Fourteen members of the choir, who were part of the Zoom singing group, gathered with friends and family at An Sanctoir near Ballydehob on 28 June to sing a programme of acapella music. Everyone came with picnics, logs for lighting the outdoor fire pit, good cheer and plenty of news for catching up with old friends – all at a suitable social distance of course. With the weather smiling on us, the lovely surroundings and strains of music filling the air we felt really blessed.
Of course there were a few nerves before hand. With current restrictions we’d had precious little time to rehearse together in person in the lead up. Having decided that this would be an informal sharing of songs, we took a deep breath and launched into the joy of singing together. Something we will never take for granted again!
Plans for September include preparing a programme of sacred music for performance (or two) at an evening to remember all those affected by the pandemic. After this we are hoping to start work on the French programme we had to abandon at the beginning of the first lockdown. Wishing you all a happy summer. Susan
After a challenging year we have finally begun to sing together in person – duly be-visored or be-masked and at a suitable distance. Although it has been joyful to get back together to sing this has also brought it’s own problems. Hearing each other across a wide space without the luxury of a resonant building means we are much more reliant on eye contact with the conductor to keep together. We have found the need to know the music and lyrics much more thoroughly as we can’t afford to be buried in the score.
Meetings for SATB and sectional rehearsals have been taking place in Ballydehob.
and in Skibbereen, many thanks to Abbeystrewry church for allowing us to use their sheltered outdoor space.
We will be sharing a lovely programme of summer music at An Sanctoir on Monday evening 28th June for family, friends and other members of the choir who are waiting for in person rehearsals to resume. We’re also hoping to see Annabel, our lovely retired accompanist! Sadly, due to current restrictions, this is not being advertised to the general public.
In December we took advantage of a brief window of opportunity to sing some carols at the Saturday market in Skibbereen as a way of saying thank you for the grant they awarded us towards our new piano fund. We received such lovely feedback and it felt so wonderful to sing in harmony again.
The choir continues to meet for on line rehearsals due to the continuing limitations on movement and person to person contact. It has been heartening to see more members joining us on Monday evenings, although I do understand that others prefer to wait until we can meet for in person rehearsals once more. That day still seems a bit far away but we continue to use this time to expand our repertoire, improve musical skills and maintain healthy voices. Most of us are using our voices less these days, there are few opportunities to raise our voices across a crowded room….. For so many reasons it is important to keep up with your vocal ‘keep fit’ and singing is an ideal way to do this. It helps with the effects of ageing, lifts our mood, improves health, exercises the brain and more.
NEW MEMBERS ARE ALWAYS WELCOME and this may an ideal time to come and try us out. Details of how to join us can be found on the about us page.
It is with great sadness that we announce the retirement of our amazing accompanist Annabel Adams. We had only just started working together before the choral singing world ground to a halt due to the pandemic. I know that the whole choir is going to miss Annabel for her amazing skills as a pianist but also for her warmth as a person and her lively sense of humour. We’re happy to say that she will keep in contact with us and we hope to celebrate her retirement as soon as the situation allows. Susan Nares
Began with the choir in 2003 and Retired in December 2020
Susan is a graduate of Trinity College of Music, London. Her career moved from performance and teaching to music therapy in 2005 when she graduated as a music therapist from Bristol University. This achievement followed a long held conviction about the healing properties of music making and listening.
Her choral experience is broad ranging and her musical interests eclectic. Growing up she gained musical training, in part, through singing with church choirs. As a student she sang with the London Choral Society and the BBC choral society. Susan also regularly performed professionally with smaller chamber ensembles. Her vocal journey led her into singing with an overtone choir, performing music for film and leading the chamber choir, Careless Vespers.
Susan has worked with choirs in school and community settings and was actively involved in the ‘singing for the brain’ movement in collaboration with the Dorset NHS Speech and Language Therapy team. After arriving in West Cork Susan began leading a local church choir. She also founded the Project Choir and directed the world premier of a new oratorio by local composer Justin Grounds. She is hoping to continue Diana’s excellent work by promoting the West Cork Choral Singers in bringing great choral repertoire to West Cork.
PS. Susan says that playing the harp is very much a hobby and that flute and piano accompaniment were her many studies.
There have been times over the past few months when we would be forgiven for thinking that the world of choral singing was over. Following my appointment as the new Choral director in January this year we started working on a programme entitled ‘A breath of French air’ to include Faure’s gorgeous requiem and some other French delicacies. This was not to be as the choir, along with so many others, went into lockdown so that rehearsals and the programme went into a state akin to suspended animation.
As the summer advanced we felt the need to connect and to sing in spite of continued uncertainties and measures to control the spread of Covid. Zoom came to the rescue. Although it’s not designed for singing together it has allowed us to meet up and to work on some new repertoire with the intention of introducing a programme of a capella music to perform outdoors in 2021.
National Singing Week
We had the first taste of how this might be when Sing Ireland invited choirs across Ireland to contribute videos of themselves singing as part of National Sing Week. We only had a few days to produce something so I came up with the idea of creating a mini documentary. This involved creating backing tracks, collecting recordings and holding recording sessions in various locations across West Cork individually and in small groups. The tracks were mixed together and photographs taken. The result was a video slide show documentary and performance of a piece by William Byrd, Non Nobis Domine.
The West Cork Singers just love to sing
Good four-part harmony is their thing
But now we must all stay at home on our own
And practice online or over the phone.
It isn't the same as the all-around sound
Which lifts our spirits and makes our hearts pours.
But we'll stick to the rules, keep washing our hands
And wonder what's happening to all the live bands.
One day the world will find out how to cope
With this virus, till then we live in hope
Of the day we can all cheer and say Hooray!
And joyfully get back to singing Fauré.
Vita, the leader of the Musica Fortuna choir in Turnov (Czech Republic) – where the West Cork Choral Singers visited in 2008 – was in touch with Margaret over Christmas. She kindly passed this on to me.
Hallo dear friend
I wish you and all the members in the choir a good new year. How are you? We here are more or less OK. No big changes in my
family. The choir sings every Monday, some new songs, some new singers. Last year we had no trip abroad. As usual we had 8 performances and concerts before Christmas. Hope to find some place where we could made a trip this summer.
So have a good time, many greetings to all the people in the choir and hope to meet again…