Monday, 21 May 2018

Off to the 24th World Scout Jamboree - fund-raising concert 12 May 2018

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It's all starting at Brunswick parish Church. Folk dressed in black start arriving and carrying what must be cake, mustn't it? Mysterious boxes, and plates covered in foil.

We have new flowers. Roses or carnations. We opt for the roses today. Some people sniff them. They're so convincing you'd expect a scent.   

The sun is shining so brightly now that we have to shut the blinds so that the tenors don't have to wear sunglasses. It sets the mood. 

We complete our run through and the audience starts arriving. They're so warm and friendly that we relax too. 

We knew it would happen, of course:  "I always like to get them to have a go at a song we've only been working on for a short time," says Jeff.
We do two in fact: Sway, with its strong rhythms and increasing speed and Everything I do, a pretty, relaxed song. We bring back an old one, Deep River; it's been requested for tomorrow's concert.
Our forty minutes is soon over. During the interval there are lashings of homemade cake and perfectly brewed tea. "I'm going to pop, I think," says one choir member. The rest of us have no sympathy. He's has four different pieces of cake on his plate.
Yes, not only do we sing but we bake cake as well. There is more than enough for all of the audience and all of the performers. In fact there's even some left over for the next day.   
It is so nice to sit back after the interval and enjoy the fabulous performance of the Nim Quartet from Chetham's School of Music. They play individually and as a quartet. The pianist who accompanies the soloists also plays an impressive solo. They may be talented and have the right aptitudes for the instruments they play but that would never be enough. It's clear here that these young people have also worked hard and that they love what they're doing – and I expect despaired of it now and then but come back to it. It is lovely to see them quietly confident but not at all ostentatious in their relationship to their audience. A fine range of pieces, too.  
The concert has been arranged by one of these young people.
All proceeds go to sending a scout to the 24th World Jamboree and will also help scouts from third world countries. A substantial proportion of what is needed is raised today. We feel so privileged to have been asked to help with this.                                          

Concert at St Mary and St Philip Neri, Radcliffe, 13 May 2018

Concert  at St Mary and St Philip Neri, Radcliffe, 13 May 2018


Another afternoon of singing and cake. 

We gather in the car park. It's almost too nice to go inside. 

"I did ask Father if we could roll the roof open but it was no go," says Jeff. 

There are the usual questions: will we get an audience, will there be enough cake, will we sing all right? 

This is such a lovely building to sing in. It's beautiful even when you're standing at the front looking towards where the congregation sits. Hopefully we look fine as well. We're wearing the roses again. 

During the warm-up we try out The Blessing. "Just because the acoustics are so good," says  Jeff. "We won't sing it later."  

It does sound good in that space. It'll be nice when that's firmly in our repertoire. 

Well, there is plenty of cake. In fact a few people are able to take a little selection home yet we don't to take back a huge pile that is left over. So just right in fact. The church is almost full of appreciative people.  We must be singing all right because our audience clap a lot.

Oh yes, and we sing Sway, Everything I Do and Deep River of course. As well as many more.

There is a raffle with many lovely prizes as well.       

What a great way to spend a Sunday afternoon.

Sunday, 15 April 2018

News 15 April 2018

The year is rolling along nicely now and our calendar is filling up.
See details below.                  
You can also find details on our Facebook page and we’ll usually put links on Twitter as well.
At most of our events you can get tickets on the door. However, we do recommend getting tickets in advance where we offer this. It helps us and it guarantees that you won’t be turned away at the door. We’ve not had to do that yet but we’ve come close to it.    


22 April Concert by Honour, The Lowry, Aldridge Studio, 8.00 p.m.   

So, yes, the first event we'll mention is one by our sister choir, Honour. Many of our members are also members of Honour.  The event features new music by Manchester composer, Andrew J Smith, and specially commissioned spoken word, alongside some old favourites. Great War / World War I themes.  More details and how to book are found at

12 May Concert Brunswick Parish Church M13 9TQ

We join other performers here to help raise funds for a young person to travel to the World Scout Jamboree.  Cake and tea will also be provided.  The concert starts at 2.30 p.m.     

13 May Concert at St Mary & St Philip Neri Roman Catholic Church, Radcliffe, M26 4DG

The concert begins at 2.00 p.m. We have performed here before and have held a couple of rehearsals in this lovely space when our normal venue has not been available.  Read more about the Church here.      


