Polly’s singing news 2016-18


As my daughter and her partner have moved back here and she is using Oak Barn as her workshop and office for her new venture, Damson and Vine organic cut flowers, so it’s time to look back over the last two years or so of singing here and around the area. We won’t be using the barn for singing events and 2017 was the last singing camp here, and so after 18 years of singing and many other lovely events, we move back to gardening.

I’ll be focusing on my two lovely choirs and helping my daughter grow flowers and also volunteering at two local museums, Ludlow and Tenbury. I worked for a year in Warwick Museum in the 1970’s and have always loved museums so it’s great to get back into that work again after years of having very little spare time.

Tenbury Library Choir (TLC)
In November 2016 we celebrated 5 years of singing together with a pub meal and a superb cake made by Lisa, much jollity and some “turns”. We rang up librarian, Sally who started the choir off by approaching me over 6 years ago, and sang to her answer phone! Sally moved away a couple of years ago but she is still loved by all of us.
As usual the choir performed a summer concert and raised funds for the British Parkinson’s Association and the Methodist Church and we sang at Christmas in the library. A big thank you to everyone in the choir for being so much fun, for singing so beautifully and being part of a cheery way to start the week.
In 2017 we again did a concert in the Methodist Church to an audience, mainly of family and friends and the usual superb buffet afterwards. Big thanks to the Tenbury Wells Methodist Church who are always very supportive of singing events. This year we have decided to forego a concert and instead sing at a local village fete somewhere in the area and eat cake and have fun!

Ludlow Larks
Larks is 20 this year! In April 2016 we had our 18th birthday party in Ludlow with huge amounts of food at the Blue Boar, a Larks quiz and some singing (of course). We performed our annual concert in July at the Methodist Church together with the hilarious “Men from Off”, from Bishop’s Castle, to raise funds for the Mahaque Well Fund, now on its sixth well! As usual the choir performed a cracking concert and just sound better and better each year.
This year’s concert in July was also really beautiful and much enjoyed by everyone. The choir surprised me by presenting me with a lovely huge bouquet made by my daughter!
For our Christmas treat for the last two years we have sung at Stanton Lacy church with mulled wine, shared goodies to eat, both in the beautiful church and the churchyard decorated with lights and candles in the trees.
Thank you Mike and Else for organising such special evenings.

Marches World Music Choir
This small choir of about 12 of us, which met monthly is currently having a break. We sang together for over a year, trying more challenging songs. It has been great to try out all manner of songs and singing styles and we may be back!

Singing the Gorge
For the last four years I have been asked to lead a singing tour around the World Heritage Site of the Ironbridge Gorge. About 14 of us are driven in a minibus by Cadi of the Severn Gorge Countryside Trust to various places in this fantastic landscape. In 2016 we sang at Blist’s Hill in the Squatters cottage and iron tabernacle, at the site of the old foundry, on the Iron bridge, along Sabbath walk to the Rotunda and of course in the bottle kilns of Coalport china Museum with their amazing resonance. It really is a lovely day and am pleased to say it was fully booked again in 2017 and we wassailed the Damson orchard, sang at the Quaker burial ground, under arches, in the community orchard and sang in those amazing Coalport bottle kilns again. This year we had Cadi of the Severn Gorge Countryside Trust and Kate, the Curator of the Coalport China Museum to give lots of information about this World heritage Site. Ironbridge Gorge in May has got to be one of my favourite places

This year I’ve been asked again and will be sorting out some new sites to sing in the Gorge as well as some old favourite places. It’s a great opportunity to honour with song all the working men, women and children who toiled in the foundries for so many centuries.

Ludlow Big Sing June 2017 Ludlow Fringe Festival
Back again for the third year as it’s so much fun. We were blessed with a scorching hot dry day, very different from last year. Last year we had to keep scurrying for cover to avoid torrential rain which gave rise to several impromptu rain themed sing alongs! (Despite these delays all 6 choirs managed to swivel around Ludlow town centre and avoid being in the same place as another choir.) We sang our two joint songs in the market place first and later assembled for tea and cake in the Womens Centre and each choir sang a song so we could at last hear each other!
Huge thanks to Bella Acapella, Ludlow Male Voice choir, Ludlow choral society, Lydbury North and Cleobury Mortimer choirs, Brown Clee Choir and of course TLC and Larks.

