Another great year of singing memories for many of us. Thank you all for being part of it. I cannot imagine my life without the friendship and pleasure of singing with others….. Larks, TLC, Shropshire Harmony (West gallery) Ludlow choral society, Lale, (Georgian trio with Liz and Frankie), gathering with other choir leaders in Shrewsbury, workshops and singing picnics. We even managed a Polisumi sisters reunion and sing this year which got the brain cells rattling!
MAY ….Singing the gorge
In May I once again lead a singing walk around some of the heritage sites in Ironbridge Gorge, organised by the Severn Gorge Countryside Trust, www.severngorge.org.uk. We sang in the woods, in the squatters cottage and tin tabernacle at Blists Hill and in the magnificent brick kilns at Coalport Museum and along the Sabbath walk through swathes of wild garlic and laburnum trees to the spectacular Rotunda view point. Each year I write songs that honour the working people of the Gorge and choose other songs to go with each site. I’m doing it again on May 13th 2016 and it’s a day I really look forward to. Numbers are limited so get in touch with the Severn Gorge Trust if you fancy coming along.
JUNE…. Big sing in Ludlow for the fringe festival
During the fringe festival in Ludlow about 9 choirs from in and around Ludlow met to sing round the town. We took it in turns to sing a few songs at various points in the town following a grid brilliantly worked out by one of the Larks, Jenny. We met at the Womens Centre for a picnic lunch and then practised our two massed songs, Ke Arona and Let’s Dance. Then we trooped out to the sunny Market Square and, after some delightful singing from Ludlow Infants school, we sang the two songs while a crowd gathered. It really was a great occasion and hopefully inspired a few on- lookers to join one of the many choirs in the area.
TENBURY LIBRARY CHOIR
In early July Tenbury Library choir performed their summer concert, with solos and readings at Tenbury Methodist Church. The choir sang brilliantly and we were treated to a solo spot from Celia and John who left a few days later to move to Cornwall. Money raised was split between Parkinsons UK and the church. Next year in November will be the choir’s fifth year of being together and I dare say there will be a party!
We had our usual August lunch and knees up in Kim and Rob Hurst’s barn and a walk around the garden, stuffed with gorgeous flowers.
A Christmas sing downstairs in the library rounded off the choir’s fourth year. Such a lovely group of supportive people it would be hard to find and the singing gets better and better.
Another lovely annual event is the singing picnic organised by Mary Keith and other choir leaders in the area, at Wistanstow village hall. We started at 1pm, with choir leaders teaching songs and sang till about 3.30 and then ate from the tables outside, groaning with shared tea time goodies! Once again the weather was kind, and after eating, games and lounging on rugs in the neighbouring field provided an opportunity to chatter with people from other choirs. Back inside, Mary Keith taught us Birds in the Dawning as the closing song which has become a firm favourite with both my choirs. The date is fixed for 2016 singing picnic at Sunday July 17th.
Larks July concert
Larks summer concert has become a firm fixture in the Ludlow calender and once again we sang to a full house. Despite a fairly desperate dress rehearsal the concert was brilliant! We were very pleased to have The Men From Off joining us again and sang a song called “Out of the Deep” with them which we had hastily and somewhat chaotically rehearsed a few weeks before! It sounded great! We wended our way as usual to join the lads at their Sunday evening rehearsal in Bishop’s Castle, a week before and all sang Ke Arona and Let’s Dance together for our concert. Our two men, Norman and Mike, were heartily glad to have their ranks swelled by another 12 voices! We raised over £600 for Ailsa’s well fund which means that we have raised enough to have our very own named well in Mahaque, Mozambique. So proud to be part of this amazing project. Once again, we are very grateful for the support of the Methodist Church who donate the church hire and refreshment donations to the fund too. A trip to the Thai bar with the lads rounded off another great night. I was sad that my Mum, who has been to every concert we have done was unable to be there as she couldn’t get a lift. A Christmas party with friends and family and some carol singing round town with the choral society rounded off another good year.
