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?      

Wednesday, 15 November 2017

Newsletter 15 November 2017

Socializing with ReChoired

Dear all,
We're now getting stuck into our new year and there are lots of plans afoot. We've also had a couple of amazing events recently.
First of all, ReChoired, a super smaller choir from Denmark joined us in October for a concert, a workshop and plenty of socialising. Read details here.
Then two weeks ago the choir had a weekend away at the lovely Rydal Hall. Last time we went it was summer and we had particularly good weather. We did wonder what it might be like in the winter. We needn't have worried. It was just as good. Read more details here.     
As you can see, we’ve been busy. And we're getting busier.

Forthcoming Events

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.    
18 November Christmas Markets Some of us are supporting sister choir Honour, singing at the Christmas Markets. From 5.30.  
3 December  Christmas Markets Again we'll be supporting Honour at the Christmas Markets. 5.30.

10 December Moodswings Arndale Centre We'll be singing in the Arndale Centre to support the charity Moodswings, starting at about 1.30. After that we'll be singing in Waterstones in the Arndale Centre.     

12 December Christmas Markets We're singing at the Christmas Markets from 5.30.    

13 December Kidscan We'll be supporting Kidscan at The Wharf, 6 Slate Wharf, Castlefield, Manchester, M15 4ST, 7.30 until 8.30. This is a very informal event but if you're in the area pop along, and if you can, support Kidscan. Kidscan is a cancer research organisation, specialising in treatment for children's cancer. It has a strong Salford connection, in particular with the university. As do many of us.        

11 February MACC - Manchester Amateur Choral Competition  Yes, we'll be there again. This is an all-day event and audience tickets are £10.00. Save the date and come and support us. Read about our history with the MACC here.
Also, save the date: 7 July 2018 Buxton – our annual trip to the Buxton Fringe. Details in next newsletter.

Also coming shortly:

More work for Kidscan, and more concerts, including with other choirs. Details yet to be finalised.  Watch this space!     

Talking of sister choir Honour

Congratulations to Honour on the recent successful Kickstarter compaign. You can read all about it here.  I looked at it about an hour ago - and not only was it complete then, when I looked a couple of minutes ago it had gone up again! There's still time to get involved.    
Happy singing and listening, everyone. 

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Monday, 6 November 2017

Autumn, Rydal and Singing

"I think I almost prefer it when the sky is grey and moody," I say.
"Yes, I know what you mean." 

You can't help but think of Wordsworth and the way nature in this part of the world both spooked and inspired him.  

We are enjoying a lovely lunch and looking at the view from the dining room at Rydal Hall. As ever, we are really well looked after. The food is sublime, the bedrooms and common rooms spotless and tastefully decorated and the staff efficient, effective and caring. They're busy but they always find time for a chat.   

We've been before.  Read about our previous visit here.  It was slightly different experience as it was summer then and we were very fortunate with the weather. Yet this autumn visit is just as enchanting.  
On Saturday afternoon we take a break. I stay behind to chat to one of the ladies who works at the house. All of the others go off on various walks.  I've suddenly realised there is a very strong connection between Rydal and some research I'm doing. But where does the time go?  After what feels like a few moments there are voices in the entrance hall, and cake and teas as well, of course. 

"Relaxing walk, you said? We've done six miles and we were actually singing on the uphill bit. I need cake!"      

And we sing and sing, of course. 

Jeff puts us through our paces. "We're plugging the gaps," he says. Indeed, we try out quite a few pieces that are considerably different from what we normally do. Great fun and rather beautiful, in fact. Our music reading skills are thoroughly exercised. That's good, though.  

There is more singing on Friday evening as John and Paul (no, not the Liverpool lads but two of our very own basses) entertain us with their guitars and voices, soon to be joined by Ella and Marilyn. On Saturday evening Marilyn leads us in a sing-song of various Beatles' and Abba songs.

After dinner on Saturday we put on a mini-performance for the only other two guests at Rydal. We're just outside the office so the staff – who are still there at past eight o'clock – can hear us too. We include one song we've only just learnt – and it works! 

As ever it is mainly about the singing. As well, there is always something very companionable about singing with a choir. You're with a bunch of people you trust and you're working together to perfect something. Egos disappear. 

There are several extras, though, when you come to Rydal: the lovely surroundings, the beautiful old house, the generous hospitality, delicious food, a pleasant drive home and of course – cake!