I’ve decided to take a break from organising the Big Sing but hope someone else will carry it on

Singing picnic at Wistanstow July 2016 and 2017
This has become a singing fixture in Shropshire. Organised by Mary Keith who runs the Mere singers in Shrewsbury, it is a chance to meet up with community choir members from a wide area and enjoy a sing and huge communal picnic. Choir leaders are invited to teach songs to the group and we can have up to a hundred voices,
singing away. The picnic break is a time to lounge in the sun and chat or snooze or play games which involve various degrees of energy! In 2018 the picnic will take place on Sunday July 15th 2pm till 6pm with food to share.

Singing Camp at Oak Barn
For the eighteenth year about 40 of us gathered here in Clee St Margaret for our annual singing weekend. Sue Harris and Ros Thomas joined me in teaching songs at the village hall and Sue once again led a singing walk up on to Nordy Bank Iron Age hill fort. A sing off soon developed! Shared food on Friday evening,Tahira’s Saturday night supper and Sue’s son’s superb lunches meant we had a weekend of food, fun and singing once again. I have so enjoyed these weekends and made many friends along the way.
Our last singing camp here in July 2017 was absolutely wonderful. Such great singing! We were denied our camp fire on Saturday night by a downpour but partied on in the barn. We will not hold the camp here again but move to another exciting site to carry on the fun!

The singing camp has moved to a great new site at Newcastle on Clun, near Offa’s Dyke. Sue, Ros and I will once again be leading the singing sessions and it promises to be a fantastic weekend.

Church Crawl October 2016
Our last weekend church crawl here was wonderful. We visited and sang in some lovely churches in Mortimer Country, including Leinthall Starkes, Leinthall Earls and Wigmore. I shall miss this event very much but there are plans afoot to move the event to Kinnersley Castle and explore the churches in that area. There are also plans to have day gathering in churches now and again.

“The Tiara is in the ditch”
This is the working title for another song-poem performance piece focusing on the remarkable lives of three women gardeners; Ellen Willmott, Gertrude Jeckyll and Hilda Murrall. Still sitting in my brain rather than on paper, but I hope to convene the old choir from “Out of the Land our Stories are Born” to perform once again. Lots of songs about flowers and gardens to choose from and I hope to do the rehearsal CD soon and have asked others to help me choose the poems and prose written by Victorian and Edwardian women. Still an on going project but the ideas are swirling in my head!


If you fancy trying out the church music of the 18th and 19th centuries, known as West Gallery music, do come along to one of our monthly sessions in Bishop’s Castle. We meet at 2pm on the 4th Sunday of the month. Singers and instruments very welcome. For details google Shropshire Harmony Quire.


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Polly’s singing news 2015

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


Singing in 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.



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.

JULY….Singing picnic

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


The well in Mozambique, built from funds raised by Ludlow Larks

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

Campfire - singing till dark

Campfire – singing till dark

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)

Richards Castle Old church, atmospheric and acoustically wonderful.

Richards Castle Old church, atmospheric and acoustically wonderful.

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.


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!


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!



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 info@oak-barn.co.uk 01584 823604

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Another year has sped by!

How do people do daily blogs? One or two a year is quite enough!

Lots of great singing events have been going on again this year but it’s been a bit of a year; anxiety about ageing animals and mother has prompted me to take a year off from organising concerts and workshops in 2015. But my two community choirs are my lifeline and keep me on the straight and narrow! Thanks to all of you who come along and support them and help keep me sane!


