Friday 18 December 2015

Christmas Mash-up

At Dunham Massey

That’s how they described us at Event City for the WinterWonderland . That is a good description. Winter Wonderland is a noisy affair and even the heavily miked main acts were difficult to hear unless you were close up. Yet, with, for once, a backing track and a bit of mime and dance, we were delighted to find some children following us avidly with one young lady making a bid for Jeff’s job: she conducted us beautifully. Maybe for this event we should have renamed ourselves the Dark Elves. The stage lighting and the “snowy” back ground did a good job in showing off our black uniforms with purple hats, purple tinsel and white fairy lights.  This isn’t quite out usual sort of thing, but you know what: it was fun and we discovered new talents. We can mime and dance too! 
It’s been a bit of “mash-up” few days.
8 December Carol service at St Clements Ordsall
11 December Event City
12 December Dunham Massey
13 December Light up a Life, St Ann’s Hospice 
14 December Event City.
We have another appearance at Event City on 20 December and a very special private event on 23 December.
So many gigs, so many contrasts.

“Do enjoy the music,” says Reverend Sandra Kearney of St Clements. “They’re semi-professional.” Wow! Really? We just enjoy singing and always do the best we can. Anyway, there was a great little Christmas Fayre beforehand and some of us were able to sort out some last–minute Christmas shopping. So we were delighted to have been invited.
Singing for the Light up a Life ceremony is always special. This year we sang Sleep My Child. It worked well. It rained – which it has every year except one and that year was exceptionally cold. It didn’t deter folk though. It’s really moving as everyone lights their candle from another and then thinks of people who can’t be with us as we sing. The rain was only gentle so the lights held.    
Dunham Massey is special too. Christmas music in a beautiful old house – what could be more Christmassy? We had to be limited in numbers here. However, that is actually good for us sometimes. We have to work a little bit harder and then we bring that extra effort back to the main group. Win, win.
Two final rehearsals 15 December and 22 December and we’re already looking forward to 2016, which promises to be another busy one. We have just one week off this Christmas break.   
We wish a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to all of our friends, fans and followers.  And to members too, of course.         


Sunday 8 November 2015

‘In Remembrance’ Concert with Ashton-on- Mersey Showband and Honour Choir, 7 November 2015

“They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old: age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn. At the going down of the sun and in the morning, we will remember them.”
(Poem by Robert Laurence Binyon (1869-1943), published in The Times newspaper on 21st September 1914.)

These words are so familiar to many of us and spoken a lot at this time of year. They are, of course, particularly familiar to members of the Honour Choir and form part of Honour 4, a poignantly appropriate addition to this concert and beautifully performed by Honour.

There were several solemn moments: singing the national anthem, the two minute silence and the British Legion parade by two veterans. The concert ended with another show of national pride that resembled the Last Night at the Proms. The band led us in renderings of Jerusalem, Land of Hope and Glory and Rule Britannia, not to forget clapping to the Hornpipe.

There were lighter moments too: the band brought us a medley of Disney tunes, Honour sang  Viva la Musica and, going for Disney again, we offered Kiss the Girl.

There were a few surprises. We’d not been expecting Kiss the Girl or I Will but it doesn’t matter: it worked. Anyway, we were pleased to join Honour for Hail Smiling Morn, Blue Skies, Wonderful World, Bring Him Home and Viva la Musica. They joined us for Kiss the Girl.  

It was all about harmony. We’d been reminded at the beginning of the evening that we are here today to be able to join together this way because of the sacrifices made by others earlier. So we wore our poppies with pride – on the left for the men and on the right for the ladies.  And with the leaves pointing to eleven o’clock. Something else we learned.               

A pleasing concert in a very nice venue.

