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Last night at the World Premiere of In Flagrante's Winter Concert 2023 we saw and heard ourselves on the big screen. 

 

Although it was the bleak mid-winter, some choir members braved it out in the cold dressed in their finery, glitz and glamour, while others took the option of wearing warmer clothes!

 

It was a great gathering in a small informal room with easy chairs and sofas with wine flowing or hot tea and nibbles to hand.

 

All was ready and we were soon all seated and watching the first half, complete with interviews from choir members and the audience. Unfortunately, the sound quality wasn’t great as it was coming through the computer speakers.  However, it was still good to see.

 

During the interval, while everyone was mingling and imbibing and getting their own special memory sticks, Alan did an amazing job with his technical skills along with his assistant, Carol. They discovered if you plug the memory stick into the TV USB socket, the sound was incredible when we watched the second half as it came through the TV speakers.

 

Remember to try this at home – plug your stick into the back of your TV. For those who were not there on the night, you can collect your memory sticks on Tuesday.

 




Watching our performance, as if we were sitting in the audience, was an amazing experience and it highlights how all the hard work of just nine weeks culminated in such a wonderful sound and we can be very proud of ourselves.

 

Of course, watching the concert as a whole from a distance, you can also be your own critic and spot areas where we can improve, not just from the singing point of view, but from the performance angle too.

 

The term leading up to the summer concert near the end of July (date to be announced soon) will be longer than the preparation time for the Winter Concert, so we’ll have more time to perfect our performance.

 

The starter songs are already in the Dropbox, so please print off your music scores and listen to the tracks, so we can be ready to hit the ground running on 16 January.

 

As a little taster, The House of the Rising Sun, an old classic, is a new song for all of us.

 



This song is a traditional folk song, sometimes called "Rising Sun Blues". It tells of a person's life gone wrong in the city of New Orleans.

 

Many versions also urge a sibling or parents and children to avoid the same fate.

 

The most successful commercial version, recorded in 1964 by the British rock band The Animals, was a number one hit on the UK Singles Chart and in the US and Canada. As a traditional folk song recorded by an electric rock band, it has been described as the "first folk rock hit".

An interview with Eric Burdon revealed that he first heard the song in a club in Newcastle, England, where it was sung by the Northumbrian folk singer Johnny HandleThe Animals were on tour with Chuck Berry and chose it because they wanted something distinctive to sing.




Don’t forget to scroll to the bottom and check out our new On the Trillers Perch, a special area for members to share their visits to: The Theatre, Opera, Ballet, Cinema or any Exhibitions you may have been to. Perhaps give stars * out of 5. Just email a paragraph to Pauline. This was inspired by our own Michael Lowe who has started us off with a poem.


Our Winter Concert

We began in September,

dazzling evening sun slanting across our song sheets,

snatched smiles about summer in the Algarve, Boston, or Corfu,

some golfers still finishing their game outside,

and some in the choir looked out longingly.

We finished in December,

Only 14 weeks later….. but a world apart now:

a new king so a new queen,

and an old war not that distant----no choir concerts there.

Wet and cold here now, but we, warm with our singing.

Lyrics by Sammy Kahn, Franz Gruber, John and Paul, Don McLean

Music by Mumford and Sons, Irving Berlin, the Turtles, Jeff Lynne

With new arrangements by Eamonn and Elliot,

some difficult.

As we edge towards our Concert,

much improved from only 3 weeks ago,

Elliot urges, corrects us, repeats, sighs, smiles--wanly at times.

Then we sing.

We smile when our audience shows their pleasure,

we are delighted that Elliot is happy, proud and content.


Michael Lowe

7 December2023

See you all in good voice on Tuesday

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This was our last practice session as next week we have our dress rehearsal, which will be more about the interaction with the Musical Director, the pianist and In Flagrante, as we perform the whole concert, preferably without having to fine tune anything!

 

It was a very good run through with us in our concert formation.  A few mistakes and it is just these little things that need attention which will make the difference to it being an alright concert or an absolutely fabulous one!


In General (please take note even if you’ve probably heard it all before!)

Look up from your music – everyone wants to see your faces, not the top of your heads!

Watch Elliot for entrances and cut offs and the dynamics – he is there to give you reassurance and guidance.

Engage with the audience – sing to the back of the room.




Look as if you are enjoying yourselves (that will be infectious and the audience will enjoy it too)

Tell the story of each song; we have such a variety of styles, so embrace each one and get that emotion across and change the tempo of the room

Keep up the energy, not only with the fast songs, but the slow ones too, like Silent Night, so they don’t sound dirge-like

Turn the pages of your music quietly, so no one can hear you

Do NOT turn the pages at the end of song until the last note of the piano is played.  Remember some songs have longer instrumental endings, so stand perfectly still.


Lets do it our way and enjoy!