Tenbury Library Choir (TLC) and Ludlow Larks are going strong and both performed truly splendid, fully booked concerts in the summer. In June TLC sang in Tenbury Methodist Church on a lovely summer’s evening followed by tea and cakes in the little garden there. Larks did a wonderful concert in aid of the Mahaque Well Fund and raised about £800. Joined once more by the Men From Off from Bishop’s Castle, the concert has become a very well supported annual event in Ludlow. TLC has been closed to new members for several years because of the size of the room we sing in, upstairs in the library, but details of Larks dates can be found on www.jollypages.co.uk/larks or www.oak-barn.co.uk
Started by choir member, Ailsa, the Mahaque Well Fund now has sunk four boreholes in and around the village of Mahaque in Mozambique. At the end of this year’s concert the video of Ailsa’s 89 year old friend, Jean, doing a skydive for the fund was shown at the back of the hall. Very inspiring and eye-moistening stuff!


In July several members of both my choirs joined with lots of other singers and community choir members for the annual singing picnic at Winstanstow Village Hall. Organised by Mary Keith from North Shropshire, it’s a great way to meet and chat with other choirs and learn songs together. The shared food laid out on several trestle tables is a site to behold! The date is fixed for next year at July 19th.
The following weekend is our annual singing camp (see below).
Some members of Larks enjoyed a great weekend near Hay on Wye in October, walking, eating, singing and laughing! We managed a beautiful walk to a waterfall near Talgarth and had a sing in the splendid church there, after visiting the Mill café.


In May, I was invited to lead a singing walk in Ironbridge Gorge by the Severn Gorge Countryside Trust. Cadi Price, who runs the events and courses at their Ironbridge woodland site, drove me round a few weeks earlier to recky some of the wonderful places in that inspiring landscape. We visited the Coalport China museum, the tar tunnels, the Rotunda in Sabbath Wood with its magnificent vista, Blists Hill Museum and the Museum of Iron. Ironbridge Gorge is fascinating. I was looking for good acoustic and atmospheric places to sing and my friend, Gen Tudor from Radio Shropshire came with us and recorded as we walked around. Some of her recording was featured on Radio 4’s Pick of the Week and a few weeks later I was invited to appear on Mid Week, live from Hay on Wye! (My brief career as a radio raconteur seems to have come to an end, but it was fun while it lasted.)
I settled on several places to lead a group of 12 people in song in the Gorge; under a viaduct, the squatters cottage and corrugated iron tabernacle at Blists Hill, the Rotunda, through woods scented with laburnum and wild garlic and the huge bottle kilns at Coalport Museum which was like singing in a cathedral. I taught several songs before the walk, sitting in the woods, including a round I had written for the day called “Iron and Coal Made this Place”, a recording of which is now played at the museum for visitors.
Despite having vowed to have next year off, I couldn’t resist the invitation from Cadi to lead another on on May 15th 2015. The Gorge is a very special place and I have already written another song to celebrate the working men and women of that industrial landscape.


For several years I have been saying I will have to stop organising the summer singing camp as it’s getting harder and harder coping with my arthritis, but somehow the thought of not seeing our regular attendees and friends and meeting new folk makes me too sad to contemplate! This year was definitely going to be the last, I thought, but great support from an excellent team and all the help from participants has made me want to do it all again in 2015! I am hoping to find a group who will take over all of the lunch time catering and to set up the village hall. The rest is easy! Tahira made us a wonderful Saturday night supper and on Friday we had a veritable feast of shared food. Ros Thomas, Sue Harris and I taught songs on Saturday and Sunday and Friday night we had a shared song teaching session with big thanks to Liz, Fiona and Emily from Oxford. On Saturday afternoon Sue lead a singing walk over meadows and along green lanes to the Heath chapel. It was the hottest day of the year and a very sweaty, tired bunch arrived at the chapel for fruit juice and cake before a sing in the cool of the Norman Chapel. I think the camp was the best ever; relaxed and full of good humour and moments of sadness as we sang Ali Burn’s “May you see Diamonds” to remember Sue Tellier who had attended the camp for seven years. So next year we hope to do it all again on July 24th to 26th!


A few weeks earlier, at the end of June, I organised a concert for a women’s Georgian ensemble, Tabuni, in the Heath Chapel. A wet, cold evening, I was panicking about the field parking arrangements but all was well. The church, built and virtually unchanged since 1099, was packed with folk in the little box pews and on rickety chairs, to hear a fantastic concert from these four inspiring singers with a selection of three part polyphonic songs. The choir performed for expenses only and gave a generous donation to the Heath Chapel roof fund. Alas, no one from the local community was there to hear such splendid music ringing out over the adjacent medieval deserted village. The lack of support for Arts events in rural areas astounds and baffles me.


