Friday, 25 May 2012

Most appropriate T-shirt ever?

Since I joined the Loughborough Male Voice Choir and then started to have singing lessons with Caroline, I do seem to have developed the tendency to sing on an almost constant basis. Well you see, it took me fifty years to actually start singing soI have got a lot of time to make up!

Anyway, Ruth saw a T-shirt on a website and reckoned it was perfect for me! So here, modelling said T-shirt is me!

See y'all at Queen's Park on Sunday for a right good sing-song!


Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Did someone mention concerts?

Don't ya just love this time of year? For those fortunate enough to be a member of a choir, those endless rehearsals all start to mean something as the concert schedule starts to get busy. If you are mad enough to be a member of more than one choir, you start to lose track of what you are meant to be doing and when. And if you have other famly members in yet more choir's or Shakespeare companies it all starts to get a bit mental. But in a good way!

Last weekend was something of a classic in terms of its madness at 'Chateau Knightthorpe'. Enchanted were doing the entertaining on Friday night which just so happened to be my birthday! So I was happy to forego a party type celebration in favour of playing at being cameraman for the gig. Now don't start feeling sorry for me! In view of my current status as being 'between jobs' and being somewhat skint, this was no bad thing. Besides, as it turmed out it was way more entertaining than any party ever could be.

The concert was staged at St. Michaels Church, Sutton Bonington along with the Sutton Bonington Voices, led by the LMVC's very own Chris Hill. What with the LMVC, Sutton Bonington Voices, his ivory tinkling for Enchanted and organ playing at Trinity, one does wonder what Mr Hill likes to do in his spare time? If indeed he does ever have any!?!

The concert started with the children of Sutton Bonington Primary School. It's always great to see young children taking their very first steps in performing. I usually find the recorder to be a quite painful instrument to listen to, but these guys were quite excellent - definitely the most tuneful recorder playing I've ever heard. Well done kids!

Next up were Enchanted. I think it's fair to say that the girls were not at their best that night. The reason perhaps was the rather flat acoustics of the church which meant that he girls were struggling to hear each other. To those of us who have heard them on numerous occasions, there were a few dodgy bits, but not particularly noticable to the audience. The tricky song Soldier, Soldier was alas a bit wayward, summed up by a frustrated shake of the head from Caroline at it's end. Having said that, the girls stuck to the task and got through the show and the audience certainly enjoyed it. It is remarkable how important the acoustics of a venue really are in practice. We in the male voice choir are somewhat spoilt to be able to rehearse and perform concerts at Trinity Methodist Church with its quite magnificent acoustics. More on that later. So sadly some of the recording is now lying on the cutting room floor, but there are some songs that might just get an airing shortly.

Now to the following evening - Saturday 19th May at Trinity Methodist Church Centre. This was to be the LMVC's first concert from their home venue in 2012 and was cleverly titled (as suggested by Ruth) 'A May Sing' - Songs for a May Evening. This also featured special guests, The Loughborough CE Primary School Choir. Fresh from their success at the Coalville Festival, this group of children were quite excellent. Wonderfully in tune and precise renditions of songs including Rocking in Rhythm and Feed the Birds. Great stuff!

Lyndon Gardner had a couple of solo spots, delivering some classy songs with his usual precision. I particularly liked Maria from West Side Story. As this song is featured on one of my Alfie Boe CDs, I almost knew it word for word myself!

The male voice choir were on the whole pretty good. I rather thought that our first half was again better than our second, which I think suggests that some of our newer songs need a little more work to make then as polished as the others. I think the 'follow, follow, follow, follow' bits in Time to Remember were a little ragged and as is often the case, the finger clicking in Chanson d'amour seemed to fade away somewhat. At the end of the first half, the rendition of the legendary Amarillo was possibly our best effort yet except for a point half way though when it seemed  to almost stall, which was a shame.

Minor gripes aside, there were some notable triumphs. Despite the reservations of some of us that trying to sing Myvanwy without copies was not wise, it turned out great and I even remembered most of it! Llanfair was also quite wonderful! The 'Amen' climax at max volume sends shivers down the spine as it echos around the church!

And then of course, there was Pleasant and Delightful! This included my second solo of the third verse of this folk song and I think it was a vast improvement on my first effort in terms of confidence and expression. I just LOVED it. Come ABRSM Grade 5 time, I'll do the whole song for the 'unaccompanied folk song of my choice'! The whole song just felt so much better, probably because of Trinity's superb acoustics, with the audience joining in and with my gradually increasing confidence. I can't wait to receive my CD to see if it really was as good as it seemed.

Following our last concert in April, Caroline had challenged me to sing with a smile on my face. My facial expression wasn't something I'd thought about, but I suppose I invariably have my 'concentration frown' fixed on my face for the duration. So this time I made a concerted effort to show a bit of expression and try to look as though I am enjoying myself. Well, apparently I passed the test! Hoorah!

