Summer time news

Three performances in a weekend! This is definitely a record for us.  We performed two sets at Heeley Festival on Saturday 23rd, in Heeley Parish Church.  It was the first time the festival had put on “acoustic” (the inverted commas refer to the other artists) music in a designated area – a good idea, offering something different from the main stage, under cover and next to the cafe.

Once we had moved from behind the biggest pillar in the church, the acoustics were great and we attracted a good audience.  “All My Trials” got a particularly warm response from those I spoke to, and “Rolling in the Deep” wowed them again.  “Brown Eyes Blue” – the most complicated arrangement we’ve ever done, was really strong.

On Sunday we performed at the annual Meersbrook Park Walled Garden Party.  This is our fourth year (?) performing there – and the best weather I can remember. We opened our set, based on previous experience, with “Singing in the Rain”. The dooby doos made the sun go behind the clouds and as we got to “Come on with the rain” it seemed inevitable – but never quite arrived.  We had to follow the wonderful “Son Para Todos” which made us nervous, but the set went really well.

Two things I’m thinking:

1. What makes Carfield Community Choir?  The three sets of the same songs were sung by different sets of people.  I am reminded of Trigger from Only Fools and Horses, who had had the same broom for 20 years, but it had had 17 new heads and 14 new handles…

Some people with strong voices (people others rely on) were missing from each set. A year ago this would have led to a wobbly sound, particularly at the start.  But this weekend that didn’t happen. The choir has a growing sense of identity and competence.  We could only perform well with different line-ups because each individual feels that they know what they are doing and they are an important part of the choir, but also that they are supported by the others. To all our singers I say – your bit matters, you are important, and what you bring contributes to the quality of the choir.  Carfield Community Choir will be a slightly different choir if you can’t be there, but we will go on.  So on the second performance when somebody realised everyone who had sung a particular part had gone home, except her, she roped in her own reinforcement.

2. We groaned a bit when we realised the Festival and the Garden Party were on the same weekend this year – they are both fixtures in our calendar and usually they are a week or a fortnight apart.  But the confidence and polish of the performances grew from doing the same set several times in quick succession and I would definitely agree to a similar timetable again.  However much we try in rehearsal, you cannot replicate the feeling of being on stage, on show, and three performances in 26 hours gave us a good level of “match-fitness”.  Nobody has to perform with our choir – but those who perform reluctantly to start with do find that they enjoy it and sing better as a result.

Huge kudos to the other musicians at the walled garden – I really had to tear myself away to look round the plants since they were so good. Son Para Todos, fantastic Cuban salsa band – I love a good Latin trumpet – did two sets. So did Out to Lunch, who play great chilled jazz standards with mellow saxophones and sometimes Myrtle’s ace vocals.* The whole experience was enhanced by spontaneous stylish dancing from various audience members.

* Tell me if I’ve got it right- do the two versions of the band have different names?