In early October I once again hosted Northern Harmony from the USA….one of the best world music choirs on the scene. This time they did an afternoon workshop as well as an evening concert both fully booked and greatly enjoyed. I found the catering for the choir and organising the event a bit much and have decided that if I do it again, I’ll get someone else to do the cooking and hall preparation. Must learn to delegate!!


Another event I would be loathe to give up is the annual “Amazing Places to Sing” weekend, now known as the “Church Crawl”. This was the fourth year and once again the weather was kind to us. We sang in two lovely old Churches on Saturday, Silvington and Stottesdon and started off in a wonderful primitive Methodist chapel at Blackford, on the side of the Brown Clee Hills.
On Sunday, bathed in Autumn sunshine we sang in the Heath Chapel and Clee St Margaret Church and ended in the vineyards of Clee St Margaret, accompanied by the mewing of a Red Kite! A lovely group of people and a great way to end a busy year and to contemplate my year off!


One of the most enjoyable singing projects I’ve been involved in for many year has been “Out of the Land our Stories are Born”. Over two years ago I asked my poet friend, Gill McEvoy to collaborate on our third song/poetry project, this time telling the stories of three historic South Shropshire women; Sarah Burton, midwife, Molly Morgan, twice transported to Australia, and Katherine More, whose children were forcibly removed from her and sent on the Mayflower to the New World. Gill wrote some wonderful poems and narration and I wrote songs or used traditional folk songs in this 45 minute program. I started rehearsing a choir of about 20 women from all over Shropshire and Wales in Sept 2013 and we did our first performance in Clee St Margaret Village Hall in 2014 on September 27th . It was very well attended and enjoyed by all and we did our second performance at Clungunford to a sell out audience, who again loved it. The choir and readers both sounded wonderful and my heart felt thanks go to all of them and of course to Gill. We have two more dates in April and June (as part of Ludlow fringe festival) and then may put the project to bed, but not before we have a big party!


I’ve been singing in this West Gallery choir now for about 4 years. Led by Sue Harris, it is a mixture of instruments and voices singing the old church music of the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, by the village bands. They were replaced by organs and choristers, but thank goodness, many people have researched old archives and there is now a huge repertoire of this roistering good music. If anyone fancies joining, we are always happy to see new members. Ability to read music to some extent is an advantage, but not necessary. We meet in or near Bishop’s Castle on the fourth Sunday in every month, except July and August. Do get in touch with me if you want more information.

Thank you to all of you who support the choirs, concerts and workshops and keep singing!

Polly December 2014

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Great concert with the Men from Off

Larks concert 2014.

The Larks have now raised a total of £900 for the Mahaque Well Fund of Mozambique!

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A lovely year

I’m writing this in the depths of a damp winter and looking back on all the lovely singing events of the last year really cheers me up!

Huge thanks to both my choirs for their generosity, good humour and willingness to sing anything I throw at them!

Tenbury Library Choir did a wonderful concert in November in Tenbury Methodist Church to raise funds for Air Ambulance and the church. We decided to go for a late afternoon concert on the Mistletoe day and were very pleased to get a full house, with much jostling for tea and cakes (provided by choir members) in the interval. We enjoyed being at the Church so much that we’ll be doing a summer concert there on Thursday June 12th 2014, 7.30pm tickets £5 sold on the door.

Ludlow Larks performed two great concerts last summer; on a wet windy evening in Abdon Church we sang our hearts out to a full house. The interval food prepared by locals was like nothing we had ever seen and even the raffle prizes had our eyes on stalks! The church had been beautifully decorated with summer flowers. The organisers enjoyed the choir so much they have invited us back to do another concert at the church this year, on Saturday November 3rd

Our summer concert was held as usual, at Ludlow Methodist Church, where, once again, church generosity allowed us to donate every penny to our charity. We were joined once again by the fabulous Men from Off and it wouldn’t be the same without them. We had a full house and with poems from Gill McEvoy and other choir members, ably coached by Judith, it was a splendid evening.