Saturday 7 November 2015

The Lying King, Lighting the Legend and Lanterns, Ordsall, 6 November 2015

“So, we follow the drum and the unicycle.”
“Yes, then when we get to the “stage” – it’s not a real, one remember - we get into our parts.”
“So, we do Kiss the Girl.”
Yes. Then if Gail gives us the signal we can do Viva la Musica. After that we shuffle over to the left.”
“Then when we get the cue, it’s Hail Smiling Morn.” He’s just teasing, of course.
“No, Kiss the Girl. The one we’re really here for. Matt so almost got it right.
“No!” Now everyone is chipping in now. “Can you feel the love?” From the Lion King. But tonight we’re using it for The Lying King.
“And what was the cue again?” Jeff gets ready to write on his hand. It would be interesting to be able to read the layers and layers of song titles that have been written on that hand. It would show the history of the choir. Of all of his choirs.     
“Aaaah. Now it’s time for a sad song.”   
We warm up in the other half of the neighbourhood centre where we normally rehearse. It’s a workshop-come-store and we have to breathe in a bit as it’s busy tonight. As we exercise our voices and run through our three songs, people pass to and fro: helpers carrying saucepans of something hot, folk with fairy lights in their hair, and members of the emergency services coming in for a brew. And the lanterns, oh the lanterns.   
Soon it’s time to set off. There’s quite a buzz as we march slowly towards our venue with the drummer drumming, the clown’s car going round in circles and the lanterns gently jostling up and down. There’s an ice-cream van and a fire engine that blows bubbles as well. We feel important as the traffic has to stop to let us by.
Soon it’s time for us to sing. It’s never easy singing outdoors but out audience listens attentively. People watch as well from the bedroom windows of the old red bricks and from the front porches of the new-builds. We manage to add to the magic of the evening.
The time goes quickly and soon it’s the moment to continue the parade towards the fireworks. The fire engine is waiting for us.
It’s good to be able to give something to the community from which we get our name. To the community that created us in the first place.  

Monday 14 September 2015

Flowers on the Table and Singing in the Bath, Victoria Baths, 13 September 2015

Flowers on the table – that’s the key to the kingdom, the children’s rhyme goes. Choir members lurk behind pretty flower arrangements as we sample the delicious lemon drizzle and carrot and ginger cake. We’ve been to this building many times now. We’re still impressed with its beauty. There seems to be a new touch every time. Yes, these flower arrangements are exquisite – each one is a little different. It’s that attention to detail that makes the difference. We sing in front of a huge heart made of tissue and net flowers. We suspect there’s been a wedding here.  

Sunday 6 September 2015

Ordsall Community Allotment show, 5 September 2015

Salfordian red-brick town-houses, a well-run community cafĂ©, a pretty garden, the gate opened officially the first time today by the mayor,  some impressive produce and some tidy and productive allotments- what more could one wish for? Sunshine perhaps, and a choir? Yep. We got those.         
Councils in the United Kingdom are supposed to pledge a certain amount of land to people in the borough to use for growing fruit, vegetables and horticultural items. The Shrerber movement in Germany sought to provide fresh air for growing children by creating allotment-type gardens. The allotments also helped to combat malnutrition. Families could grow their own healthy food. This is a really important initiative then in both countries, and the people of Ordsall do it wonderfully.

Sunday 26 July 2015

Fifth time at Buxton Fringe, 25 July 2015

You’ve done all the things you said you would. You’ve thought of everything that needs to be thought about. Or have you? What have you forgotten? Go through the checklist. No, all’s done. And some.
It’s inevitable that a few have to cancel at the last minute but we’ve still a balanced choir. Our MD is there and he’s had a good breakfast so is raring to go. We’ve had a short run through and it went well. It’s 10.40 and concert number one at the United Reformed Church begins at 11.00. All we need is an audience. We have built it. Will they come?

Saturday 4 July 2015

Sunshine and ice-creams: Swinton Grove Park Family Fun Day 4 July 2015

11.35 and folk begin to arrive. The grass steams gently as a warm sun clears the water left from last night’s storm. Already we’re seeking some shade. We’ve come here for several years now and we always associate it with sun. It’s such a happy event.
“Black is the new … black.” It’s our turn to sing. “Black with a touch of purple. The Ordsall  A Cappella Singers from Ordsall and beyond.”  Spot on. That is us indeed.
We’re a little reduced in numbers today and Jeff joins the basses and occasionally the tenors. Yet there are enough of us and we’re balanced. We just get on with it. We have the luxury of mics for the main event though they rather draw us into smaller groups. No matter: it works.
We sing a short set of songs that somehow go with the occasion: Viva la Musica, Smile, Here, There and Everywhere / Long Winding Road, Under the Boardwalk and Kiss the Girl. One gentleman has arrived late so we sing Soul Wind especially for him.
We’re treated to lunch. Many of us opt for the chicken leg and salad, which are very enjoyable. We’re made to feel very welcome.
Next it’s time for an ice-cream and another sing, this time on the mound below the trees, quite near to the bouncy castle. This time it’s I Got Rhythm, Joshua, Blue Skies and Viva la Musica again. It’s amazing how much an ice-cream can look like a hand-held mike …
The fun day is going well. We finish our stint and then we’re off duty. Several of us make our way over to the Elizabeth Gaskell House where we enjoy tea in real mugs and cake on real china plates. What value for money, too.  A whole pot of Earl Grey and a slice of lemon drizzle for just £2.00.
Where would we be without cake?
Don’t forget, there’ll be plenty of it and of our songs in Buxton 25 July! See you there?