We have had a very successful and enjoyable Christmas season with three events all well patronised and, as people said, some lovely singing. That has been in no small part to Merel who has been leading us this term while AmyBeth has been taking time off to have her baby. At today's Railstaff event we heard readings from, among others, the Chair of the House of Commons Transport Committee, Lilian Green MP, the Chief Executive of RSSB, Mark Phillips, and our very own soprano and train driver extraordinaire, Maddy Corper. Millie Stokes sang the first verse of Once in Royal David's City (what a lovely voice!) and Sarah Best played the organ for us. How can I sum up a very successful year? One picture tells a thousand words, and the shot below, taken by Catherine, is all that I can say - but what a beautiful flower arrangement by Gabi!
Prior to the service at St Martins-in-the-Fields I had the privilege of going up the bell tower to see the bell ringers at work. Paul Southward, who’s been a bell ringer for 15 years, organises the ringing of the bells every year by TfL staff and members of the Guild of Railway Ringers. As we walked up the steps to the bell tower I could feel the stone walls vibrating and felt a real sense of excitement at seeing the band in action.
There were 14 bell ringers this year, so enough to ring the 12 bells, sometimes erroneously called a “peal of bells” which actually refers to a ringing performance of more than 5,000 changes, which we didn’t have time for before the service!
The band included a very interesting ringer who had actually cast them, the last bells he cast at Whitechapel bell foundry before moving to work for London Underground. The ringers rang a number of methods including Grandsire, Plain Bob and Steadman. Such history in those names! It was clearly hard work (very good exercise) and as you can see it takes intense concentration so no happy smiles for the camera!
So many thanks everyone for welcoming me to join you and making for such a special start to the Carol Service.
Many parts of the transport industry came together at Wednesday evening's Festival of Carols; there was a brilliant attendance at the service where the collection raised £1,429.95. This is being shared equally between The Railway Children, London’s Transport Choir and The Public Transport Benevolent Fund.
We have a very successful rehearsal last night with Isla Thomson, our St Martin’s soloist, joining us for the first half. We also learned that Merel has arranged for another soloist, Millie Stokes, to sing with us at St Mary's - and the poster for that event is now available - see below,
The article below has come out on the TfL internal intranet so we thought it would be nice to share it with you all.
Our final rehearsal is on Saturday at 55 Broadway (for details see Monday’s email and post below) so we hope to see as many of you there as possible.
Our final 2 rehearsals this year will be:
Tuesday 4 December 1745 for 1800-2000 Holden Room, 5th floor, Broadway
Saturday 8 December 1445 for 1500-1700 10th floor, 55 Broadway
I would like to stress that we will start exactly on time and notices, amendments, questions etc should be asked beforehand to save time - we only have 4 hours of rehearsal left and we need to make the most of it.
Singers must try to must attend Tuesday and next Saturday’s rehearsal. Everyone should attend at least one of these rehearsals but preferably both.
There will be no rehearsal on Tuesday 11 December.
Please bring all your music in your black folder in concert order!
The turnout at Saturday’s rehearsal was fewer than we had hoped, but what we lacked in quantity we certainly made up for with enthusiasm; and by the end of the rehearsal we had made solid progress on learning a couple of the more challenging carols.
We started gently with the Sussex Carol – mainly to sort out which voice parts were singing which lines within the verses, but also where we will be singing in unison and where in harmony. So if you missed the rehearsal, make sure you check with someone who was there!
We then tackled The Crown of Roses, and Merel took each voice part through the entire piece individually before building back up into the full four-part harmony. During this part of the rehearsal I was the only tenor present, so Merel “staged” verse 3 as a prominent soloist with sotto voce backing group. We therefore need to sort out how we will do this in St Martin in the Fields, as we usually have a strong line up of tenors and we can’t all be soloists!
After the break (by which time Bob Aley had doubled the size of the tenor line) we moved on to Tomorrow Shall Be My Dancing Day. Merel concentrated on getting us used to the rhythm of each part by speaking the words in time and encouraging us to move round so that we could hear how the voice parts interacted. We only began to sing after we were comfortable with the words and the rhythm. This worked really well, and means we should be able to use our limited future rehearsal time for polishing rather than note bashing.
So, once again, if you weren’t there on Saturday, make sure you have practised The Crown of Roses and Tomorrow Shall Be My Dancing Day, otherwise you won’t be able to keep up with those who were!
Thanks to all for the successful AGM last Tuesday.
Minutes will be circulated for approval but as advance info, the committee for 2019 is:
London’s Transport Choir Committee 2019
Chair John Barry
Vice-Chair David Brice
Secretary Susan Gilbert
Membership & Deputy Secretary Catherine Mayes
Treasurer Michael Woods
Librarian Bob Aley
Rehearsal Venue Bookings Jenny Vincent
Additional Member John Sheehy
Additional Member Zena Master
Income and Sponsorship VACANCY
My thanks for all the hard work by members standing down from the committee : Gabi Coyle, Anna Hirst and Bob Hedges.