‘BUON NATALE’: An Evening of Italian Christmas Carols
Tuesday 24 November, 7.45-8.45pm | via Zoom
Join Woking Ladies Choir and Musical Director Julie Aherne for a festive evening learning two simple Italian Christmas songs. You’ll learn the rules of Italian pronunciation, how to use the language expressively, and understand why Italian is famously the most beautiful language to sing in. Free entry; bring your own Prosecco and panettone optional!
ORDINARILY on Remembrance Sunday, Woking Ladies Choir have the honour of singing at the Remembrance Day Parade in the centre of Woking, alongside the Salvation Army Band.
This year, the event looks rather different to usual – attended by 30 representatives, and live-streamed on the Council’s website – but we are pleased to mark the occasion with Mozart’s Ave Verum, performed from our homes by some of our choir members.
TUESDAY 8th September 2020, we return to physical rehearsals.
We are in a new venue (Old Woking Community centre) to cope with all the Covid requirements.
Seating, printing of music, face visors, covid questionnaires, risk assessments and cleaning rotas etc have been carried or set up; so we are as sure as we can be to limit the risk to a minimal degree.
As usual the can-do attitude of all choir members, Musical Director and Accompanist have made this all possible with the minimum of fuss.
If you are thinking of joining a choir, we may be one of a very few rehearsing at the moment. Places are limited, so be sure to contact us if you are thinking of joining, as we would need to check numbers.
We’re looking forward to a tuneful autumn term, together at last.
MONDAY 16th March brought the announcement from Karen, our chair, that our rehearsals and concert were cancelled for the time being, while the world grappled with Covid-19.
Julie soon organised and sent us details of Zoom rehearsals that she set up and drove forward for us.
While not being everyone’s cup of tea (understandably) and some not being able to join us, a good 18 or so ladies attended every week to learn a new piece and sing along with Julie (or not!). It was lovely to see so many members making music over the internet and we were able to have a little chat before and afterwards.
I’m sure our families were delighted (!) with our solos, which are quite difficult to pick up and sing without the support of our other part voices. I think ‘The Impossible Dream’ stood out for me as the impossible notes! We also tackled ‘You’ve Got A Friend’, ‘Magic Moments’, ‘Make You Feel My Love’, ‘What A Wonderful World’ and ‘The Lily And The Rose’ just to mention a handful. We attempted a fair number – a new one every week, which kept our interest as it is not the most fun way to participate in group singing. Not being able to hear anyone else except yourself and Julie (nothing wrong with Julie’s singing) and seeing everyone’s mouths move some time after yours is quite disconcerting.
Julie set us a challenge to record a virtual choir piece which many attempted and, while it was a lot of work for Julie and tough for us to record, its lovely to have something to show as a choir singing together at the end of what has been one of the most difficult terms. Here’s the wonderful result ‘Make you feel my love‘
Some of our number have not been able to join us, for various reasons and we have missed every one of them and are so looking forward to being together again and singing in a group. Oh, to be able to hear someone else singing my part with me!
Sadly, Marilyn, who has been a member for the longest of our current members, has decided that now is the right time to fold up her virtual music stand and won’t be joining us anymore. We will all miss you Marilyn and wish you all the very best.
The term ended with a vote for the songs we’d like to sing again, a quiz and a chat together. Here are the songs we enjoyed singing through – in Julie’s words: Hallelujah (Leonard Cohen, not Handel, just to clarify), The Lily and the Rose, and What a Wonderful World. Great choices!
What a Wonderful World – things we could celebrate at this weird and wonderful period in our lives. We’ve made the most of what we could and are determined to carry on- ‘we’ll meet again, don’t know where, don’t know when…’
TUESDAY 18th February was our spring term social evening.
I’ll only add a short post for this event to have the record of it for our members.
This year we decided against fish and chips and, instead, everyone brought contributons – providing chili, baked potato, salad, quiche etc buffet. We also enjoyed some bite size rocky road to finish off with – yum. As usual, on the food front, the girls did themselves proud – and I’m happy to say there was far too much delicious food for us to eat!
