When our talented Musical Director, Alice Dicker, announced she had an amazing idea for our Spring 2023 concert we sat up and took notice. She said it would be fun and amusing and we believed her! She was not wrong. The theme would be based on animals and birds with the core piece being Captain Noah and his Floating Zoo by Michael Flanders and Joseph Horowitz.
Rehearsals began in earnest in January with pieces being introduced gradually each week, some familiar to us, but many new and challenging. We were lulled into a false sense of security with one piece, Agnus Dei by Karl Jenkins, from his ‘The Armed Man: A Mass for Peace’. It is sung in Latin and after a few rehearsals Alice said “I would like you to memorise the words”. Jaws dropped and fear spread, but Alice told us we were perfectly capable and so it proved. She knows a thing or two!
During January our brilliant accompanist, Sheena Smith, informed the choir that she would be undergoing a hip replacement. We envisaged weeks of rehearsals without her able keyboard skills. To the astonishment of us all she missed just two sessions. What a trouper! In March Sheena had a cataract operation and in April, just four weeks later, underwent the same procedure on her other eye. On both occasions there she was straight back to rehearsals, not missing a beat, perched on her piano stool, sporting clear plastic eye patches as if it were the most normal thing in the world. Trouper doesn’t begin to cover it.
As concert day drew nearer some pieces required more intensive practice. Alice had chosen two Madrigals to be sung unaccompanied, Sweet Suffolk Owl (by Thomas Vautor) and The Silver Swan (by Orlando Gibbons) both sung in five parts. Beautiful but somewhat complex especially for those of us who had never sung a Madrigal before. Alice and Sheena both joined us in singing these pieces, an enormous boost to our efforts.
Concert day arrived with excitement and a little trepidation, fingers crossed that we would give a good performance. Even the most relaxed and stoic amongst us losing the plot just briefly when Pauline, our Chairman, panicked and couldn’t find her glasses, Alice calmly pointing out that she was actually wearing them! With Pauline’s words “look up and smile” ringing in our ears, along with Alice’s mantra “there are no wrong notes” – relax, deep breath – off we go.
All was well. An appreciative audience of around 100 came to Long Sutton Village Hall and warmly enjoyed our selection of music, greatly appreciating Pauline’s solo rendering of Habanera from the opera Carmen, a reading by Janet of ‘Nocturnal’ a haunting poem by our Musical Director’s daughter, Eleanor, and robustly joining in the chorus of Crocodile Rock led by a trio of ukulele players, Trevor, Jadi and Amanda, from the choir, (multi talented members always welcome).
After a very sociable interval during which delicious finger food and nibbles were served by choir members, and the odd glass of wine imbibed we were on the homeward stretch, starting with Captain Noah and his Floating Zoo with excellent solo parts from James and Trevor playing Noah and God and Julie singing beautifully as the Narrator. Alice put her mark on the show with her amazing, hilarious solo of ‘The Tale of the Oyster’ from the comic opera ‘Fifty Million Frenchmen’, scored by Cole Porter, followed by a beautifully sensitive poem ‘The Seals of Rhossili’ written and read by choir member Julia.
On to the finale, a spirited rendering of ‘The Hippopotamus Song’ by Flanders and Swann, with an arrangement by Alice. With its familiar chorus of “Mud, Mud, glorious Mud”, we hoped we had covered ourselves not with mud, but with just a smidgeon of glory.
Then we had an inkling that Alice had conceived another amazing idea for our Spring Concert 2024. Watch this space ………