," I say as I hand her a flyer. I spot her in our audience in our second concert.  So, these flyers work.
It's is quite touching that in several venues where I've dropped off leaflets on my two previous visits to Buxton they've clearly photocopied a few more. Everyone in this delightful town is so supportive of the Fringe Festival.  
We worry a little about the football. I even spot one St Mary's regular at the United Reformed Church. Oh dear. We needn't have worried. At both concerts there were just a few people fifteen minutes before the start. When we appeared at 11.00 at the United Reformed Church and 3.00 at St Mary's the audatoria were both two thirds full – slightly over, perhaps, with just a few more at St Mary's.  Ah! Football – you won't stop us.
Our reviewer picked out that we enjoy singing. Yes, we most certainly do. And it was fun. Read the full review here. It was good to sing some old favourites with which we are confident and we also enjoyed airing Sway and The Blessing.
Of course, there is the usual group photo, this time accompanied by a cat. Do you spot him?  
We are awash with tea and cake. Gallons of tea. There must be, because we use almost a gallon of milk. Such a variety of cake. Some good baking and excellent choices in shopping. This allows us plenty of time to chat to our audiences.
As I go back to my car, I spot the group that followed us at the United Reformed Church.
"How did it go?" I ask. They had performed a short murder mystery play.
"Quite well," they say.  "We had a decent audience in the end."  
I suppose we did cater for people who don't like football.
Yes, another superb day at Buxton. Thank you to Mary at the United Reformed Church and Eric and Eric at St Mary's who made us so welcome and helped our events to run smoothly.   

Sunday, 17 June 2018

Chorlton Choir Festival 16 June 2018

It was one of those proper English summer days – mild but not hot and pleasant enough to sit out in the pretty garden at the front of Chorlton Methodist Church. The church has leased part of its building to The Edge Theatre Company.  There is a nice café, The Dressing Room, which also provides a rather lovely surprise. We had the opportunity to explore all of this as the group who were to perform before us warmed up.     
We were catered for, anyway, by the Festival that provided drinks and cake all day and very reasonably priced sandwiches. 

 We joined six other choirs in a day of singing. Each choir sang for about twenty minutes, and we were timetabled half an hour apart, allowing plenty of time for change over and for the hosts to introduce each group.

Other performers were The Leve Chorus, Accord Gospel Choir and Pennine Trust Choir, Open Voice Community Choir, ZunZun, Urmston Choral Society and Irlam Male Voice Choir. 

I arrived early as I know a member of one of the other choirs. I managed to hear four out of the six. There was certainly a variety of styles and of music, all enjoyable. 

As I sat down in the audience after we'd finished and waited for the next choir to perform the lady sitting next me whispered. "That was lovely. You have some strong basses, don't you?" Well, I guess we do, then.  And very well they do for us too. As of course do the sopranos, altos and tenors.

"It's not always easy to get basses," I replied. 

"And tenors?"

"A handful of males - three today - and the rest of us are female -  four of us today." 

"Ah … I did wonder …"

The audience was again warm and friendly. Naturally at an event like this it was largely made up of people from the other choirs but there was also some members of the public who had paid their £5.00  to listen; maybe they were friends and family of the singers, but whoever they were, they clearly enjoyed music. 

It was a relaxed day and as ever we had fun singing. Thank you Jeff and all choir members. 

Thank you to the organisers for giving us this opportunity.

Singing at the Stockport Masonic Guildhall 15 June 2018 with Maelstrom and SK4

Some of us meet an hour early two Tuesdays a month to sing in smaller groups. We always knew that one day we would perform and in fact the small groups have entered a couple of competitions.
This opportunity came suddenly. We first knew about it last Tuesday. We performed on Friday. 

Another group had had to drop out because of unforeseen family circumstances. We were able to rehearse on Tuesday evening and establish what we felt most comfortable doing. We performed just five songs – three before the interval and two after with our hosts SK4  and one of Jeff's other choirs, Maelstrom offering a few more each. 

