Monday 18 September 2023

Going up North to the South Lakes and even more Acappella



It was our very great pleasure to be invited to support the South Lakes Acappella at their concert at the beautiful St Mary’s Church, Windermere, a listed building.

It’s a long journey, particularly for those of our members who live south of the city, and it had been quite a hectic day the day before. So we were delighted that some of our friends form Blackburn People’s Choir were able to join us as well. Thank you so much, Blackburn!  

It was a moody sort of day. Dark clouds threatened rain and although the air was still warm it was a sharp contrast to the heatwave we had the week before. Indeed, just the right sort of afternoon for singing and listening to others sing. Not to forget the tea and cake afterwards.  Oh yes, Acappella and Cake is definitely back on the menu.

It was lovely to sit back and listen to the South Lakes Acappella. Their voices were strong and they filled the church with a lovely sound. I kept looking for the amplifier. Of course, there was none; they were just opening their mouths wide and breathing deeply – but only in the right places - and they had some strong basses that gave a really rich tone to their music.

We did a quite a few pieces together including two at the beginning when we surrounded our audience. Then South Lakes Acappella sang on their own. Afterwards it was our turn. I particularly enjoyed I Got Rhythm and Poor Wayfaring Stranger this time. Finally we came together to sing a few more including Oh Earth Loving Mother, one of the newer songs for all three choirs.

“It is so good to hear the church filled with music,” said our hostess who has been a member of the church choir since she was nine. Goodness. She told me her age. I won’t give it away but it does mean that she’s been singing in the church a little longer than I’ve been alive.  

I chatted to a family who had been part of the audience. We agreed that we love this formula: the church provides the drinks and venue and the choirs the cake and music. It reminded me of the Koffikonzerts we used to go to when we lived in the Netherlands.  For the price of cup of coffee and a slice of cake you got a cup of coffee and a slice of cake and a very good concert. The performers were often musicians in their
final year at one of the academies but there were also at times enthusiastic amateurs – bands, chamber orchestras and, of course,  choirs.

“It’s really lifted my mood, listening to you all sing, said the mum. That was good to know. And that’s one of the reasons why we sing, isn’t it?     

Yes it was a lovely way to spend the afternoon. It’s always good, singing in a choir, working together with other people to create the best sound possible.  That is magnified again when several choirs work together as they did yesterday.

The journey there and back was very easy. Indeed the eighty miles were far less stressful then the eight miles I’d had to travel last week. I had time to stop for a coffee on the way there. As I waited for it to cool down a little I had a go at Wordle.  How appropriate. Yesterday’s word was “music”.     

Monday 11 September 2023

Victoria Baths 10 September



We usually shiver a little at the Victoria Baths . Not so yesterday, one of the hottest days of the year. Moving and singing actually felt a little cooler than just standing still.

Because of threatened road closures I personally allowed an extra forty-five minutes for my journey and bizarrely arrived forty-five minutes early even though I was stuck for a while in traffic. This had two great bonuses though; I was able to enjoy a cup of Earl Grey and a slice of their lemon drizzle cake and I was able to listen to the choir that performed before we did: the She Choir. They are an interesting group so do have a look at their web site. By one of those bizarre coincidences that occur more often than you’d credit I was actually at a meeting on Friday in the space where they rehearse.

Certainly the tea shop in Victoria Baths is to be recommended as is the bath itself as a place to sing; it was a joy to listen to them. This place really brings the music to life. The sound expands and echoes around the whole space.

It was soon our turn. The rehearsal space this time was the laundry.

“You’re not expecting us to do the laundry are you?” asked one of our altos. “We have enough of that to do at home.”

No, we needn’t have worried. No washing or ironing expected. Tough a little tucked out of the way  it was a pleasant space, quite cool and with a nice high ceiling.   

Then we were on and were soon singing to an appreciative audience. We have to take a little care with the echo; it’s tempting to slow down and listen to it. We were particularly pleased that one of our newer songs went well.  

We were part of the Pools of Creativity event that took place over the weekend. The artist Akinyemi Oludele was present at the event and indeed spent some time sketching us. He is Manchester based and has been involved in producing art for over twenty years. Indeed he often uses music and politics to inspire his work. He likes to draw what is in front of him. We were in front to of him.  

We always enjoy singing in this iconic space and hope to do so again soon. Yesterday was no exception.