Many thanks to everyone who took part and helped to make it a wonderful day. Thank you to the photographers for helping us record the day. These events are always very much a team effort. A special thank you to the solo performers and accompanists; Lyubov Parkomenko, Olivia Killeen, Kevin Kearney, Alfie Kennedy, Michael Martioli, Noel Burke, Uwe Hage, Nuala Gibbons, Peter O’Rourke and Kevin Lewis.
Over the 30 years of the choirs existence we have been lucky to build strong support in our local communities. Some come just to listen and cheer us on while others come to sing and stay. Recently we have lost two valued friends who both sang with and supported the choir.
The first was Leda May, whose lovely logo design (above) is still being used by the choir. There is a retrospective exhibition of Leda’s beautiful works opening at the Blue House Gallery in Schull on April 27th. We will be dedicating our performance of the Jazz Missa Brevis to her memory on Saturday 28th when we perform Will Todd’s joyful music at the evening concert. So full of creativity and curiosity, we hope she would have approved.
Sadly, another friend passed away on Easter Sunday. Christopher Houdaille, Who operated the sail making loft at the Church of Ireland, Goleen. Originally from Brittany, Christopher achieved much in his 59 years. Before moving to West Cork he had been a sea adventurer, twice circumnavigating the world and solo sailing in the South Atlantic and Indian oceans. That’s just for starters! He was a generous supporter of the choir for which we are grateful.
The memory of Leda and Christopher will live long amongst their friends and communities.
There’s definitely a feeling of spring and a promise of summer in the air, as the above quote by Hal Borland says.
We are just about to enter our summer term and a series of concerts that would have seemed impossible just a few weeks ago. We are working hard learning the ins and outs of Fauré’s beautiful Requiem and some additional French repertoire, see upcoming events.
One of our new members wrote an article, about getting back to singing together, published in this week’s Southern Star. Many thanks to Phillipa for helping to keep up our profile and raising awareness about the choir locally.
After a delayed start to our spring term rehearsals it feels really great to be back singing. What a joy to be free to get together and begin work on our new programme of French music for a series of concerts planned for this summer. If you have been thinking of getting back to singing then now is a good time to come and join us on Monday evenings. (See how. )
Even though Fauré’s beautiful Requiem is written in latin we aim to sing some pieces in French. Singing French has its special challenges. The need for nasal vowel sounds for example;
“Without enough nasal quality in those very particular French vowels, you’ll sound like an awkward American, speaking Italian with a bad head cold”
To help begin to tune our ears to the French ‘sound’ I promised to share a song of the week. I’ve chosen ‘Le Secret’ by Fauré sung by Gé Souzay. It is the tenderest of love songs. (Warning: The video shows a slide show of paintings of women in various states of dress and undress.) Text and translation below.
Thinking further ahead to a winter 2022 programme I’d like to harp back to our November 2021 concerts. If you missed out on singing O Magnum Mysterium then there may yet be another opportunity. Oliver put together a slide show of excerpts of the music from All Saint’s and St Fachtna’s. The full works are in our members dropbox folder.
We welcomed a well loved visitor to our rehearsal on 1st November. Just like old times, and with a merry twinkle in her eye, Annabel came along to help us prepare the finale for our performances at the end of November (see upcoming events page). Choir members took the opportunity to show their appreciation for all the years Annabel has served as accompanist and friend and to shower her with gifts and praise. Annabel was just as keen to get down to the music making!
With thanks to Jacqueline Weij for the photographs.
Have you noticed how the robins are singing their autumn song along with many migrating birds? Perhaps we are not having to defend our territory like the birds but we are joining in the chorus to lift our spirits. We are so happy to be back to in person rehearsals and working towards a beautiful programme for this November.
The choir have been wonderfully adaptable and positive in negotiating the new norms. The result has been a shift in the way we used to operate, necessity being the mother of invention, as we try to adhere to pandemic guidelines and safety considerations. Rather than weekly whole choir rehearsals we have spent the first few weeks holding sectional rehearsals in our usual hall and in Abbeystrewry church. Once a month we have met in the huge church in Drimoleague thanks to the kindness of Father Liam.
The best laid plans sometimes go awry and our first attempt to meet as whole choir did just that. When we arrived at All Saints’, Drimoleague, we were met with a car park full of vans and cars belonging to a Channel 4 filming operation. We tentatively poked our heads round the church to find that it was full of silent worshippers – no room at the inn! Happily we found an alternative venue at very short notice.
Here is a comment on our first rehearsal of the term;
Belated thanks for a marvellous start to the Real Live rehearsals. Dramatic, but weren’t we lucky to have Debbie’s local knowledge? Who would have thought Drimoleague to be so packed with events: a film set, a vigil AND the WCCS! That first note when we all sang together was so moving and memorable: a confirmation of the joy of making music together and surely a sign that the Zooms were worthwhile. It was great to have others back with us again, a real encouragement and support in our new term. But most of all, THANK YOU for your work, your patience and your choice of music.
From the 22nd October it seems that the guidelines are being relaxed further. This means we will go ahead with our performances in November, although audiences may still be restricted in number. Our programme has been designed as a kind of gathering or opportunity to get together to reflect on all that has been happening for us; for our families, friends and communities, in the past 20 months. Much of the music is unaccompanied – the naked voice singing in sweet harmony seems a fitting choice for this event. Words will also be offered in the form of readings and in a candle lighting ceremony which will give a time for reflection.
We would like to thank All Saints’ Drimoleague and St Fachtna’s Rosscarbery for their generosity in hosting these performances.
I’ll finish this blog by sharing some words by the wonderful jazz pianist Keith Jarrett:
Fourteen members of the choir, who were part of the Zoom singing group, gathered with friends and family at An Sanctóir near Ballydehob on 28th 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 beforehand. 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 its 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 Sanctóir 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 the Choir page.