Because I’m always so busy teaching from my little studio in Skipton, I rarely get chance to promote the events that I am involved with, let alone go on to write about them afterwards. This year has been a typically busy one, what with playing in the band for Skipton Musical Theatre Company’s run of The Addams Family, Sutton Green Hut Theatre Company’s ‘Jack and the Beanstalk‘ pantomime and lots of events with various choirs and other groups.
But, there are two performances I think it’s worth reflecting on here: the very first ‘gigs’ performed by the brand new WI North Yorkshire West Foundation Rock Choir (how’s that for a catchy name??).
Actually, it’s a bit more complicated than that. The WI North Yorkshire West Foundation Rock Choir is actually made up of three smaller choirs: one led by Mark Hunter, another led by Kay Bromhead and yet another that I lead. It was originally conceived (by Pauline Bowman, the Women’s Institute Federation Chairman, and Heather Stoney, Chairman of Arts and Leisure) that these three groups would rehearse separately, each with its own Musical Director, and then come together as one large group for special events. My group rehearse in Hellifield every Wednesday, and is open to any member of a local WI.
Last Monday, the three small groups met one another for the very first time, in Hellifield. There they were arranged into a ‘massed choir’ and began to sing together. They had rehearse three pieces to sing together, plus one more each that they would perform as an individual ensemble. It was clear very quickly that the three groups would take no time at all getting to know one another and ‘gel’ as a choir. After a morning of rehearsals and mince pies, we all went over to Gargrave Village Hall where there was a WI Christmas Dinner going on – our brand new choir (just hours old!!) then performed for the ladies as they had coffee and digested their meals. And, it went down a storm with some really positive feedback coming straight back to us. The three of us who led the choirs (and acted as piano accompanists for one another) felt really proud of the achievement made by the ladies of the choir, and of how well everything had been organised by Heather.
Having ‘smashed it’ in Gargrave, our new choir seemed much more confident and ready to take on their next big performance: a Christmas carol service at Ripon Cathedral. This took place yesterday afternoon – the choir sang the carols along with the congregation, then got up to the alter to perform their three collective pieces: John Rutter’s Angels Carol, Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah, and the well-known festive song Mary’s Boy Child. The venue was wonderful – a really lovely room that carried the singers’ voices into every corner. Again, the three MD’s were also charged with playing piano for each other. This turned out to be a bit more challenging because the piano was placed behind the choir, and so the pianist and MD couldn’t actually see one another during the performance. But, we managed really well, and the ladies of all three mini WI choirs did themselves proud.
So, we now look forward to January and the opportunity to work on more songs, many of which have been chosen by the WI ladies themselves. I’ll be starting work on Lean on Me, in addition to lots of other popular songs.
Oh, and before I leave this blog post, it’s also worth mentioning that my other choir, the Carleton Ladies Choir, will be performing this evening at Skipton Baptist Church. It’s a candlelight carol service in aid of Skipton Cancer Support, and begins at 7pm. Please join us if you can!