The Green Room is actually wood-panelled and sports a three-dimensional frieze. There is old furniture that you’re asked not to sit on. We have a quick walk on and sing a few extracts in the main event room. Most of our rehearsal is in this lovely room, used most of the time as a committee room, I believe. It sounds and feels good; and so it should – this building is after all part of Chetam’s School of Music, and accustomed to music.
This music school, situated on Long Millgate, one the oldest parts of Manchester and very near to the cathedral, says Manchester loud and clear. So it’s a fitting place for this event, Manchester is Here, that remembers the bombing of the Arndale Centre exactly twenty years ago. It follows on from a day-long symposium that celebrates Manchester’s survival and regrowth after the bomb and looks towards devolution.
So, we feel very privileged to be part of this event. We’re just a little nervous. This is so important. We have to keep quiet in the Oak-Panelled Room – noise travels easily. We whisper like mice.
Those nerves are useful. Just enough to keep us on form but not enough to cripple. We open with Wonderful World, then sing a closing set – Can You Feel the Love, Here There Everywhere, Over the Rainbow, Somewhere and of course On a Day like This. It all goes smoothly. Of course it does. This building cherishes music.
The audience is appreciative and one young lady is particularly enthusiastic. “I used to lead a choir,” she says, later as we meet in the hospitality area, “so I know what you’re up to.”
“Aren’t you in a choir now?” we ask.
She isn’t. We recommend that she should change that situation. She agrees to do something about it.
We leave with a delightful souvenir. We’re each given a copy of ANew Manchester Alphabet, a snapshot of Manchester in 2015. This has been put together by The Manchester Writing School, part of Manchester Metropolitan University, who also arranged the symposium. The volume also includes Roger Oldham’s original A Manchester Alphabet.
A lovely evening all told.