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.