Being a foodie – I’m so glad we’re as good at cooking and organising a spread as we are at singing. 🙂
Joy provided a marvellous quiz with picture, lyrics, addresses and potluck rounds. There was much hilarity when one of our team shouted out the first answer rather than writing it down, all adding to the light-hearted ambience of the evening. Still, we were all in the same boat and we soon got the hang of it! It was a good mix of questions – so everyone managed to get a fair few right while still having challenges with some.
Many hands make light work, and with everyone washing, drying, putting away, clearing furniture and vacuuming soon there was no evidence of the wonderful fun evening with our lovely friends in the choir.
Thanks to everyone for their help and contributions, and especially to Brenda for organising us and Joy for the quiz.
TUESDAY 21st January, the choir hosted a vocal workshop attracting 12 new faces.
Julie Aherne our talented and inspiring musical director put together a fun evening of rounds and chants interspersed with 2 songs we will be singing in the concert.
Everyone was fully engaged, and we made a fantastic sound together. While practising the rounds we experienced singing differing tunes at the same time, preparing the ground for singing in parts for the concert pieces.
By the end of the first half we were able to tackle Va pensiero, by Verdi – better known as the Chorus of the Hebrew Slaves. An operatic piece which, with Julie’s excellent explanations, we were able to tackle the words and annunciation reasonably well. Soon after learning the notes we sang the piece through and Julie pronounced our singing as really lovely. A fantastic feat for our newly formed group for the evening.
We repeated the same format for the second half and were able to finish the evening with a rousing rendition of Bring him home, from Les Miserables. Which everyone was very pleased with.
Mention must be made of several cakes which we happily enjoyed in the break and added to the special feel of the evening.
Our thanks to Julie for her hard work, Camilla with her expertise in accompanying us, the choir for making everyone so welcome (and bringing cakes providing tea and coffee), and of course our amazing guests who were brave enough to join a strange group of people and sing out loud! – Well done everyone!
A Postcript – 50% of our guests came back – and joined us.
Our Christmas concert lived up to the expectations of the choir and the audience with a wonderful programme spanning from the atmospheric classical Britten piece – A Ceremony of Carols – to popular songs and traditional Carols.
We opened with the Britten and with the help of the amazing Cecily Beer, accompanying us on the harp, and soloist Camilla Jeppeson, gave a thoughtful and characterful performance. There was a real feel of a wintry Christmas and times past as we progressed through the piece.
Turning our attention to the ubiquitous Rutter the audience were delighted with the better known Nativity Carol and Star Carol pieces.
We were all treated to a sparkling duet by Camilla Jeppeson, Soprano (usually our accompanist) and Cecily Beer, Harpist (resident harpist at the Waldorf Hotel). Two songs: A hymn to the Virgin and Jesukin, and in the second half Camilla performed the delightful piece ‘Ah! Je veux vivre’ from Roméo et Juliette, this time accompanied by our own Musical Director Julie Aherne. Working with our choir their responsibilities are the other way about, so it was lovely to hear them together in roles they are better known for (check out their websites to see how lucky we are to have them).
It was wonderful to experience these top-class musicians performing at our Concert, topped off with a solo, in the second half, from Cecily Beer on the harp. An intriguing piece Clair de Noël – Christmas variations on Clair de lune.
The concert also featured audience participation Carols and these were enthusiastically attempted by everyone. A complimentary supper provided by members of the choir, and our popular hamper raffle were both enjoyed in the interval.
Christmas isn’t Christmas without the John Lewis Adverts so we gave suitable service to three of the charming songs used in recent years. Your song, Somewhere Only We Know, and The Power of Love (Frankie goes to Hollywood). These were enthusiastically received and our splendid renditions, no doubt stopped John Lewis profits from plummeting even more this year!
The choir offered solo performances: White Christmas beautifully sung by Sue Campbell, Roisin Miskelly, Connie Pierre and, by Rosalind Taylor joining with the choir singing Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas. These popular Christmas standards were rapturously applauded by our appreciative audience.
With a light reading from Brenda Frost about a little lamb’s experience of the first Christmas and finishing with a magical version of O Holy night the choir once again gave a concert we can be proud of, with something in it for everyone. A varied programme we felt able to tackle due to the tireless encouragement, skills and patience of Julie Aherne.
Don’t miss our next concert on Saturday 28th March 7:30 pm when will be exploring the idea of Home and what it means to us near and far.