Event City, Manchester, near the Trafford Centre. We have an early start for a Sunday: 10.00 a.m. and we need to be at the bandstand by 9.30. For some reason my sat nav always drops me a couple of blocks away and then I can’t quite remember where it is from there.
“Just along there and under the bridge, and to your left,” says the man tidying up the trollies in the car park.
Yes, might have it fixed now.
Most of us arrive early. There’s always a concern about parking and they’re not letting ordinary folk park immediately behind the venue. Many of us are quite canny and park further away where we can get out easily afterwards.
It’s out first official Christmas gig. Lighting the Legend, Bonfire Night, Remembrance Day are all done now. It’s time to get out the fairy lights and the purple tinsel. Artificial snow on our boots and strings of lights round our necks get us in the mood.
The visitors to the event have to file past the bandstand before they get to the stalls. Various choirs have thirty minute slots. There are choirs that are bigger than ours and choirs that are smaller than ours. Tenor Colette sings immediately before us and after us with another choir. A couple of friends of tenor Bev perform immediately after our final slot.
It’s a joy to sing these songs. We offer:
- the jolly - Holly Jolly Christmas, Watcha Gonna Bring for Christmas
- the soft and gentle – Hush Be Still, Coventry Carol, Sleep My Child, Gabriel’s Message
- the energetic – Merrily Sing, Heard About a Baby, Going to Bethlehem, Carol of the Bells, Hail Blessed Morn
- the traditional – Away in a Manger, Silent Night
and beautiful Basque carol The Infant King that doesn’t quite fit into any category.
We’re amazed and delighted that the general public actually stop and listen on the way in. They even clap. Other choirs watch and support and we hope we do the same for them, too.
We have three slots: 10.00, 12. 30 and 3.00. So, there is plenty of time for socialising, shopping and watching the other performances. First mince pies of the season are consumed.
Savvy alto Sue suggests Café Valerie as a suitable place to get lunch before our final set. It works beautifully. The talk is of horses, dogs and flowers. Naturally. Why wouldn’t it be?
What’s not to love about belonging to a choir? Hard work, yes, but such fun singing and socializing.