The proceeds from both concerts went to Ailsa’s Mahaque Well Fund, which has so far paid for two bore holes in Mozambique and is on the way to a third and has made us all very excited.

Edith suggested that I wrote a song about the wells which I did in the car on the way home from practice and it’s now part of our repertoire. We sent a recording of the choir singing it over to Jude in Mahaque. Ailsa visited Mahaque last year and when she returned we were able to see fantastic photos of her visit including village women wearing some of the jewellery the choir sent out to them. It’s wonderful to have this contact with this far away place.

This year our summer concert is on Wednesday July 23rd 7.30 at Ludlow Methodist Church, Broad St, Tickets £5 on the door, joined once again by the men from off

Sadly Ludlow New Voices folded last October, with many a tear in the eye, due to falling numbers. We had a great few years with a dedicated and fun group and Ros and I were very sorry to see the choir go but we hope they will all go on to sing for the rest of their lives and enjoy the fun of choir singing. They performed a very good concert in June with some very able soloists.

Shropshire Harmony

For several years I’ve been singing in a West gallery choir based at Bishop’s Castle, called Shropshire Harmony. Led by Sue Harris, the choir with monthly meetings is growing in numbers, with both voices and instruments. We performed a Christmas concert at Hopesay Church, occasionally singing in its West Gallery, and with a mountain of mince pies and much mulled wine, had a fine evening! We are always happy to see new people at both our rehearsals and workshops. This year on April 27th, we have Dave Townsend leading a once day workshop. Dave is recognised as one of the leading experts of West Gallery Music.

Details can be found at www.shropshireharmony.org.uk

Events and concerts

Oak Barn singing weekend at the end of July was one of the best ever, with workshops lead by Sue Harris, Ros Thomas, Mark Thomas and me. Despite a wet Saturday night, we crammed into the barn and sang and people did turns, with Gill once again having us in stitches! This year the weekend is July 25th-27th and song teachers will be myself, Sue Harris and Ros Thomas. Sue will lead a singing walk to the Heath Chapel where we hope to have a picnic and sing.

Church Crawl The annual Church crawl was once again a really lovely weekend with visits to churches at Hope Bagot and its magnificent yew tree, Whitton, our beloved Heath Chapel and a real jewel, a tiny chapel at Broadstone, tucked away in a field, near Munslow. The weather was glorious; warm and sunny and we enjoyed two picnic lunches. With shared food and shared song teaching, this is a wonderful weekend for me!

This year we will be church crawling again October 17th – 19th. I’ll have great fun over the summer seeking out new places to sing.

ON a crisp, cold day in  February, I hosted an Arts Alive event, Northern Harmony, from USA, a sell out afternoon concert. The young choir were breath taking and I enjoyed hosting them all at Oak Barn. They have asked to revisit us and will be at Clee St Margaret Village Hall on Saturday Oct 4th with a workshop and concert.

In October Julie Felix once again gave a concert at the Village Hall. It was at least 8 years since her last one. Her sell out concert was enjoyed by us all and her energy and memory for her huge repertoire of songs was amazing.

Other events…new for 2014

This year Shrewsbury Sing for Water will take place on June 28th, to raise funds for Water Aid, with massed choirs. Watch out for details.

On Saturday May 10th, choirs led by three choir leaders, including me, will meet near Hay on Wye for a communal sing and social. More details soon from Polly.

Out of the Land

On Saturday 27th September at Clee St Margaret Village Hall will be the world premier of “Out of the Land our stories are born”, will be performed. Devised by poet Gill McEvoy and Polly Bolton, we tell the stories in poems, narration and song, of three women living in South Shropshire in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries; Sarah Burton of Cold Weston, Molly Morgan of Diddlebury and poor Katherine More of More Hall. We are rehearsing  with a choir of about 25 to get ready for this performance, which we hope will be the first of many. Gill and I are really excited about the project and the choir are sounding great.

Watch this space!  www.oak-barn.co.uk

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August is drawing to a close and it’s time to get back in the vocal saddle soon!

