Sunday, 30 December 2012

That Was The Year That Was: 2012

Well that just about wraps it up for 2012 and what a year it was. If ever a year contained a varied mix of the good, the bad and the downright ugly, then 2012 was it. As the clock ticks away towards New Years Eve and the promise of a fresh start, it is time to take a leisurely look back at the year almost gone and reflect a little.

So good people, settle down with a glass of that Christmas *Single Malt/Cointreau/Baileys (* - delete where applicable) and take a look back at 2012. . . .

2012 commenced with singing goals revised and early rehearsals for the LMVC / Enchanted concert at the Duchess Theatre, Long Eaton on January 26th. This was an ambitious concert, not least because we needed to generate our own audience out of nothing. As the night approached, there were no guarantees, but we were hopeful of some of the populace of Long Eaton turning up. In the event, they did. Not in huge numbers, but at least respectable. This concert also saw the debut of the bow-ties, handkerchiefs and  albeit soon to be ditched cummerbunds. Audience feedback was positive for all but the latter. A great gig in a splendid venue - to be repeated in 2013 I hasten to add.

On a personal level, early 2012 proceeded with a guillotine raised above my head. Redundancy loomed as the A46 Improvements neared completion. A stay of execution was granted until April at least. Meanwhile preparations for my first ever singing exam (ABRSM Grade 4) continued with a couple of rehearsals with my exam accompanist, Nest Harris. I was amazed and humbled by the stunning sound of Nest's piano.

ABRSM Grade 4 Singing Exam arrived all too quickly and brought a good PASS. Caro Mio Ben, An Die Laute and Do I love You Because You're Beautiful? were sung pretty well, while the unaccompanied folk song Barb'ra Allen went less well. But an excellent experience and maybe repeated with Grade 5 next year?

Okay, so not the greatest month of my life! Made redundant by Balfour Beatty on Friday 13th, yes, Friday the 13th April. With no sign of another job in the pipeline I went to the Jobcentre to sign on. The spectacle of two youths swearing and throwing half full beer cans around the Jobcentre did not offer encouragement for the coming weeks and months! On the positive side, another concert came along - at St Helena's Church, West Leake, with a concert entitled 'All in the April Evening', because it was in April you see?
Later in the month was the second concert from Caroline Sharpe Singers in which I sang On the Street Where You Live. Nervous as usual, but better, I think.
I also went with Ruth and Anna to Manchester to see Phantom of the Opera starring the phenomenal John Owen Jones as the Phantom. Bloomin' marvelous it was!

Two concerts in consecutive days mid-May, with enchanted in Sutton Bonnington followed by LMVC at Trinity MCC. To round off the month the LMVC performed their now traditional open air concert in the Bandstand in Queen's Park Loughborough. At the latter, that scally-wag Chris Hill threw in Pleasant & Delightful at the last moment causing panic in yours truly and I thus forgot my words. Doh!

At the end of June CSS presented their summer concert from the Baptist Church in Woodhouse Eaves, together with Enchanted. A splendid concert that featured amongst other highlights, a duet of Brindisi by my good self and Anna-Ruth. This was a triumph if only for the reason that I forgot a bit, but kept going by making up some roughly Italian sounding gobbledy-gook. Bravo!

July - August:
A long, damp jobless summer made bearable by a holiday in Wragby, several weddings to sing at in Prestwold and Wymeswold and a fabulous tour of Norfolk by Enchanted. This turned out to be a superb few days with tales of concerts, Travelodges and broken down minibuses.

After puzzling over how to increase the male voice choir's numbers for quite a while, upon our return in early September we were boosted by a sudden influx of new members. This was to be a feature of the autumn as the LMVC enjoyed something a recruitment bonanza. Oh, and I actually had some paid work, a modest 7 days back on the A46 for Balfour Beatty. Better than a slap in the chops though!

LMVC's first concert of the season was at 'home' with special guests the Merthyr Tydfil Ladies Choir. This will be followed in 2013 with a reciprocal trip to Merthyr Tydfil. Later in October we presented a concert at the Barrow upon Soar Methodist Church for the Ladies Circle in aid of 'Rainbows'. Guest soloist for this concert was Enchanted's Olivia Thornber who was superb.

What A Month! Firstly, I got a job - a lucrative if temporary job working for White Young Green (WYG) at their office in Anstey. Should last well into 2013 thankfully. Then competed in the Leicester Festival both as a soloist and with LMVC. While my solo was err, average, the LMVC won the W.H. Russell Shield. Hoorah! Later in the month was Caroline Sharpe's Annual Pupil Concert featuring Enchanted, Caroline Sharpe Singers and solo performances, duets and even a trio. The latter was me, Ruth and Michelle Oldale with a rendition of a traditional Irish folk song, She Moved Through The Fair which was excellent. After last years solo debut, this time I Sang My Favourite song from Les Miserables, Bring Him Home. Definitely my best solo performance yet by a long way.

Crazily busy December with festive engagements aplenty. LMVC sang at the Parish Church's Christmas Tree Festival with Viva la Musica followed by a concert in Kegworth with Caroline Sharpe as guest soloist. Then of course there was the obligatory appearances at Sainsbury's and Carillon Court plus a first time at Tesco in The Rushes which was great. Caroline Sharpe Singers presented their Christmas concert in a return trip to Woodhouse Eaves. All that was left was for a repeat of last year's Carols at the Carillon on Christmas Eve. Unlike last year,the weather this time was lousy. Rain, rain and more rain! But we still had an audience and a sizeable choir that really enjoyed themselves. Same time next year everybody!

And that was it. Trying to summarise that little lot just goes to show what a lot of stuff was crammed into the twelve months. It was certainly a great year for both the Loughborough Male Voice Choir and the Caroline Sharpe Singers. For me it was a difficult year made bearable thanks to my singing and the support of Ruth, who kept me sane and spurred me on to achieve the above vocal triumphs. Caroline Sharpe's unwavering support and belief was the inspiration to achieve the seemingly impossible, not just for me but many in the choir too. 

So what will 2013 bring? Well, there is likely to be a Grade 5 Singing exam in the spring, Coalville Festival, a trip to Merthyr Tydfil, Leicester Festival  more concerts, more weddings and who knows what else?

Stay tuned and in the meantime have a happy and prosperous New Year!


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