March 29th 2014 Community Choirs Festival
Our group waited in the early morning mist at Wilton Road car park and were careful not to board the wrong coach lest we found ourselves on a day out with the Scouts who were also milling around. We managed not to eat all our sandwiches on the way there!
By the time we arrived in Stratford the mist had cleared and we enjoyed free refreshments in bright sunshine.
The workshops, led by Hilary, Ros, Roger and Bruce were both challenging and enjoyable.
We started in Africa with Hlonolofatsa then moved to Scotland for Wild Mountain Thyme. A Tongan song, Malimalimai, tested our stamina after lunch and the session finished with that blues classic, Hold On.
Once a song had been mastered, tops and altos turned to the middle to perform it and this really enhanced the buzz of singing in such a large group as we were all able to hear each part and relate to it.
The lunch break saw us busking outside in the sunshine, singing "Iqude" and "Shosholoza" to a sizeable crowd of fellow singers who were generous with their applause.
The latter part of the afternoon was given over to a concert of songs from each choir present. Choir numbers ranged from 8 singers to 60 odd and musical numbers from Abba to Zulu. Quite a few of the choirs were attending for the first time but the level of performance and enthusiasm was high.
We were delighted to be joining forces with Woven Chords to sing "Nkosi Sikelel ‘i Africa" which was originally to be our sole offering, but as all the other groups had sung at least two songs, Liz was "persuaded" to lead us in " Rolihlala Mandela" as well. Both were enthusiastically received and we glowed in the accolade of "best dressed choir" awarded by the lovely Bruce.
A young relative of your correspondent who attended as a supporter and photographer, summed the day up as "exhausting but fantastic" and it was a sleepy group who travelled home with no energy for singing on the bus!
Many thanks are due to Liz for organising the booking and leading us so brilliantly in the singing and to Hazel and Duncan who co-ordinated the transport.
Sarah Bowie – soprano.