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inChoir inConcert: A view from the altos

How are we all feeling after the concerts? Tired? Missing our weekly sessions? ...Ready to cycle to France!? (A huge well done to Mark...only one more day to go!)

Since so many of us took to the stage at the weekend, we thought it would be nice to hear from different members - one from each night - to tell us all about their experience.

I am therefore delighted to share the first of our special guest blog posts, written by Tamara O'Brien from the East Grinstead branch.

"inChoir concert at The Hawth, Crawley, Saturday 22 July

How was it for you? A view from the altos

I got this feeling
However many times you perform in a choir, opening your gob in front of people and hoping the right sound comes out at the right time doesn’t get any less nerve-wracking.
And that’s good, because the last thing you want is to be over-confident and jump in too soon. That happened to me last Christmas. It taught me that however well you think you know the song, ALWAYS LOOK AT MARK.

Nessun dorma
‘Twas the night before the concert, and... I’m sure I wasn’t the only one obsessing over the event in increasingly obscure detail. For example:

  • Will I miss our cue in Nessun Dorma entirely - again
  • Or ruin the poignant canon bit in Somewhere
  • Is there anything I eat that isn’t dairy, chocolate or alcohol
  • Water:loo ratio – what’s optimal?
  • Traffic… weather… temperature…
  • Short black socks – long enough?
  • Tissues… cough sweets… dental floss… zzzz

And I’m just a choir member. Imagine what it’s like to be a choir leader – with all the above, plus conducting, motivating, changeovers, helpers, musicians, technology, timing and ad libs to juggle as well.

There’s a place for us
Corralling 300 excited singers was never going to be easy, but the helpers expertly rounded us up, checked us in, steered us to the dressing rooms – then slotted us onto the stage in a neat piece of choral jenga.
It brought back happy memories of my mum. Every year, she baffled us by weeping with laughter at the hundreds of scouts cramming onto the stage in The Gang Show. Many decades later, I get it. I don’t know why it’s hysterically funny, it just is. Now it’s my own daughter who’s baffled.

Oh what a night
Waiting behind the stage curtain (tabs, darling!), in dimmed lights and complete silence, was the most nerve-racking part of the evening for me. But when curtain lifted and the jaunty opening chords of Itchycoo Park rang out, the nerves vanished. It was just about putting on the best performance of the songs that you possibly could.
Another thing I learnt, apart from LOOK AT MARK, is that sustained smiling is way more difficult than you think. And smiling while singing is even harder. I was sitting next to Hannah – one of the fab Three Penny Piece singers – who made it look natural, and delightful. My rictus smile, not so much. And it was hard to keep even that up. Thankfully Mark, Karen and Jude never stopped reminding us to look up, smile, emote, project.
It was certainly a packed programme, with lots of incidental comedy from the above-named – totally upstaged by Heppell Snr of course. It all made for a warm-hearted night full of fun, entertainment and soul. Sure, it was a partisan audience of friends and family, but you could tell that at times we really touched people.

For me those moments were:

I’ll Stand by You – those soaring gospel choruses just sweep you along, whether you’re singing or listening
He Ain’t Heavy – we might be a bit bashful about our ‘sincere’ moment, but our rendition of this song does what it says on the tin
Karen’s Nessun Dorma – the girl’s got chops. And lungs. (But she certainly doesn’t butcher the song, haha)
Africa – loved our ‘tropical storm’, loved the song, loved Charlotte's melodic solo floating over the chorus
Somebody to Love – my absolute favourite. A great tune, lyrics we can all relate to, a call-and-response that’s glorious to sing – what more could you want!

I am wonderful, I am magical
Everyone will have their own standout moments, and that’s what was great about the evening, and InChoir in general. Something for everyone. Somehow, our choir leaders manage to spin choral gold from a diverse range of people and musical talent. All without shouting at us, mostly. That’s not just magical, that’s bloomin’ miraculous!"

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(Saturday night: Crowborough, Dorking, East Grinstead Day and Evening, Oxted, Tunbridge Wells, Shoreham and Uckfield)

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If any other members are interested in potentially writing a guest blog post for any of the upcoming trips (Edinburgh, Liverpool...), then do get in touch!

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