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!
What a great afternoon, wild and windy, but that was outside. A great turnout of singers old and new as almost 30 people attended our workshop on Saturday 15 February at Palestra, including 14 lovely people who had seen the publicity or been talked into it by friends and colleagues. It was great to see so many people come out on a pretty nasty day!
Some of our guests had been boy sopranos and not sung since their voices had broken, a couple see themselves as dancers rather than singers and others sing in the bath or had sung in Robert’s Christmas group. What was astonishing was how well everyone sung together even after 45 minutes, staying in pitch after singing Abba’s ‘I have a dream’ a capella - not once but twice!
Robert, one of the tenors in the choir, started the workshop off with some warm-ups and he got us all to do our best Julie Andrews impressions singing ‘Do re mi’ then got stuck into the Abba.
Merel taught us Schulz Dua which is not (as Gabi thought) in Dutch but a great piece to get us finger snapping, knee slapping or clapping whilst we sang. We got it going as a four part round and you could see everyone enjoying singing together in their groups. Merel also got the choir up and walking around, showed us how to breathe properly and sing on the move.
We finished off with ‘Doing the Lambeth Walk’ in honour of one of our guests who works in Lambeth Walk and who inspired us to do our own version of the Walk whilst we sang. Some lovely walks and lots of fun and laughter. And good singing.
All too soon it was time to say goodbye (apart from those who came to the pub). It was lovely to see our choir friends after almost a two month break and it was great to meet so many new people - we hope they felt welcome and will come again - if not for this term, but maybe when the time is right for them.
There is much scientific evidence that ‘Singing is good for you’ but it didn’t need a scientist to see the fun people were having and how much they enjoyed the afternoon!
Gabi and Bob
This note is to confirm our times and venues for February. Weekday rehearsals at Palestra are a little complicated because of a block booking for the ground floor conference rooms every Tuesday. Please enquire at reception to see which room we are in on the day. We are working on the final details of the International Womens' Day event at Stratford on Thursday 7 March, but our rehearsals before then will be focused on music for that evening which will include Fight Song; This is me; I have a dream; Proud Mary; Don't stop believing; and Stand by me.
WORKSHOP Saturday 15 February 14:45 for 15:00-17:00 Palestra, Conference room 2, ground floor
REHEARSAL Tuesday 18 February 17:45 for 18:00-20:00 Palestra – ENQUIRE AT RECEPTION
REHEARSAL Tuesday 25 February 17:45 for 18:00-20:00 Endeavour Square, Stratford, 10th floor, Small Auditorium 1 5ES
REHEARSAL Saturday 29 February 14:45 for 15:00-17:00Palestra, Conference room 1, ground floor
We've been asked to sing at the above event and planning is at an advanced stage. Because of the short notice and small number of rehearsals between now and then we're hoping to recycle some old favourites and maybe learn one new item on the theme of 'women supporting women, with songs that encompass this and leaving everyone feeling empowered!' Merel has suggested: Fight Song; This is me; I have a dream; Proud Mary; Don't stop believing; and Stand by me.
Can you put the date in your diary and look at your copies of these songs ready to come to our workshop and rehearsals and the event? There will be a poll on availability shortly.
I am hoping you will all have copies of the music Michael has listed as we have sung these recently. As the music cupboard has been recently moved and as yet not sorted out in its new home I can if asked send you electronic copies for you to print out. To save global emails if you need any please email me and I will send them to you
Michael has said the rehearsal time is tight as we sing on the Thursday 5 March so please do get your copies out and start learning. I have asked Michael to put the MP3s back on the web page as and when he can.
Look forward to singing with you all again.
MUSIC WE HAVE SUNG
Now have got Brexit and the palindrome day of 20.02.20 out of the way, I have been updating my list of things we have sung as a choir in the three years 2017/18/19. It's certainly a wide variety of different musical genres. from Henry VIII to modern rock music, via all sorts of branch lines. The list used to have its own page on the website but we needed the space, so here it is as an attachment. Let me know if you think I've missed anything important - my records are pretty accurate but not perfect!
NEW FOR 2020
A Happy New Year to all our members and supporters. There was a committee meeting yesterday (minutes will appear on the website soon) and we have confirmed the appointment of Merel van der Knoop as Music Director to follow AmyBeth Beel who did such a good job for us in that position from 2014-2019. Good luck and thanks to AmyBeth and welcome to Merel who we have been working with over recent years.
More news of future events, workshops and rehearsals will follow shortly.
I have heard good reports from this lunchtime’s event at the TfL faith group event and I’m sorry I had to miss it but my voice is not yet up to singing yet.
Tomorrow, Tuesday 17th December, Merel is holding a rehearsal at 55 Broadway ahead of the RailStaff carol service on Thursday. Please arrive at 17:45 so she can start promptly at 18:00.
Wednesday. We are busking at Westminster Station 17:30 – 18:45 - please see Sam’s earlier email.
