To finish the year in review and also on a bright note, I thought I’d provide a fun summary of the six Christmas gigs I was involved in during December 2018.
To the tune of Here We Come A-Wassailing
Here we come a carolling within Trowbridge Town Hall Where volunteers give hearty cheers For they’re having a ball We sing up, we sing loud To be heard over the crowd Who are all celebrating a jolly good year! Who have had a jolly good year!
To the tune of Jingle Bells
Tower House, Tower House Venue number two The guests did sit about the room to hear what song’s we’d do Tower House, Tower House A good sound we did make Then finished off the afternoon, with a piece of cake
To the tune of We Wish You a Merry Christmas
A Masonic Christmas Dinner Is not a way to get thinner But was Bath’s premier theatre Before they moved on.
We sang and ate pies And Janet won the raffle prize Our Masonic Christmas Dinner Gave all of us good cheer!
To the tune of Once in Royal
Once in St John’s Church, Devizes Stood a choir named White Horse Where the conductor name Roland Led us on a festive course
We tried hard to get the notes right And were watching with all our might If Roland expressed with glee, We knew we had done greatly When the congregation sang We could relax, to a man
To the tune of the 12 Days of Christmas
On the Carol Singing Pub Crawl, we started with only… 5 Carol Singers! The Bear and the Black Swan Let us sing, then Jess and friend joined in And we finished at the British Lion
To the tune of Hark the Herald
Christmas Eve, the Royal Crescent We stood halfway up the stairs And the guests looked very pleasant Mingling before meal’s declared Song varied from good to great And we spotted Terry Waite Until dinner bell did ring From carol book we did sing Then we left without delay Driving home for Christmas Day
In November of this year, I performed in two very
different gigs with The Invitation Theatre Company, also known as TITCo. The first was as secret performers at a wedding
ceremony. Anita organised it for her
husband-to-be as a surprise as they were both big rock fans. She had already recruited the outstanding
Darren Hunt to play electric guitar and control the backing tracks. Our job was to sing two rock anthems from the
vault of classic rock:
Alice in Chains – I Stay Away Ozzy Osbourne – Fire in the Sky
The rehearsal process was actually very enjoyable. We would sing through the sheet music and add harmonies if Anita or ourselves felt it needed something extra. This license to interpret the music was part of what made it fun. The other element was the occasion itself. We had to sneak into the manor house through a side door so as not to bring any attention to ourselves and spoil the surprise.
The performance itself went very well. As Anita and her partner proceeded up the aisle, Darren who was perched above the congregation on the balcony started playing the Alice in Chains track. We were tucked out of sight on the opposite side from Darren and as we started singing, we slowly crept into view. Looking down at the audience, it was a delight to see how genuinely surprised they were! As for the performance, I think we were a marmite option. The older members especially did not seem enthused to be listening to this choral rock anthem, but there were wide grins from some of the younger members.
We sang Ozzy Osbourne’s Fire in the Sky during the signing of the wedding register. Some lovely moments for us as singers and it was fun to watch Darren rock out during the lengthy and technically fiendish guitar solo.
The other concert I was involved in was Karl Jenkin’s Armed Man, 100 years after the World War I armistice finally ended four years of fighting. This concert was the vision of conductor Anthony Brown and his partner Jemma Brown who brought together 80 singers from three local choirs as well as 40 musicians. It also included spectacular lighting and projected onto the archway of St Mary’s Church were the names of all the men from Devizes who had lost their lives during the war. In the second half of the concert a selection of first world war themed songs were performed, which also lightened the mood a little.
In terms of the size of the event and the amount preparation time for us as performers, the two gigs couldn’t have been any more different. So what links these two very different performances, apart from TITCo?
It was the reactions from the audience. The first performance helped heighten the
experience for both Anita’s partner and their wedding guests. Likewise, performing the Armed Man was a very
emotive experience with Karl Jenkin’s mass for peace combing with the poignant
visual effects. When we had a chance to
look out at the audience during the performances, I could see emotionally
engaged people, either involved in the music or lost in their thoughts. Afterwards members of the group received lots
of incredible feedback about how moved they had been by the event. It’s for this reason that these performances
mean so much to me as a performer and make all the effort worthwhile.