Bob's latest blog
Well, good day to you all and it was lovely to see all your faces again this week, I’m so glad that 27, I think that was the number, of our wonderful choir logged in and took part in Tuesday's rehearsal. It was special treat to have AmyBeth join us for the rehearsal, great to see you again and I would say it was lovely to hear your voice again, but owing to the way ZOOM works we all need to be muted so we don’t get hear each other singing. Merel, who I must say has been a star, getting us together rehearsing and singing, started of by warming us up using stretching exercises ,then some vocal exercises to get our voices working well before singing 'together'. During the rehearsal we spent some time discussing the Real Angels song that we are going to cover; Michael has sent out an email relating to this so please do take a look at this and start to familiarise yourself with the words. Unfortunately I had to drop out at 18:00 as I had to log into another rehearsal so I missed the end of what was a wonderful 30mins with you all. Take care and stay safe and see you all next Tuesday at the same time.
ZOOM ZOOM ZOOM
Tuesday's session begin with an open mike session - 15 is about the maximum that can reliably work with - and we all chatted together for a short while. John H had added a 'virtual background' to his Zoom presence - very clever and I've been trying to fix one up myself, so far without success. Sarah has managed to get her microphone sorted; Robert's smiling face was back on line; and chairman Bob has worked out how to participate via his phone. It's a pity that some of our members haven't worked out how to use the Zoom system yet but free tutorials are available from me. Or I could find a proper expert! Note that flowers, trees and cuddly toys were displayed - at least at the beginning. I think we got up to 17 of us by the end of the session.
We did some warm-ups and tongue-twisters including one from Mijn Muziek (is my Dutch improving or not?) and then did some serious work on a a lovely round arrangement of Palestrina's Dona Nobis Pacem. This means 'give us peace' and is a phrase used by plenty of renaissance and modern classical composers. I particularly love the Vaughan Williams version which I rehearsed for a term once but never got to perform. Barts Choir did it at the Festival Hall a couple of years ago - stunning. We'll probably do some more work on this Palestrina so that when we get together again we'll be able to sing it in three parts at once. And we did some work on Why we sing again - there are some technical issues with this which need working on but, yes, we're on the case.
So Happy Easter from me - I'll be in and out of the flat and garden - listening to Radio 3 who are promising lots of Bach - both the St John and the St Matthew Passion, though Gramophone magazine are promising a recorded transmission of the 'John' from the Thomaskirche in Leipzig, where Bach was the MD. But I prefer the Easter Oratorio - my absolute favourite (and much shorter).'
This is not an April Fool
What have we been doing as a choir since Christmas? We had a successful recruitment workshop at Palestra on Saturday 15 February, then a few rehearsals to get us ready to sing at the International Womens' Day event at Stratford on Thursday 5 March. We sang two sets and provided a jolly, happy background to the festivities. Our repertoire was: I Have a Dream; Proud Mary; Stand by Me; Fight Song; This is Me then I'll Be There; Don't Stop Believing; I Have a Dream; Stand by Me; Fight Song. I'm told that we sounded - and looked - pretty good.
After that, the world seemed to change and with working at home for non-operational staff and voluntary (or compulsory) quarantine for many it has taken a while for us to work out the best way of keeping in touch with each other, maintaining physical and mental health and wellbeing and - yes - continuing to sing. So Merel proposed that we try Zoom for a get-together and sing together session and we have now done two of these. She has also produced three short videos for us to use to work on breathing and warming up, plus a tongue-twister. Details of these are all on our new ACTIVITIES website page.
Yesterday there were about 15 of us involved, with warm-ups, tongue twisters etc, we worked on a Dutch Grove Musiek video and then sang through ‘Why we sing’ which Merel wants to teach us for a future concert. A good time was had by all - thanks, Merel. We plan another session on Tuesday 7 April - watch this space!