Tuesday, 12 June 2012

Here we go a-wassailing!

Hey, I think I must be getting somewhere at last. Having looked in on several of Anna-Ruth's singing lessons with Caroline over the last year or so it has surprised me how many times she gets a bit of a 'tongue-lashing' from the Caz-meister. In my lessons I've only ever had smiles and words of encouragement when I've screwed up. Until now that is! I'm proud to announce that last week Caroline actually raised her voice when I came in too early. "Instead of singing, why don't you TRY BREATHING", she bellowed. I burst into tears and fled out of the room distraught.

Well, not really. It was a bit of a surprise though, but I guess it means the 'honeymoon' is over and there's no longer room for silly mistakes. Time to get your act together Al, concentrate and sing properly you fool! Singing 'properly', i.e. opening up, seems to happen sporadically for me which is frustrating. When I singa-longa-Pavarotti in the car I can do it, but when confronted by an audience of even one, I tighten up and it all sounds a bit feeble. Brindisi particularly requires 'proper' singing, but it is coming gradually. As the italian slowly sinks in to the point where I know the words with confidence, I hope the voice will respond accordingly in order to do Luciano proud come the gig, LATER THIS MONTH!?!

On Saturday 9th June I had the pleasure of being in the audience of a male voice choir concert for a change. Not the Loughborough Male Voice Choir you understand, but The Belvoir Wassaillers who were presenting a concert from All Saint's Church, Knipton in the Vale of Belvoir. Led by their musical director Robert John Edwards, here were a bunch of guys that clearly love their singing and have a lot of fun doing it and that really came over in the way they performed on the night. They presented a very different repertoire from that of the LMVC - rather more jazzy and less 'traditional' male voice choir stuff. It was very entertaining, particularly the folk songs at the start and the Beatles medley which included some very accomplished solos from several members of the choir. Equally entertaining were solo spots from mezzo-sopramo Elaine Bishop, bass Dominic Piri (of the Wassailers) and a certain soprano called Caroline Sharpe. Dominic was particularly impressive given that he's just completing his 'A' levels this year. If the lad can sing this well at such a young age goodness knows how good he can become. Remember the name everyone!

Caroline and Elaine did a superb rendition of Rossini's 'Cat Duet' with lots of hissing and a 'yellow card' from Rob half way through. Great stuff! The Wassailers rounded off the evening with their rendition of the Oklahoma Medley, which was very familiar to all us 'Enchanted' fans and Caroline and Elaine contributed the Kansas City and I Can't Say No solos. I must say I was disappointed at the lack of 'clip-clop' noises during The Surrey with the Fringe on Top, but never mind.

So another cracking concert with much dosh raised towards the repair of the venue's roof. Bravo! And if you are now gutted that you missed out, you will be able to catch The Belvoir Wassailers and Enchanted TOGETHER in a concert in Wissendine on 30th June. Both of them in one gig has got to be way too good to miss, hasn't it? For ticket info email belvoir.wassailers@gmail.com. Miss this one at your peril!

Cheers for now,

Friday, 1 June 2012

Sorelle Di Canto & Singing in the Park

As I mentioned last time, the diary is rather choca with family singing engagements right now and there's another two to tell you about now.

Last Saturday we had a concert at Saint Mary's Church, Sileby by Sorelle Di Canto. Comprising the stunning voices of Caroline Sharpe, Anna-Ruth Gray and Olivia Thornber, this trio were to present a quite brilliant concert. In fact it was still being talked about days later. It was really classy stuff that wouldn't have been out of place in a top city concert hall.

The first half was made up of sacred songs, opera arias and duets - slightly 'heavier going' as one member of the audience put it. I did sense that there was genuine surprise at the quality of the singing - it really was outstanding stuff.

Three sacred songs started the concert followed by four songs from Mozart's Marriage of Figaro preceded by Caroline's witty synopsis. Then Caroline sang two Puccini arias including my personal favourite, 'O mio Babino Caro'. To round off the first half were two duets - 'Barcarolle' and the 'Flower Duet' from Delibe's Lakme.

That first half wasn't without incident with the girls being tormented by a rather persistent fly buzzing around their faces. At one point Olivia swats the fly away in a very controlled manner while in mid song. Classy!

Interval meant time for a tart. A fruity tart no less. There's a pretty obvious and tasteless joke to be made here which I will stay well clear of - for now. Part two was rather more laid back and humorous. Four love songs preceded Chris Hill entertaining with a bit of Duke Ellington. Nice one Mr Hill! Then we had two hilarious G & S songs hilariously choreographed by Ruth, 'Three Little Maids' and 'Poor Wandering One'. Brilliant!

That was followed by a touch of Stars in Your Eyes as 'tonight Matthew', Caroline was going to be Michael Ball by singing two songs usually only sung by men - 'Music of the Night' and 'The Impossible Dream'. And it worked really well.

The last programmed song was 'A Word on my Ear', which required Caroline to sing horribly out of tune - something that's probably not as easy as it might seem. And finally the obligatory encore of 'Time to Say Goodbye'.

All in all a quite exceptional concert that raised quite a lot for the church funds. The only downside was that my winning raffle run came to an end after four successive wins. Hey-ho!

Then on the Sunday afternoon it was the turn of the Loughborough Male Voice Choir, presenting a selection of songs at the Queen's Park Bandstand in Loughborough. And for a change we had warm sunny weather. Hoorah! Sadly it was only a modest turn out of 13 choir members present, but the half choir made a good account of themselves I think. The good thing about the warm sunny weather is that a good audience is pretty much guaranteed and a good number came to watch and listen.

We sang our usual mix of old and new and it all went well until Mr Hill decided to throw in the folk song 'Pleasant and Delightful'. Now this was not included in any programme that I had seen so I was totally unprepared for my solo verse. In fact I didn't realise that was what we were to be singing until Chris Higgins started it off. I hurriedly tried to run thru my words in my head as I sang the chorus but couldn't for the life of me remember the all important last line. Oh well, hopefully it will come to me when it needs to, I thought. Well, it didn't. Sigh!

The result is there for friends on Facebook to see as Ruth was doing the page turning for Sue and was ideally situated to capture it all on film in all it's misery. On reflection, it wasn't half as bad as it seemed at the time and as Caroline says, it happens to everyone at some time. So I'll put it down to experience. That said, a quick note to Mr Hill - all I ask, the next time you fancy a bit of spontaneity, is for just 30 seconds for me to run through my lines in my head before we start? Ta very much!

So other than that little embarrassment it was another enjoyable concert in the park. Same time same place next year? I very much hope so!

One final thing before I go. A big WELCOME BACK to Peter Bateman who has been missed from the choir for a good few months after surgery to rebuild his knees. Well it was great to have you back on Thursday mate. We second tenors particularly have missed you!

Cheers for mow,