… at St. Michaels Parish Church, Linlithgow where NYCoS West Lothian Choirs entertained us beautifully on Sunday evening.There is nothing quite like a young disciplined choir of pure, melodious crystal clear voices rising and falling effortlessly under the baton of their dedicated director. Well done to Graham Boyce and team ( I would happily have stayed for more carols!) I am no stranger to choirs myself and Ciara is often surprised that her Nana knows lots of her programme of music.
My first theatrical experience was in P.7, when we we were informed that our class was to be the big finale of a school concert. We were to be a choir and we were to sing a piece of music called ‘The Barcarolle’.
My class teacher, at that time, was a lovely, pious spinster who could ‘start’ a hymn but was somewhat lacking in the teaching of music for public consumption. Practices were held in the ‘cookery room’ during lunchtimes where other slightly more talented members of staff would have a go at ‘dinning’ the melody into us. It was arranged that girls and boys would have separate rehearsals.
After several weeks we became aware that the boys were being taught a different ‘choon’ but were learning the same words. About a week before the performance the first rehearsal for boys AND girls was announced. At last we would find out who was singing it ‘right’! Well was I wrong. That great coming together of the rival bands of singers was an utter cacophony! This was when we learned about a descant. Extra practices were required to match the descant to the melody but this did not always result in harmony.
On the night of the performance the best we could hope to achieve was to start together and finish together. The pianist (whom we had never seen before!) played the accompaniment which we were hearing for the very first time! For those who don’t know ‘The Barcarolle’, the effect intended is that of a gently rocking boat and the rhythm reflects this. To a boy/girl the entire choir began to sway from side to side and did not stop till the final note from the pianist. It must have been like a forerunner to a ‘Mexican Wave’. Fortunately, the audience was distracted by the movement, some choir members were violently seasick and the poor class teacher was covered in confusion, embarrassment and strands of her usually perfectly coiffured tresses. We were never asked to perform again!
Jacques Offenbach continues to ‘birl’ and ‘decompose’ in his grave!