Sunday, 28 October 2012

One for the ladies?

We have arrived at that time of year when the singing engagements start to come thick and fast. A mere fortnight since the Trinity concert with the ladies from Merthyr Tydfil we followed that up on Saturday 27th October, with a concert for the Ladies Circle at Barrow-on-Soar Methodist Church. This concert was to form part of their 'Ladies Week' and would be in aid of 'Rainbows'. The date was added at rather short notice, but what the heck. The only problem, for me at least was the special request from the ladies that we sing Morte Criste, a song from our 'back catalogue' that has not been sung for a while. Not a problem for the members of long standing, but it meant a new song to be learnt in 48 hours for all us relative newbies!

But first things first. Saturday morning at 10 o'clock 'Sharpe' it was a Caroline Sharpe Singers rehearsal. This little group is blossoming into a pretty damn good choir now I think, particularly with the addition of a certain Chris Higgins. Chris, a rather fine bass singer from the male voice choir was keen to expand his horizons and after seeing us in action at a concert earlier in the year, decided to give it a go. Welcome aboard Mr Higgins and you've certainly added a quality start to Do You Hear the People Sing?, much to the obvious approval of a certain few of the ladies in the choir, who shall remain nameless - for now! ;-)

Anyway, with the CSS rehearsal done, I could then concentrate my attention on the evenings concert in Barrow. Us chaps were to be joined by guest soloist for the evening, Olivia Thornber - she of Enchanted fame. This gig was going to be slightly different in that there would be no interval, just a simple run through the programme and then a few nibbles afterwards. I gave Olivia and Jonathan a lift to the venue and we were ready to assemble at about half six. What many of the choir didn't know was that Lyndon Gardner had been approached to take on the unenviable task of being stage manager, to try and get us all assembled in a suitable formation within the somewhat limited available space. It shouldn't be too difficult, but getting a bunch of men to sit where they are told is no easy task. Lyndon's teaching experience no doubt proved invaluable in bringing the unruly rabble to order without the need for detentions or any form of corporal punishment! One good thing about this concert was that we could assemble on stage and stay there with no trailing on and off stage every few minutes. Bliss!

Right, off we go with Stout Hearted Men and Vive l'amour, which both went well. The acoustics were very different from Trinity and as Lyndon had advised, there was a need to not try to sing louder to make up for the less helpful acoustics. Following us it was the turn of Olivia Thornber to sing her first two songs, Voi che Sapete by Mozart, followed by Somewhere from West Side Story. These she sang beautifully. It is quite amazing to see and hear how much Livvy's voice has developed in the last year or two. She and  Enchanted's Holly Coutts and Anna-Ruth Gray ought to have big, big futures in the world of music if there is any justice. But then, I am a tad biased I suppose!

So from the absolutely sublime to the totally ridiculous! Next came the two living legends of Loughborough Male Voice Choir, Tom Carter and Gerald Morling to give us their 'unique' rendition of  A Policeman's Lot is Not a Happy One from G & O operetta The Pirates of Penzance, complete with helmets and truncheons. Wot a larf! Unlike their earlier rehearsal, I think they actually remembered all the words, or maybe they just made it up? Either way, it went down a storm with the audience. Nice one chaps!

The lads then rose to their feet to sing Bridge Over Troubled Water and the folk song Pleasant and Delightful. Both of these went really well I thought and my solo verse in the latter is almost routine now and heaven forbid, I even tried to sing it with a bit of expression. Well, only a bit granted, but at least my 'startled rabbit' look is going, albeit slowly.

Lyndon Gardner then sang two very contrasting songs. The first a rousing and powerful song and the second the guitar accompanied piece, first heard at the last concert at Trinity. It's not written for guitar but it really works and it was a noticeably more confident performance from guitarist Dave Weston too!

Next up was the choir again singing firstly Bushes and Briars, which is slowly coming together for me personally.It is definitely, the most difficult piece of all to sing, but I'm improving, slowly. Following that came Is this the Way To Amarillo? which is a lot more polished than last year, but still with room for improvement, but I think that will always be the case with this one.

Olivia then returned to the stage to sing Stay Well by Kurt Weill and Love's Philosophy by Quilter. Again, Livvy sang superbly. Classy stuff lass!

That just left the male voice choir to round things off with Morte Criste and You'll Never Walk Alone. Morte Criste was a serious examination of my sight reading ability, having only obtained a copy of the music on Thursday evening! I got through it reasonably well I thought and  my voice crumbled right at the very end of the final song's climactic finish!

So a pretty fine concert that had a bit of everything. The lads did well, Olivia was fabulous, as was Lyndon accompanied by Dave. Tom & Gerry, sorry, Gerald, were hysterical and the audience went home happy. Well done all.

My next concern is learning some songs for Leicester Festival and Caroline Sharpe's annual pupil concert in November.  No peace for the wicked!

Until next time,


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