Eighteen months ago it seemed such a simple idea – plan an afternoon of singing and invite anyone interested to come along and experience at first hand what it’s like to be part of BFC and BFYC. Little did we know what lay in store for us before our plans could be realised! But realised they were Saturday when the impressively huge space of All Saints, Hove echoed with the voices of members of both choirs and an audience of enthusiastic singers all prepared to have a go!
Starting with a workshop led by Juliette Pochin we stood taller, breathed deeper, imitated a croaky witch (very good for getting the vocal chords in the right place) and had fun singing increasingly complicated rounds.
After a short break for cake, James Morgan took over and led the 150 or so of us in extracts from Carmina Burana. Never before have those dramatic opening chords of O Fortuna been sung with such relief, joy and panache! As James said ‘Carmina Burana seemed a suitably decadent, unrestrained and debauched choice of music for the unlocking of choirs – great to be rehearsing singers who you can see AND hear!’
After another break for more cake – and wine – the audience settled down to listen to the choirs. Revelling in performing some of the pieces we had all worked on in Zoom rehearsals, BFYC took the first slot with favourites Chatanooga Choo Choo & Gimme Hope Jo’anna.
Both choirs joined together to sing the most beautiful arrangement of Shenandoah, then BFC took over, singing the two pieces which they had sung under dripping trees in a storm force gale for the Brighton Festival Under the Wild Wood Tree event in May. What a relief it was to be doing them again in the dry! The short programme concluded with BFC singing their Zoom rehearsal favourite – George Shearing’s gorgeous arrangements of Shakespeare songs.
We hope that we gave the audience a flavour of the eclectic repertoire that both choirs sing, the standards that we aim to achieve and the fun we have doing it. There was some wonderful and impressive singing from everyone there, several people signed up for auditions and others joined our mailing list so we can keep them in close touch with our next events.
But the primary aim of the afternoon was to bring back live singing and with such a joyous and sell out event we truly felt we had achieved this.