Thursday. Please be at St Mary’s Church Eversholt Street near Euston Station by 10:30. The service starts at 12:30 and there is a chance to get refreshments afterwards if you are able to stay. Uniform is the usual all black with red scarf or tie and your music in your folders.
Have a good week and I look forward to seeing you all on Wednesday and Thursday
Well done to everyone who sang at the Christmas Celebration this lunchtime, hosted by the TfL Christian Network. I thought there was a good balance of SATB and my personal fave was Silent Night. 🎶🎵🎶 We certainly had an appreciative audience who gave us a round of applause after each carol!! 👏🏼👏🏼👏🏼Xx
A special thanks to Fiona for arranging the Christmas Celebration Event. Thanks to Alex for conducting and Annette Kay for accompanying us and providing lovely background carols on the keyboard during lunch.👏👏👏👏
Well done all and my apologies for turning up late: you did sound good in the last carol and looked very professional whilst listening to the address and in the last carol. Thank you, Fiona for organising this event.
Another of our sopranos was missing - but she had a good excuse too - back to work for Maddy!
Ladies and Gentlemen,
May I say many thanks to each and every one of you for the wonderful music you produced this evening. I thought our sound as a choir was excellent as did the members of the congregation I spoke to after the service. Mike Brown was very complimentary as was the Reverend Catherine Duce, who said the repertoire was outstanding for a volunteer workplace choir, to which I have to agree: you really did do yourselves proud. One special thanks needs to go to Sam for really lifting the Shepherds' Farewell to another level; the steel pan will have to become a regular member of the choir.
Our success in no small part down to our wonderful choir directors. AmyBeth who over the last 5 years as MD has brought the choir along in leaps and bounds taking us from an average choir to a choir to be reckoned with, one which can sing in some of the most prestigious places in London. AmyBeth has taken our voices and trained us in the way so that now we can take a piece be it, The Shepherds' Farewell or Proud Mary, Waterloo Sunset or the introit of Faure's Requiem, and deliver it confidently, with feeling and musical understanding. It has been an amazing piece of teaching to get us that far: unfortunately she hasn’t yet been able to get us to watch her as often as she would want but you can't work miracles and we are working on this. AmyBeth - we will miss you as our MD but you did graciously introduce us to our next MD in Merel who I am sure will continue to build on all your hard work and achievements. Please do come back and sing with us as and when you're free to do so - we wold love to have you back with us.
So here’s to a great Christmas season with a few more events all as important and worthy as tonight’s. Where you are able please do come along and help us, especially at Westminster for busking and at Palestra for the faith group service on Monday week.
Once again many thanks and you really did do yourselves proud.
Just a short note ahead of the biggest and most important event of the year - the TfL Festival of Carols
Please arrive from 1530 so we can begin warming up at 1545 and start rehearsing at 1600 sharp. We will rehearse for an amount of time to be confirmed by the musical director on the day. Please do not leave your possessions in the main seats but in the pews to the side or any other areas as shown by committee members.
Please wear all black from head to toe. Please bring and wear your red scarf or red tie and please ensure you have ironed them. Please ensure you have all of your music and it is held in your choir folder. Anyone who does not conform to these instructions will not be allowed to sing (as per the instruction at last Saturday’s rehearsal) The uniform requirements remain the same for all events unless otherwise specified.
Once we have finished our rehearsal we will relocate to a room downstairs were we can leave you belongings. This room will be locked when empty. There is some time to have a snack before you need to return to the room fully ready to depart at 1850. Once we leave the room and enter the church stairs please remain silent as the noise echoes up the stairs into the church.
Pre paid Souvenir Programmes / Guest arrival
If you have pre purchased the souvenir programmes from Zena the please ensure your guests have them to gain entry otherwise they will be asked to buy another (with no refund!) If you were not at Saturday’s rehearsal then you can pick up any remaining programmes from Zena before or just after tomorrow’s rehearsal. Please ask your guests to arrive by 1855 as the doors will close at 1900. Please note the later they arrive the less choice of seats they will have. Also please ask them not to sit at the end of the pews by the middle aisle as this is where the invited speakers sit and they may be asked to move.
We will then perform until around 2005/ 2010. You must remain seated until directed to leave. This will be around 5 minutes after the clergy have departed. You are then free to mingle with your families etc but please remember to return to the room downstairs to collect your belongings.
After the concert
As stated above please remember to return to the room to collect your belongings. Then you are free to leave.
Here are the details which the organisers have sent to Fiona
11.30 – 12.00 – set up, buffet arrives, decorate, singers arrive and practice
12 to 12.15 – people arrive, buffet and (optional) singers sing in the background
12.15 – Welcome and official start
Carol - Once in royal David’s city
Bible reading – Isaiah 9:6-7, the prophet foretells the coming of Jesus
Carol – O Come All Ye Faithful
Bible reading – Luke 1:26-35, the birth of Jesus foretold
Performance piece by singers – Silent Night
Bible reading – Luke 2: 1-16, the birth of Jesus
12.45 to 1pm - talk by Kev Murdoch
Carol - Hark the herald angels sing
1pm official end