For many of us it was the first opportunity to hear Maelstrom. We weren't disappointed. They provided that rich sound that we've all come to associate with male voice choirs yet they're a relatively small group: just thirteen members.  

"We need a few more," said Jeff.  "They insist on sixteen for the competition we want to enter."
Follow the link above and have a listen to them. 

SK4 were absolutely amazing. Everything that these four talented, hard-working women did was excellent but their rendition of Bohemian Rhapsody was better, in my opinion, than Queen's original. A fantastic song to end on. 

Except not quite. We all joined together in a final song. We had been taught it in about five minutes just before the concert started. 

"What were those words again?" asked my neighbour.  

I could only shrug.

No matter. As soon as we started they came back. 

It was a lovely evening. The staff at the Masonic Guildhall and our hosts looked after us well. There was the usual raffle with some excellent prizes. Many other singers formed part of our good-sized audience, so they were warm and appreciative.                     

Wednesday, 13 June 2018

Singing Amongst the Roses 10 Jun 2018

In The Early Summer, Rose, Roses

We sang to them in the rose garden. 

We sang to them in the orangery. 

We sang to them in the inner courtyard. 

We sang to them on the lawn of the main garden, several times. 

Finally we sang near the exit.

Four hours with a few breaks.

We were lucky with the weather. Dunham Massey was full of people enjoying themselves. 

There were picnics, ice creams, prosecco and beer.   

It's not always easy singing in the open air, but the shelter of a tree, a few climbing roses, an enclosed courtyard and the orangery made it easier. It's a good job we remembered the sun cream though: a lot of the time we were out in the open.

It was a great privilege to sing at this lovely National Trust property. We've been here several times before but this is the first time on a Sunday afternoon in what's beginning to look like summer. 

The first record of the park at Dunham Massey dates from 1362. It was left to the National Trust in 1976. There is so much to see and do here and the house itself is impressive yet still feels like a home.   

So for all of us it felt like a day out as well as another great opportunity to sing. We hope they'll ask us back again sometime soon.

Monday, 21 May 2018

Off to the 24th World Scout Jamboree - fund-raising concert 12 May 2018

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It's all starting at Brunswick parish Church. Folk dressed in black start arriving and carrying what must be cake, mustn't it? Mysterious boxes, and plates covered in foil.

We have new flowers. Roses or carnations. We opt for the roses today. Some people sniff them. They're so convincing you'd expect a scent.   

The sun is shining so brightly now that we have to shut the blinds so that the tenors don't have to wear sunglasses. It sets the mood. 

We complete our run through and the audience starts arriving. They're so warm and friendly that we relax too. 

We knew it would happen, of course:  "I always like to get them to have a go at a song we've only been working on for a short time," says Jeff.
We do two in fact: Sway, with its strong rhythms and increasing speed and Everything I do, a pretty, relaxed song. We bring back an old one, Deep River; it's been requested for tomorrow's concert.
Our forty minutes is soon over. During the interval there are lashings of homemade cake and perfectly brewed tea. "I'm going to pop, I think," says one choir member. The rest of us have no sympathy. He's has four different pieces of cake on his plate.
Yes, not only do we sing but we bake cake as well. There is more than enough for all of the audience and all of the performers. In fact there's even some left over for the next day.   
It is so nice to sit back after the interval and enjoy the fabulous performance of the Nim Quartet from Chetham's School of Music. They play individually and as a quartet. The pianist who accompanies the soloists also plays an impressive solo. They may be talented and have the right aptitudes for the instruments they play but that would never be enough. It's clear here that these young people have also worked hard and that they love what they're doing – and I expect despaired of it now and then but come back to it. It is lovely to see them quietly confident but not at all ostentatious in their relationship to their audience. A fine range of pieces, too.  
The concert has been arranged by one of these young people.
All proceeds go to sending a scout to the 24th World Jamboree and will also help scouts from third world countries. A substantial proportion of what is needed is raised today. We feel so privileged to have been asked to help with this.