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Sunday night at The Hawth

This time a week ago, the helpers were starting to arrive at The Hawth, ready for their briefing before 300 singers arrived. Can you believe a week has passed already?

To help re-live the second of those wonderful nights, here are not one but two guest bloggers! Both have totally different takes on the Sunday rehearsal and performance, so make sure you read them both!

First up...Bex Ledger, Horsham

"After many, many choir rehearsals over the last few months, a long afternoon rehearsing and getting the final touches ready for the evening, the concert was getting closer and closer. On stage, excitement was mounting as we heard everyone arriving in the auditorium on the other side of the curtains. As 7pm arrived, Mark introduced inChoir from Burgess Hill, Crawley, Haywards Heath Day and Evening, Horsham and Redhill, and we all stood ready for the first song. The curtains went up and a rapturous applause followed – what an amazing feeling!

The first half went so well; the audience were enjoying themselves and the choir certainly were too. For many of us it was our first time performing on stage or our first time in a big theatre like The Hawth, but any nervousness that was there before had disappeared. The audience were so appreciative of our singing and the choir leaders' enthusiasm carried us through.

After the interval, we were ready to create our rainstorm before ‘Africa’. The pitter-patter of rain, the heavy downpour and then the thunder and the lightning created such an atmospheric buzz in the theatre. What a great way to start off the second half! It flew by and before we knew it we were singing our last song ready to finish off the evening.

Having the choir leaders each perform their own songs was so lovely. It gave them their time to shine. Jude and Jon’s rendition of ‘You make me feel so young’, Mark singing ‘Something’ on his ukulele with the choir behind him, Lynne from inChoon and inSync singing ‘Flashlight’ and, of course, Karen performing ‘Nessun Dorma’ which certainly made a lot of people feel emotional. Being able to back her on that song gave me goosebumps.

The night was full of laughs thanks to Mark, Karen and Jude’s comedic and witty jokes between the songs and of course Mark’s lovely Dad bringing him his ukulele! The audience enjoyed every moment and every single member of the choir came away filled with adrenaline and could have done it all over again (if it was a bit cooler on the stage!).

It would not have been possible without the tireless work of Mark, Karen, Jude and the rest of the inChoir team, so endless thanks go to them. Now for a nice summer break before September comes around and we can sing our hearts out again!"

And now for Vivien Parsons, Oxted...

"It seemed such a good idea at the time. “You’re back from holiday Sunday morning?” said Mrs Heppell. “Wonderful, you can sing at the Sunday concert!”

I diligently downloaded the songs onto my phone so that I could practise through the car’s Bluetooth system as we travelled around British Columbia. My husband didn’t say a word whenever he heard Karen’s dulcet tones coming through, accompanied by my less-dulcet tones, and even said he didn’t mind. I’m not 100% sure of the veracity of this statement, but we will take it at face value! He did say that he looked forward to hearing what went in all the gaps and some proper words for ‘The Longest Time’ as opposed to “dum dum oo-er oo-er” (he only heard the soprano parts for everything!).

The e-mails came through with Karen’s last minute instructions for preparation - excellent, no mention of not doing a transatlantic flight immediately before performing, so it can’t be a problem!

Sunday 09.05 am - touchdown at Gatwick from Vancouver. Suddenly, it all didn’t seem quite such a good idea. Despite my best intentions, sleep proved elusive that morning and I set off for the Hawth clutching my music wondering if this would really work.

Of course it worked! Adrenalin clicked in and the rehearsals brought it all back. Those high notes that had sounded so squeaky when sitting in the car in Canada soared out of my mouth into the rafters. Well, they did in my mind anyway and I didn’t pick up any pained looks from those near me, so it can’t have been too bad! And to keep me focussed, those working in the Hawth Studio very thoughtfully overdid the stage smoke and set off the fire alarms during ‘Nessan Dorma’, thereby giving us all a short break in the carpark in the rain.

After the short picnic break (“no eating in the foyer” said Mark, so we ate under the pillars outside the foyer), the performance started and what a joy it was. All thoughts of jetlag flew out of the window with the energy flowing around the stage and audience. Even Mark’s jokes seemed genuinely funny which, considering we had all heard them many times before, can only have been down to the magic flying around us. Jon and Jude made us all Feel So Young, and Karen reduced us to tears (again!) with ‘Nessan Dorma’ – no fire alarm this time! Even ‘Somebody to Love’ – which I had missed learning due to my holiday – wasn’t the complete disaster that I had feared with only a couple of bits mimed.

All too soon it was over. Only one regret – that I wasn’t there on Saturday with the rest of the Oxted branch, but thank you to the Burgess Hill, Crawley, Haywards Heath Day and Evening, Horsham and Redhill choir members for welcoming an interloper.

Was it worth being awake for 36 hours to be there? Of course it was! Mrs Heppell was completely right – but please don’t tell her, or she’ll come up with other good ideas for me!"

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(Sunday night: Burgess Hill, Crawley, Haywards Heath Day and Evening, Horsham and Redhill)

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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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