So, what next? Why, it's the now annual visit to the Bandstand at Queen's Park this coming Sunday 27th May at 2.15 pm. Note, that's 2.15 pm. As I've suggested on the Facebook LMVC page, bring along friends, relatives, neighbours, pets with a nice hamper full of goodies and make an afternoon of it with Caroline's Carillon Recital to follow us at 3.30pm. What better way to spend a warm sunny summer Sunday than that? See you all there!


Friday, 18 May 2012

Concerts, concerts, concerts. . . .

Heaven knows how I ever found the time to actually go to work! Since finding myself  'between jobs' I have been as busy as ever what with decorating at the in-laws house and numerous choir rehearsals and singing lessons. What fun!

Let me start today by making up for a quite shameful omission from my last post. For some inexplicable reason, I failed to mention the momentous first concert performance of the epic I Believe at the end of the concert last month. This was the final piece that the Caroline Sharpe Singers performed in the Kegworth concert and it had Enchanted singing Ave Maria over the top of it. It sounds crazy and it is! Cheesey? Absolutely, in fact it is a veritable Cheese Shop of cheese that would make Monty Python proud! It's one of those  arrangements that could turn out to be truly epic or an embarrassing disaster.

One or two I suspect feared the latter, but on the night it was quite definitely the former! The climax sees all of us giving it 'max' volume in a 16 beat finish - something that left some of us purple faced and in urgent need of CPR. The audience loved it and I believe (pun intended!) that a number of the audience were in tears at the end of it and for all the right reasons. I really am kicking myself for not taking the camcorder along to record it, as it is impossible to tell how it sounds from within the choir, but I suspect that this will become CSS's traditional final song for a while, so there should be more opportunities to record it. 

With April's concerts out of the way, May is the time to learn some new stuff. Like  Linden Lea, For example which seems a nice little song and just so happens, by sheer coincidence I'm sure, to be among the selection of songs required for ABRSM Grade 5 Singing! Then there's a potential duet with Anna-Ruth which should be fun, though my operatic singing voice needs serious work. And I'm not entirely convinced that Brindisi, the 'Drinking Song' from La Traviata is the wisest choice for a Methodist Church!

Now, on April 28th was another concert from Enchanted. The original venue in Wilne was cancelled very late on due to flooding in the area which meant there could've been serious problems actually getting to the Church. But rather than cancel the concert altogether, a switch was hastily arranged to Draycot Methodist Church. We all feared a tiny audience at best, but these fears proved unfounded as a pretty much full house assembled by the start time. So a big pat on the back to all concerned with the venue switch!

Enchanted were exceptional again. Pretty faultless performances form all the girls I thought. The soloists, Holly, Olivia and Anna-Ruth were quite excellent. Each of their voices continue to develop and it's wonderful to hear. Also in the concert was the guest soloist for the night, the bass/baritone voice of Robert-John Edwards. Ruth, the girls and I had the benefit of hearing Rob rehearse at Caroline's house prior to going to the concert and he was impressive even then, but in the concert proper, he was something else entirely.

As I have said on numerous occasions, I hope in time to really 'perform' a song rather than merely sing it. Well, here was a singer to truly aspire to. The poise, stage presence and abundant confidence with which Rob performed was quite inspirational. Here was a master at work. The subtlety of tone and expression I could only marvel at and take a mental note of. It might take me a while, but I'll get there with a little patience and determination.

Concert engagements are now coming thick and fast and I love it! Tonight at St Michael's Church, Sutton Bonington is another Enchanted concert together with the Sutton Bonington Voices, with the concert being in aid of Christian Aid. So it should be a cracking evening, particularly as it will be my birthday!. I'd like to say it is a concert specially to celebrate my 21st birthday, but that would be a lie. As would the number 21!

On the following night it will be my turn as the Loughborough Male Voice Choir presents it's latest concert from Trinity Methodist Church. Entitled 'A May Sing - Music for a May Evening' we will be joined by the Loughborough CE Primary School Choir. With the young school choir performing and a possibly young audience too, the concert starts at the earlier time of 7pm, so don't be late folks!

One other thing before I go. A week or so ago, a booklet about the next Leicester Festival came through our letter box and curiosity got the better of me. Should I, or shouldn't I? Enter that is! It seems that support for such festivals is on the decline a bit, so perhaps I should, if only to boost the numbers a bit! Nah, who am I kidding! If I enter, I'm in it to win it matey! As the festival is in November that will coincide nicely with Caroline's annual pupils concert, so if I could do a song that would be suitable for both, that might work without giving me any extra to learn. Hmm, should prove an interesting challenge and another test of my confidence/nerves!

Oh, before I forget, Ruth has produced a blog in preparation for the upcoming,  first ever, 'Enchanted Tour'. For details click here.

Better go as I desperately need to learn the words to Myfanwy seeing as Chris Hill has thrown it into the programme late with the additional requirement to sing it without copies! Er, thanks Chris!

See y'all soon,