I’ve always sung in choirs. There was a time, in the innocence of youth, that I had aspirations to be a professional singer. In light opera. With the D’Oyly Carte Opera Company. As a teenager I lived in the Gods at the Theatre Royal, Newcastle whenever the Gilbert and Sullivan light operas were being performed. Then my voice broke. The wrong way. It just wasn’t good enough.
So, Jeanie has encouraged me to join a new choir. It is a very young choir, in its second season and full of people almost as old as I am, so its youth needs to be taken with a pinch of salt. Andante - at walking pace. Appropriate for me these days. Jeanie sang with the choir last year and being the ever dutiful husband, I attended its pre-Christmas concert. I was charmed. The conductor teaches at a local international school and joined her adult choir with her pupils’ choir in the concert. She knows what she is doing with the baton.
The next concert will mainly feature John Rutter’s ‘Requiem’ which Jeanie and I have both sung previously. I love it. There is something magical about the sound Rutter creates. And he is like that in real life too. Some years ago, we were fortunate enough to attend a ‘Day with John Rutter’ workshop in the parish church in Corbridge, Northumberland. It was magnificent. About 500 people enjoying making music at the direction of a master. Not just a master of music. There is something so very human about the man. A man that anyone could delight in. The whole day was a triumph. He is skilled, knowledgable, has an easy manner of delivery that inspires and he has a joyful natural touch with it.
I missed my teenage aspiration to sing but there is always a tune in my head. Often just a snatch of two or three notes. It is strange, as a boy, my mother always wanted me to learn poems off by heart. I frequently disappointed her. I recall the very able but infuriating girl, daughter of the people who ran a bed and breakfast in Callender where we were staying. Every night, she recited a different poem for my mother. Dad didn’t seem particularly interested. Conversation would turn to what I could recite. It was very little. But if I’d been asked to sing - I wasn’t - I could have sung a song, with correct words and in tune. It never happened. When mother became bed ridden and had lost the power of speech, I used to read poems to her. It was possible to see by the faint smile on her lips and the residual sparkle in her eyes, that the verses meant something to her. She could memorise in a way I never could. Yet I find it so easy to memorise a tune.
John Rutter’s clever and inspirational musical themes are my current constant companions.