Spring and The Manchester Chorale arrive in Stockport
The Manchester Chorale’s second concert of the year took place in St Mary’s in the Marketplace on 28th March. St Mary’s is a beautiful church next to Stockport’s indoor market with an imposing position on the hill going up Churchgate. The interior was no less impressive, and a hint of busyness around the ‘Nave Cafe’ told us this was a very active church.
For this concert, we were sharing the evening with the Norris Bank Primary School Choir. The link between the two choirs is our MD, Jill Henderson–Wild, who works for the Stockport Music Service.
So there were about 50 children in the NBPS Choir; and their parents were in the audience. Good idea – the kids get to hear what a good choir sounds like and see us enjoying singing, their parents get to hear us and will be motivated to keep their kids singing, and we get to sing to a full house. We’ll probably do this again.
The children sang two sets: lots of percussion in the first set; the second set finishing with ‘Let It Go’ from the film Frozen. All was sung to great acclaim by the audience.
We started the concert by walking in singing a yoik to call in the reindeer – none appeared! In case you’re wondering what a yoik is, it’s a chanting song-form from the Sami people of Lapland. (By the way, there’s a yoik at the start of Frozen that would make a good song for The Chorale.)
We followed that with a mix of pieces from all over the world: Norway, Finland, Sweden (can you see a pattern?), France, Canada, USA, UK and Africa. An eclectic combination of beautiful music, each piece getting warm applause. Bob Chilcott was the most performed composer of the night with two songs and two arrangements. ‘House of the Rising Sun’ was very bluesy with piano and stick-bass accompaniment. ‘Tell My Ma (when I get home)’ is a Northern Ireland children’s song that we took at a faster pace than usual(!). Both are great arrangements. The quirkiest piece of the night was Poulenc’s ‘La blanche neige’. So quirky that I keep hearing snatches of it in my head. No one is quite sure what it’s about, though some have ventured a guess.
The music for the night finished with two African songs, sung from memory. The first was a Zulu freedom song – very exciting to sing especially when we all got to ‘Ku-lu-le-ko’ – ‘freedom’. The NBPS Choir joined us for the last song ‘O-re-mi’, a Nigerian highlife song. Jill had coached the kids, who did a fine job, especially where it went into four parts – a canon on the half bar. Impressive, and we were all doing stomp-stepping at the same time.
There was a lot of to-ing and fro-ing on and off the stage but the night went very smoothly. In a short speech, The Chorale’s Chairperson, John Eaden, pointed out to the children that the members of The Chorale had all started their musical careers in school choirs and encouraged them to keep singing. Finally, he presented Norris Bank Primary School with a charitable donation from The Chorale to enable them to purchase a portable amplifier and speaker to play backing tracks for singing lessons.
Our thanks go to the Rector of Stockport Revd. Roger Scoones for introducing us at the start and allowing us to perform in his lovely church.