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A cool concert on a hot mid-summer evening

av summer concert

Free! Free! Free to sing at last!

Two empty years and six tricky months since our last performance, the reassembled Audlem Voices at last stood up in St James' Church on Friday 17 June, opened our mouths, and sang and sang and sang before a lovely audience on the warmest night of the year so far (best time to be in a medieval church!).

It is hard to describe the feelings of the choir. We belong to this choir because we love to sing, and we love to sing for an audience, and the drought has been so looooonnnngggg!

And as if that drought wasn't enough, Covid had one more dart to throw – on Friday morning Naomi Newman, our indispensable accompanist, tested positive for Covid and had to withdraw...

Yet here we were! Singing!

Carole Hallows, our chair, welcomed our first audience and introduced Jenny Collis-Smith, our heroic musical director, who both conducted and accompanied us, as well as keeping the audience fully briefed on what we were about to sing.

And off we went, with a mix of our old favourites to launch ourselves into this new era.

Of course, we had to have something by John Rutter, Jenny's favourite composer, and actually it was two somethings, as we started with his beautiful hymn For the Beauty of the Earth and finished up at the end with his rousing arrangement of When the Saints Go Marching In.

On the way from the one to the other, we went from the awed solemnity of Emrys Jones Morte Criste and Edward Elgar's exquisite Requiem Aeternam to the uplifting foot-tapping joyousness of The Rhythm of Life from Cy Coleman's musical 'Sweet Charity'. We leant into Leonard Cohen's beautiful (but somewhat mystifying!) Hallelujah and sang a little seal pup to sleep with Eric Whitacre's The Seal Lullaby. Upgraded nursery rhymes are all the rage, and Michael Diack's Handelian Sing a Song of Sixpence is a perfect example of the genre, not to be missed. We had fun too with perhaps the most famous spy in the world, who has had a lot of songs written for him, and these, of course, were The Best of Bond (takeaway advice: stick with the diamonds!).

Languages are our forte (that's Latin for 'strength', and also means 'loud' in music), and we sang in Spanish for Morten Lauridsen's haunting Soneto de la noche, followed (in English) by his beautiful evocation of a warm summer night, Sure on This Shining Night, which couldn't have been more appropriate as the heatwave hung above us. We could have switched to Italian for Verdi's Speed Your Journey but stayed with our English version for that, saving our Italian for Francesco Sartori's world-famous love song Time to Say Goodbye (Con te partiro).

Our audience applauded mightily and told us they can't wait for our next concert and donated generously to St James' Bell Restoration Appeal – we raised £303!

In all the excitement of this first 'proper' concert for so long, we forgot to appoint someone to camera duty... so all you have to look at is our poster image!

KF for Audlem Voices

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