A Lovely Evening

Soprano Clare sent this message following last night’s social event. You can see photos from the evening in the gallery

Raunds Community Choir had their Christmas get-together last night. It was a lovely evening! The food from the local fish and chip shop on Hill Street and the Indian restaurant next door arrived in good time, thanks to Patience, and was enjoyed by all. We loved the entertainment – Lynda’s quiz,  Richard’s piano piece, Carol’s song, Avis’s poems, and especially Bob’s and Vernon’s solos and their brilliant duet. I think they should have their own spot in our next concert!  I hope I haven’t missed out any of the acts. I enjoyed them all.  The evening was rounded off with a good old sing-song  led by the ukuleles.  The company was good and there was lots of laughter. What a wonderful evening!

Thank you to Sally, Chris and all of the committee for their hard work all year round!

After the Christmas Concert…

On Saturday 13th December we performed at The Saxon Hall in Raunds. It was a wonderful evening and we all tried our hardest to make our performance as good as it could be. We were ably supported by our guests, the talented wind orchestra from Manor School, and their head of music Mr. John Bickerdike, who performed three numbers. I hope our audience enjoyed themselves as much as we did.

This was my third Christmas concert with Raunds Choir but it was a first for a few members and they were looking forward to it. But I don’t think there was anyone as enthusiastic or excited as soprano Liz, so I asked her if she would write this week’s blog and she kindly agreed.

“A year in Raunds Community Choir”
My venture began as a new year resolution to start something different; I am now approaching my first year in the choir, and it is the best and longest resolution I have kept! The icing on the cake was performing at Saxon hall for our annual Christmas concert.

After months of preparation we finally celebrated to the community, every seat was taken, and I found it hard to contain my excitement! There is nothing more humbling than to give others pleasure through song and music, and I am very proud to be a part of this group. I felt energised after each applause and only wished the evening would last longer.

My favourite parts of the programme were singing non-English songs such as ‘Dodi Li’, and Listening to the power of our voices without accompaniment for ‘Happy Together’.

Starting a new pursuit on your own can be quite daunting, but I have been made very welcome by the choir and continue to make a lot of new friends. I can’t wait to start next term learning more new songs, and only hope that you will be there to see us perform them.”

Liz

The Jester and the Christmas Song

Jester Hairston  Jester Hairston (1901-2000) was an interesting man. He was an American composer, songwriter, arranger, a travelling choir director and an actor, whose career took him all over the world. He was also the grandson of American slaves. Jester never forgot this fact and dedicated his life to preserving Negro Spirituals, and the history behind them.

He majored in music at university, where he was also a star athlete, and after graduation studied at the Julliard School of Music in New York.

He travelled to Hollywood in 1936 to help arrange the chorus music for the African-American film Green Pastures. In 1937 he became a founding member of the Screen Actors Guild. In 1943 he formed his own choir and arranged the choral background music for many of Hollywood’s outstanding films

Hairston wrote the musical scores for more than 30 films and he appeared in more than 50, including In the Heat of the Night and To Kill a Mocking Bird.

In 1956, Hairston wrote Mary’s Boy Child. It was recorded that same year by both Harry Belfonte and Mahalia Jackson, and has since been performed by multiple artists. The song tells the familiar Christmas story in a melody reminiscent of the music Hairston wanted the world to remember; the Negro Spiritual.

This Christmas Raunds Choir will be singing a lovely arrangment of Mary’s Boy Child. I think it’s safe to say it’s one of our favourites. I hope he would approve.

My favourite version of the song is the original Harry Belafonte version. Which one is yours?

A Special Invitation

In this week’s blog post Brenda wanted to share her recent experience.

“How pleased I was when in mid summer my godson asked if I would like to go to his orchestra’s Christmas Concert on December 1st.

What a concert it turned out to be!

Christopher works at Waitrose Headquarters and has taken full advantage of the musical and sporting facilities that the John Lewis Partnership provides for its employees.

The venue for this special 150th birthday celebration was the Royal Albert Hall. The stage was full of singers and musicians from stores all over the British Isles who entertained us with skill,

enthusiasm and obvious enjoyment. The mood was infectious and soon the orchestra (including Christopher with his viola), soloists and choir were transporting us into another world, I was already there.

This was my first experience of this fantastic building, having seen it on TV doesn’t prepare you for the reality of this auditorium, the light and the sound.

The first half gave us the delightful premiere of a specially commissioned piece based on Good King Wenceslas by Bob Chilcott, The Nutcracker Suite and a compilation of the John Lewis advert music from the past few years, bears and penguins.

The second half gave a whole new meaning to ‘community singing’ as it involved choir, orchestra. organ and audience.

Our seats were right at the top of the auditorium where the swell and volume of voices singing below, lifted us all to notes we may have thought we couldn’t reach.

I found it an overwhelmingly emotional experience, because ‘my boy’ was part of it all and because I can now say that I have sung at the Royal Albert Hall.

Brenda

P.S. Remember always accept invitations from your godchildren; who knows where you might go.”