Ageing Voices Ever Singing: Review

On Thursday 31 May 2012 seventy five people met for a delicious and very reasonably priced lunch at the Sun Hotel in Hitchin (participants paid £10 for the 4 hour event, which included a 2 course lunch). The atmosphere was lively and friendly as folks soon got chatting over their meals. We then strolled over to St Mary’s church, where, after some mix up about keys which unfortunately left us standing around for a while, people settled down in the pews ready to sing.

The director for the afternoon was Rufus Frowde of Hampton Court Chapel Royal, ably accompanied at the piano by Nicholas Durcan – all his playing improvised. Rufus started by getting everybody up and singing a Congolese round – taught by rote. As more than one singer commented – “it’s good to tax the little grey cells!”. What started tentatively soon developed into a lively rendering. Next came a gospel/spiritual number, gradually building up simple parts into a rich sounding harmony, simple but beautiful. I recalled fond memories of singing, “All my trials, Lord” in the Girl Guides as well as the great recording by Elvis! Rufus, with his gorgeous tenor voice, sang the verses and the choir interspersed the choruses in harmony. The overall effect was quite beautiful.

In a complete change of style, the choir were given copies of the Sanctus from the Byrd three-part mass. Again, a tentative start, but progress was quickly made and confidence grew and a creditable performance was achieved in a relatively short time. I was sitting at the back and was so impressed with the sound produced and the learning taking place, as well as the fun and friendly atmosphere. Some of the singers were experienced choristers of many decades standing, others hadn’t sung for many years, if at all.

Feedback from the participants was overwhelmingly positive for this event, which was something of a departure from our usual style. Some commented that they would have liked more traditional music.

Here are some of the comments – “Fantastic, excellent, thank you for a fabulous day!” “Great to meet the RSCM team and other singers; organisation was efficient, cost very reasonable.” “Keep up the good work!” “A lovely event, very sociable, challenging but good fun singing.” “It was very good, relaxed, with new music and different styles.” ” A great idea to combine lunch and singing, it was very interesting and good for memory!” “A splendid idea, very therapeutic working in a relaxed way.” “Very lovely, Rufus was wonderful!” “Very good value, a good variety of types of pieces, a good balance, fun and enjoyable.” “This event has given me much more confidence.” “Excellent idea, interesting and stimulating, excellent leading team, thank you very much for a lovely and useful afternoon.” “Great fun and very worthwhile.” “Thank you for organising this and finding Rufus!” “Interesting and helpful, broadens one’s outlook. Had a superb time!” “Excellent director.” “A very good idea, fun too, I thoroughly enjoyed it, and meeting lots of people.”

Many people asked us to run similar events in the future, ranging from yearly to every month! We will certainly organise another one soon. Thank you and well done to those who came and those who led. Many thanks also to Derek Cann, our former Area Secretary, for all his help on the day.

Marie Price, Education and Training Officer