A random post into another big part of my life, my local choir. A bit of a blast from the past and what I currently.
Random Wednesdays have become, recently, a bit of a LARP Froth. I love my new adventuring goodness and the chance to be out and out geeky, talking costumes and phys-rep and In-Character, Out-Of-Character with all the other people. Even with you *gestures to those beyond the screen*, sharing costume goodness and injured limbs, hazards and near-miss fatalities (my poor hands). I’m learning my lessons, will investigate getting some sports top bottles to handily hold my dyed water (cheers guys!).
But I’ve not talked about some of the other elements of my normal every day existence – singing.
I joined a choir when I was little (talking primary school age, maybe seven at the youngest) at my local parish church. I was baptised at the parish church and it became a huge part of my life. I’ve been told I qualified for acceptance into my primary school because I was involved with the attached church and lived “just” outside of the catchment area (not to mention added to the numbers of the small reception class) – going to this school got my into my high school after we moved which led into my sixth form and onwards to university. I eventually was confirmed (in my faith) at this church, helped re-establish a monthly fair trade tradecraft stall, ran a Junior PCC as chairman, participated in the reading rota and usually got roped into a whole host of church activities at the last minute (still do). I grew up under the watchful eye of church members and various choir members and when I go home for holidays I get a huge sense of homecoming by stepping into this building. It’s not just a church, it’s my family. I’ll eventually be getting married here next year, something I’m really looking forward to.
So I was an adorable little chorister, in a boy’s light blue robe (my church’s colour) with a ruffled collar (ick) and a white surplice (the white sheet over the top). I grew from small and giddy through the pale blue ribbon, advancing to serious dark blue and superior red, taking my (rightful) place as Head Chorister during the later stages of my teenage years when we had a sudden desertion by all those my age. I had a special medal on my red ribbon and I sat at the end of the bench. I got to do solos. I was looked up to (maybe even feared) by some of our more junior members. I got to do “Once in Royal David’s City” at Christmas (which only the head chorister was allowed to do).
I was Head Chorister for a number of years before hanging up my ribbon when I went to University. Then I stopped singing.
I didn’t realise how much I’d miss it until I went home at Christmas and was shanghaied back into the choir. Singing those soaring descants to those good old Christmas carols (I can’t not sing the descants now, it’s physically difficult) with other people who love the music reminded me of what I’d lost and I admit I was a little sad when I went back after the holiday. I didn’t manage to find a choir until I chanced upon a service at my local church. I knew the church existed but I hadn’t been, and luckily I managed to catch the last big thing before the Summer break.
I had never seen so many juniors. Nor so many adult choristers. Nor so many men (in choir robes). They had so many people it was incredible. This choir was amazing! I was approached later by the then junior choir mistress who gave me her contact details and the start date in September. I started in my second year and have been with them ever since.
I’ve seen conductors come and go in the short time I’ve been around, our current conducting duo are actual members of the choir which gives a different perspective on things. I now get to do a whole heap of different challenging music throughout the year, doing some incredible pieces for the “big” services in the calendar and regular Evensong services which can, at times, move me to tears.
We do a hell of a lot of singing. Usually two services (morning and evening) three times a month, with a 1 hour 30 Wednesday rehearsal, with additional services for the special feast days (Christ the King, Ash Wednesday etc.). We also do the “big” services like Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, Easter Sunday, various Advent services and more beside. We are supported by another choir at the Church (the Baptistery choir, we’re the Antiphon or “Cathedral” choir) as well as the Junior choir. We do so much stuff during the year, we get given 6 weeks off in the summer where all the services are said which makes a nice change. At times its all consuming, but it’s fun and I wouldn’t give it up.
I act as choral assistant for the Junior choir (read Crowd Control) which is really good fun (most of the time – the odd weeks when they’re in a funny mood is like pulling teeth) and fantastically rewarding when you see how far this bunch of kids has come since September. This does mean I’m doing choir things for nearly 3 hours on a Wednesday evening, monthly Ribbon Training and the odd kids only service, but its all great fun and we do a load of great music. It also means I get to learn pieces with the kids to then do with the adults so bonus! We also play some fun music games with the kids (sometimes I win) and it can be a nice break from doing coursework.
Sundays do become a bit of a long day, though they did make me take a day off this year, since I physically couldn’t get into the working mode and do productive work in the time between services and meals. I’m a little naughty that I don’t go to Church if I’m not singing, but I feel that if I get one Sunday off a month having done all that I do, it’s not too bad.
It does mean that Lord A384 and I swap kiddy stories (Lord A384 is a scout leader) and sometimes try to see who has the worst trouble maker – well, since he plays with fire, I think his kids usually win.
But no, Choir has played a huge part in my musical and personal development and I can probably say that it’s played a significant part in making me who I am. I grew up with a big sense of community as a child and got involved in giving back to my community by being part of my old parish church. And whilst I’m living away from my parents and go to my own church and belong to a fairly active choir, my first church will always be my church.