7 July Buxton

As usual we're doing two concerts:
11.00 a.m. United Reformed Church, Hardwick Square East, Buxton, SK17 6PT
3.00 p.m. St Mary's Church Dale Road, Buxton  SK17 6LN
on SK17 6PT
Tickets are available here:  
And as usual there will be cake.
Like to see what we've done there in the past? Take a look here. 

8 September Victoria Baths Open Day   

14 October Victoria Baths Food Festival

On both occasions we'll be singing early afternoon. We've been here many times. It's an amazing building.  Read about our previous visits here.    
The Victoria Baths, Hathersage Road, Manchester M13 0FE, are well worth a visit in any case.  Read more about them here.  

Other events

We'll also be performing at the Chorlton Festival of Choirs on 16 June.


Monday, 12 February 2018

A Weekend of Singing – the MACC Concert and the MACC Competition


Bigger than last year the MACC concert is still relaxed and intimate though St Peter's Chaplaincy is almost full. We welcome Bristol Show Choir, Rossendale Male Voice Choir, Surrey Hills Chamber Choir, The Dales Community Pop and Show Choir and Crystal Chords. Choirs make great audiences for choirs. We're all pleased, though, that there are other people there as well.   

"It's so nice to perform without the pressure of a competition," was the refrain. 

Even within this sample of just six choirs there is such variety and each one is a delight to listen to and watch.  There is energy, control, clear sounds, precise harmony, professionalism and fun.  
Sunday comes and now there are nineteen choirs. As ever the RNCM is buzzing. Colourful costumes dazzle us. Choirs are ushered in and out of rehearsal spaces and green rooms, then on and off stage. Everyone's a little bit nervous and very excited. It all runs like clockwork. Volunteers aid and control us. There is another big event taking place. This building works well. 

We perform early on. Our three very different pieces work well for us and we rather take the judges by surprise as first of all we move down to be closer to them for our last song and then, on the very last line, our male tenors storm their desk to deliver "Tell me you do!" 

Each choir is given feedback straight after their performance. The three judges take it in turns. They give us all some positive notes first and then tell us what we can do to improve. I suspect for the latter they're highlighting what will make the biggest difference for next time. They have a hard job. Hours of concentration. The standard goes up each year. Every choir that we managed to watch had lots of good points. 

As the afternoon draws to a close the auditorium gets fuller and fuller. The atmosphere electrifies. Those who have to wait longest to perform have the compensation of a full and totally engaged audience.

The variety is delightful. What a nice way of spending a Sunday – performing together with friends, having lunch together and then relaxing and watching lots of  good singers. 

Well done to the winners and runners up!  

It is over all too soon. 

Roll on 2019.

Wednesday, 7 February 2018

Getting ready for the MACC

Photo from  MACC 2018 

Our first rehearsal after the Christmas break ends with a flash of lightening and a clap of thunder, almost simultaneous, and just after Jeff  has said, "I've worked you hard, haven't I?"  Yes, you have Jeff.

When we get out to the car park the ground and our cars are covered in snow. We slip and slide our way home. Some of our members who live far north of the city have not made it to rehearsal. I don't blame them. I hate travelling in the snow.  
Yesterday it tries to snow all day. It finally manages to do it properly at about 3.00 p.m. Oh dear. Great big flakes and it's now settling on the road. Then suddenly at 3.45 it stops and the sun comes out. We all get there and our rehearsal room is packed. 

"Don't get stressed because we're doing some parts over and over," says Jeff. 

"That will lose you five points," he says later.  

He points out what was wrong. We go through the song again. 

"Better. You've gone up five points." 

We find the positions where we're going to sing in in the competition.

"Here," I call to another female tenor. 

"That's fine," she says later, "but we're right in front of Jeff." 

I like that though: you can see what he wants you to do and you get instant feedback on what you're doing. "But that's good," I say.     

Yes, I know the words and the tune, and I can see the sheet music in my mind. But are my hands in the right place? Is my mouth the right shape? Are those vowel sounds good?  Will I be able to engage with the audience? Have I taken a deep enough breath?

Oh heck. You don't half have to multi-task when you belong to a choir. 

They've predicted snow for Sunday.  Get off. With that many people singing, snow doesn't stand a chance. 

We're a tad nervous but mainly excited. It's going to be great meeting all of those other choirs at both the concert on Saturday evening and the competition on Sunday.     

See you there?