I’ve got some great memories of a really good summer with lovely weather and some splendid singing events.

Tenbury Library Choir is in its second year and performed an excellent concert at Tenbury Wells Parish Church on June 1st. We invited the mayor of Tenbury and he very kindly wrote a lovely letter to the local paper saying how much he and his family enjoyed the evening. We scattered the songs with poems read by choir members and had two excellent young soloists. We raised £250 for each of our chosen charities, St Michael’s Hospice and Friends of Tenbury Hospital. Choir members organised wine and nibbles included in the ticket price. The church has good acoustics and the choir sang so well.

We had our end of term get together on a wet day in Kim and Rob Hurst’s barn, once again, with sumptuous food and the usual riotous good humour and songs.

We are performing a concert at Tenbury Methodist Church on Saturday November 30th.

Ludlow Larks performed two really wonderful concerts, one on June 15th at Abdon Church and our annual summer concert in July at Ludlow Methodist Church. Many thanks to all who sang and came to listen.

Abdon Church was beautifully decorated with flowers and local folk supplied the most interval food I’ve ever seen and it was delicious. We also had poems read by five choir members, chosen by the choir on the theme of “thankfulness”. Many thanks to Judith who chose the poems and organised the readers. The church was packed and they loved us! We’ve been invited back in autumn 2014 and the organisers said it was the best night they had ever had there!

A few weeks later we repeated the repertoire in Ludlow and the choir have never sounded better. We were joined once again by poet Gill McEvoy and the Men From Off from Bishop’s Castle. They are a resident fixture at our summer concert and have following in Ludlow now! We raised over £800 towards our charity for this year, The Mahaque Well Fund in Mozambique and we are all thrilled that work has started on sinking the borehole to provide the village with fresh water. Many thanks to The Methodist Church, Gill and the Men from Off, and of course, to Larks who really worked hard on the songs this year.

TLC and Larks had their first joint sing when a few members from each choir pitched up to sing at the Lower Corve St Street party. Unfortunately, by the time we were due to sing, a bitter wind had driven the revellers home or into the Unicorn pub so we followed them into the pub for a sort of impromptu flash mob! A good time was had by all!

At the end of June, the weather picked up, at last, and Lark, Rachel, a volunteer warden of Flounders Folly on Wenlock Edge, invited Larks to picnic up there on one of their open days. A few of us made it on a wonderful clear bright day and were rewarded with panoramic views of South Shropshire. It was my new corgi puppy’s first proper walk and she loved it!

Our end of term party was held in Ailsa’s magical little garden in Leintwardine. There was so much food, we forgot to sing! Or maybe we were all sung out!

Once again, a gathering of Larks will be staying at the Woodlands, Glasbury, near Hay on Wye for our October weekend away. Last year we sang in some beautiful churches and tried in vain to discover an echo in the echo field next to Colva Church! We also walked round Ireland !! (In the Radnor Hills). It was a great weekend.

The second annual Singing picnic at Winstanstow took place in July, organised by Mary Keith who runs choirs in North Shropshire. It was a blistering hot day, the shared food almost broke the trestle tables and we sang some lovely songs, both in the village hall and outside in the field. Lots of different community choir members were there including some members of TLC and Larks.

The last weekend of July was the 14th annual Singing Camp at Oak Barn. Despite hobbling around with a damaged knee, it was one of the most enjoyable singing camps I’ve ever had at Oak Barn, with singing workshops led by Carol Prior, Sue Harris, Mark Thomas, Ros Thomas and me, all members of the Natural Voice network. Rain prevented us from having our usual Saturday night bonfire so we crammed into Oak Barn for a good sing. Wherever you get a group of singers together there is an instant party!

Ludlow New Voices, co taught by myself and Ros Crouch, is becoming a really good little choir. They performed a concert at the end of June in the Methodist Church, with some excellent instrumental solos too. They are a small choir but are developing, vocally, all the time. They meet at the Ludlow Maskell Centre on Tuesday evenings 5.15 till 6.45. Do tell anyone between 8 and 16 that you know!


01584 823609 or email info@oak-barn.co.uk

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