With more engagements than any previously, 2009 was a full year for the Choir. The first six months involved 20 bookings, which included a wedding, our Annual Concert, and a visit to the West Country.
At our annual concert at the Old Mill Hall, Grove, in March, our guests Mello’D’, a group of six Welsh ladies from Pontypool, were quick to warm the audience, with their exceptional 3-part harmony. From their first song, it was easy to appreciate how they became prizewinners at the Torfael Eisteddford in 2007. Their relaxed, friendly manner helped to make for a happy and very successful concert. We shall be hoping to share the stage again with Mello’D’ in the future. More information about Mello’D’ can be found at website: http://mellod.wetpaint.com . The concert was once again well supported by the local community. We are fortunate to have such a consistently loyal following at our main event for raising choir funds.
In mid-May we enjoyed our second follow-up visit to the West Country for a concert with the Saltash Ladies Choir whom we met for the first time in London, 2006, when both choirs participated in “The Festival of Brass & Voices Concert” at the Royal Albert Hall. Once again we were made to feel honoured by the welcome and generous hospitality of our friends from Saltash and thoroughly enjoyed our weekend away.
The following month we were joined in concert by the Stockham Primary School Choir, helping to raise funds for Breast Cancer Research, as part of the Wantage Summer Festival. It was a joy to experience the singing of the children and the energy and gusto that they applied to their final piece, “Thank You for the Music,” typified the enthusiasm that they brought to their programme.
The second half of the year entailed almost 30 engagements, shared equally between the Day Group and the Main Choir, and included two weddings.
In July, a 90th birthday party in the grounds of a local tavern and a wedding at Hedsor, Buckinghamshire were among our 4 engagements. August is, by tradition, a quiet month for the Choir and in September and October our engagements were curtailed to enable due preparation for the Royal Albert Hall concert at the end of October. Amongst our six bookings during this period was an invitation to round-off a fund-raising day in the Cotswold countryside, with an evening concert for a village church (see below.)
The end of October saw us travelling to London to take part in the “Festival of Brass and Voices” concert at the Royal Albert Hall, in aid of Cancer Research UK. The “voices” belonged to our choir, another 39 male choirs and 27 female choirs, ranging over almost the whole of the length of the country, from Newcastle-Upon-Tyne to Saltash, Cornwall. The Brass element was provided by two of the nation’s most famous brass bands from Yorkshire, The Brighouse & Rastrick Band and The Grimethorpe Colliery Band. A weekend spent in the capital ended in an impromptu gathering of several of the participating choirs on the Sunday morning, in Covent Garden, to sing some more well-known choral favourites.
Seven engagements were completed in the first two weeks of December, which included the Town Mayor’s Carol Concert, a fund-raising concert with Roke & Benson Brass band and our Christmas meal. The carols continued after Christmas, as we performed at a wedding on the 28th at Sonning-on-Thames, with the pre-Christmas snow still on the ground.
Looking back, 2009 was our busiest year to date, with a total of 49 bookings, including a hectic festive season with 8 engagements in December. The main reason for the record number of concerts was the increasing activity of the Daytime Group, formed in 2008.
A busy time indeed, especially for our music team.
Cotswold Concert. (See above.)
The concert was held in a marquee in the grounds of a manor house and the sides of the marquee were opened up, to allow everyone gathered to enjoy the pleasant late-September evening. The concert was progressing normally until, with the choir in full voice, the front-row choristers observed what seemed to be a duck waddling towards the stage. It rapidly made towards Cathie, our MD, and in no time at all was showing a distinct interest in her heels. How the Choir and Cathie managed to hold “Stout Hearted Men” together as the duck took an inquisitive but friendly peck at her ankle, whilst she, conducting with arms aloft, gave a spon-taneous hop of alarm, was .... unforgettable!