Next year will be the eighteenth year of Larks choir and I couldn’t ask for a nicer bunch of people to sing with.
Larks October concert at Bourton
We don’t usually do two concerts a year but one of our choir asked us to perform in a beautiful old church at Bourton, with a west gallery. Lots of communal singing was our brief from the organisers so we obliged and were generally met with smiles and singing. One or two of the farmers were not quite so keen but at least they didn’t run away. Frankie, Liz and I, who call ourselves Lale, sang three Georgian songs which were warmly received by the audience! It was our first public performance and I hope will be the start of many more. Loads of lovely cakes and wine helped to make a very pleasant evening and, as ever, Larks sounded great!
Singing camp at Oak Barn
This weekend has been a going for 17 years and it’s so good to see old and new friends. It’s something I really look forward to and this year I was so grateful for a huge amount of support in running the weekend from Lisa, Antonia, Jenny, Hazel, Milly, umpteen volunteers and of course, Sue Harris. A break in the wet weather on Saturday for Sue’s singing walk on Clee Liberty Hill was wonderful. We missed Ros Thomas who is taking some time out from teaching but hope she will be back with us next year when the camp will be July 29th-31st
AUGUST Spooky men
The biennial visit from the Spooky Men’s Chorale again this year meant they were hoved up at Oak Barn for a couple of nights, with some arriving a few days before. So good to see and hear them all again and I was treated to a spooky sound bath before they left! They did a stonkingly good concert at the Assembly rooms and everyone left with big smiles, as usual. They go from strength to strength.
October church crawl (Amazing Places to Sing)
For the last five years I have organised a church crawl in the autumn and this year was wonderful again. Ten of us gathered at Oak Barn and shared songs, food and laughter, and the odd glass of wine! On Saturday we visited several churches and on Sunday morning went to our old favourite, Heath Chapel and in the afternoon joined a rehearsal of the West Gallery Choir, Shropshire Harmony, in Clungunford Church. Date for 2016 coming soon.
DECEMBER….SHROPSHIRE HARMONY concert
Several members of Larks now sing in this monthly choir, with some on instruments too, with people from all over Shropshire and one or two from Cheshire! Led by Sue Harris, we go from strength to strength and on a wild, windy night, gave a concert at Clungunford Church. Local people provided a huge amount of tea and cake in the interval and it was a splendid evening.
We sing and play music from the old church repertoire of the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries before organs and choir boys took over church music. They would normally perform in raised west galleries in churches and were sometimes argumemtative and drunk on a Sunday morning! If we can find a church with a surviving west gallery we love to perform there, but we are sober! At least until after the concert!
MARCHES WORLD MUSIC CHOIR
Early in the year I started a new wednesday evening monthly choir, inbetween two larks weeks, called the MARCHES WORLD MUSIC CHOIR. The aim was to teach slightly more challenging songs for those who wanted to stretch themselves musically but couldn’t commit to a weekly or fortnightly choir. I sometimes provide written music although the songs are taught orally as well. After a bit of a tenuous start, numbers have started to increase and the choir is now about 15 and are sounding truly wonderful. We have tackled some Eastern European songs, British folk songs, John Bell’s Kyrie and Gitika Partington’s beautiful arrangement of “We shall overcome”. Many more good songs are waiting in the pipeline.
For the last few years I have been meeting up with friends Frankie Rickford and Liz Mars to sing songs from Georgia. Both of them are very experienced singers of Georgian songs, have a huge repertoire and have travelled to Georgia. I am very grateful to them for teaching me so many wonderful songs. This year we finally performed in public and I hope we do more in the future!
WHAT’S IN STORE FOR 2016?
Lots of singing I hope!….concerts, singing camp, singing picnic, street singing day, church crawl and in April Julie Felix is in concert in Clee St Margaret Village Hall, on Saturday April 23rd.
Thank you all for being part of this singing community and happy new year!!
Polly firstname.lastname@example.org 01584 823604