Monday 15 October 2018

Victoria Baths 14 October 2018

Victoria Baths plays with the senses

It said the water was six foot deep near where we stood. Just in line of sight was the sign indicating four foot. Our audience stood at the shallow end or sat on the viewing balcony above. 
When we started there were just three people but by the time we'd finished the first song of our first set there was a substantial crowd. A warm, appreciative crowd. 

It was the food festival.  Lucky for us there was enough time between the first and the second set to sample some of the goodies. What to choose though? Gorgeous, naughty cakes?  Pizza coked in a wood-fired oven?  Mauritian food? Curry?  Flavours of the Deep South? A regular cafĂ© and bar was in operation as well.  

As I wandered round trying to make my mind up, a man stopped me.  "You're with the choir, aren’t you? When are you singing again?" 

I nodded. I guess the black outfit and the purple flower were the giveaway. "2.30, I believe. Though it may change." It did. We were asked to push our second performance back to 2.45. I gave him an update. I noticed him and his companions later when we sang our second set. 

Victoria Baths plays with the senses. In a nice way. It was grey outside at first which meant that it was chilly in the bath. Then the sun came out and was warm through the glass. The light is always extraordinary in this building, different, though according to the outside weather.  This time we had also the smells and tastes of some lovely food.  I hope we contributed well to the sound. A couple of times I heard that glorious echo.

Our second set was substantially different from the first one though there was some overlap – Bridge Over Troubled Water and Everything I do, for instance. All pieces, both times, with which we are very familiar. 

It was a slick affair. Everyone worked well together. This is of course one of the joys of belonging to a choir. 

And Victoria Baths feels like home.              

Sunday 7 October 2018

Singing at Fountains Abbey 6 October 2018

You can see the breath of the singers, it is so cold in the abbey as it gets dark at the end of this fine autumn day.  But it's not too cold. We're well wrapped up and when you're absorbed in the music you don't notice anymore. 

Goodness, we have an audience even for the warm-up. By the time we get to the performance the place is pretty full.  Then part way through I notice even more chairs to the side, also full. 

There are quite a few of our friends, family and fans in the auditorium but also many National Trust members and visitors. Occasionally, too, a ghostly face appears at one of the glass-less windows. Probably National Trust volunteers just peering in. They might, of course, be other-worldly. Whoever they are, they seem to enjoy our performance.  

And outside in the dark we get glimpses of torches, rainbow wheels and even a dog wearing lights. Later he comes into the hall and joins in the singing – just a little, and it doesn't detract.    
It's good as ever to sing with our friends from Blackburn People'sChoir. Together we are able to offer a mixed repertoire – including amongst others the more serious In Remembrance and The Blessing, popular songs like Bridge Over Troubled Water, Everything I do, I Will,  Say a Little Prayer, and Here Comes the Sun and the fun but challenging Sway. The audience want an encore, so we give them Kiss the Girl. 

The National Trust looks after us well. There are quite a few Ordsall members there when Blackburn People's Choir arrive, glorious in their black and red, and then more of Ordsall come along. Undaunted, our guide for the day leads us down to the abbey. At one point I think I see a monk in front. Has our guide put something over her uniform? Is it a ghost? Do they have monks here? I blink and he has gone. We discuss this later. 

"A volunteer actor, I should think," says an Ordsall member who volunteers at another National Trust property. Most likely. Well, whoever it was was convincing.    

There is just time to grab some tea and a bite to eat before we begin rehearsing.  

The hour goes by quickly and then we must make our way back up the steep path toward the car park. They warned us to bring torches and it is now obvious why. Yet these tiny lights and the ones on the foot path cause little light pollution. You can certainly see the stars here. Anyway, star-gazing is a good excuse to stop and get your breath back.      
A brave soul who walks with a stick has paused for a rest on a bench half way up. "You must be the choir," he says. "That was glorious." 

"He's a singer, himself," says his companion. 

"This is my birthday treat," he says.  "You made my day."

Nice to know, but actually he made our day by saying that. 

It's a long round trip and we get frost warnings in our cars as we drive home. But it has certainly been worth it. We hope we can come again – either to sing or to be an audience for another choir.