Saturday, 19 April 2008

Community choirs - and a surprise 'c'

A whole day of full-throated singing at the Community Choirs Festival, Warwick University.

Some twenty singing groups gathered, more or less filling the University's Butterworth Hall.

We learned songs and chants from around the world, took part in a call-and-response workshop with a Congolese leader, and, finally, performed our party pieces to one another.

Binding all together is the distinctive approach of the 'natural voice network' - which maintains that anyone can enjoy taking part in choral singing.

So, no auditions, no regimented rows, no printed music. We warm up, loosen up and learn by listening and repeating. It's fun, energizing and, for me, liberating and joy-inducing.

We closed with a South African farewell song:
Remember me, forget me not
Think of me, wherever you go
I am yours and you are mine
Remember me wherever you go

Lovely, rather haunting tune. The song was brought back from SA by a Cheltenham choir that has a strong link with the Diamond Singers, a choir of workers employed in the de Beers mines.

Part of the choir's role is to spread positive health messages, particularly related to HIV Aids.

Read the lyrics again. 'Remember Me' is in fact a very memorable, very timely reminder to carry and use condoms.

Maybe there's a 'natural voice' singing group near you.

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