 

 






The Little Things

The Rainbow Connection – the ending – after ‘ ..lovers and dreamers’ pause and wait until you hear the high notes and then, ‘and me’

 

Vincent - do NOT slow down at the end.  As the piano fades, keep that metronome going in your head so ‘perhaps they never will’ is the same tempo as the rest of the song.

 

Eleanor Rigby is clipped and mechanical sounding. 

Altos watch your entrances and Sops finish singing ‘…they all belong’ before the Altos, who end the singing followed by a long instrumental ending where we all stay perfectly still!

 

Autumn Leaves – extend the vowels, especially on ‘miss’.  Sound both ‘ts’ on ‘Start to fall’

 

Happy Together – keep the energy going to the end.  Keep verses short and staccato

 

What’ll I Do – Fabulous ‘Dms’ from Altos and Sops. 

Altos ‘What’ll I do’ on page 2 is a little flat, so practise getting the first note and the rest will fall into place.

Tenors/Basses sing the verses as a long smooth line and not jumpy. Be prepared for the quick entry of ‘When I’m alone..’

 

Lean on Me – Pleaze (with a ‘z’) with a long ‘ea’ – extend that vowel and place the ‘z’.

Tenors/basses don’t be too late coming in with ‘I just might…’

 

Winter Winds – again elongate the vowels.

During the long introduction to the duet, everyone else turn over your page ready to join in. If you forget to turn the page, do NOT do it while the duet is singing.

 

Mr Blue Sky – this was very good.  Send it to the audience and let them hear all the different aspects of this song before we send them off to the bar for a drink

 

Carol of the Bells – we welcome the audience back, so keep it bright and full of energy. 

There is no time to breathe, so take a breath when you can,preferably not at the same time as everyone else, and then no one will notice.

Don’t get caught up with the words going on and on so the ending comes as a surprise; be ready for it. There is a little chord placed just before the last Ding, dong ding dong’.

 

Mr Grinch – this is the best we have sung it so far – but it can still get better with a few little things!

At the end take a big breath ready for a very long ‘knots’. Don’t rush this song, give it a lazy swing type tempo

 

A New Year Carol – very simple, just listen to each other

 

When a Child is Born – in the humming section, really build up to the last ‘Mmmm’ as we go into the key change and feel that energy from the piano part.

Altos and Tenors/bases don’t rush the echo,’ this come to pass’

 

In the Bleak Mid Winter – the ending on heart is very quiet and gentle with a soft ‘t’ at the end of heart.

 

Somewhere in My Memory – at the end, Sops sing ‘with me’; don’t come in too early with the ‘bom. Bom’, boms’

 

The Parting Glass – this is our brave end of concert song.  It is slow, unaccompanied and full of emotion.

We are very exposed with no piano, but we do have the talent and can pull this off if we all play our part and watch Elliot as much as possible who will guide us through the highs and lows of this beautiful song.

 

Audience participation songs – although there is less pressure to get everything right, we still need to be leading the singing and engaging with the audience so they can really feel a part of our concert.

 



We have worked so hard and it is only the little things we need to concentrate on now, but ironing out these mistakes will make a huge difference to our performance. 


From our past concerts, we have set the bar high, so practise, practise, practise for one more week.

 




If everyone is moving forward together, then success takes care of itself.








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 We only have one more rehearsal left before the week of the concert. Let's make it a good one!


We are now into fine tuning our songs to get concert perfect.

 

Act One, plus The Parting Glass, was combed through with a fine-tooth comb and we are in a very good place with them all.

It just highlighted some small general things we need to do:

 

Elongate the vowels in the words to give them energy and momentum

If words need to be a clipped sound, this will be directed accordingly

Ensure the entrance to your part is strong; confidently aim for that first note.

Watch Elliot for the tempo, getting louder and softer

Do not do your own thing and be indulgent holding on to notes longer than they should be.  Watch Elliot and finish exactly when he indicates.

Tell the story of each song and make the audience sit up and listen.

Listen to each other and know how your part fits into the whole.

 

Now in a little more detail:

The Parting Glass – it is critical to watch Elliot to get the timing and dynamics right. 

There is no accompaniment to hide behind.  We are very exposed, so please watch and obey the directions.

Be on the front foot for entrances, especially with the ‘Oh’ at the beginning of each verse.

Make it sound exciting as you start to tell the story.

When you decrescendo make getting quiet gradual and leave room to get even quieter. Be prepared to make it very quiet at the end.

Basses please learn your harmonies and not sing the tune all the way through.  Your harmonies help to give the song extra depth and loveliness.

On the line ‘ and all the sweethearts that e’er I’ve loved are sorry for my going away’ there is no gap; just sing it as one long phrase.

Extend the vowel on ‘Soooory, for my going away’.  Do not make it short and clipped.

 





Winter Winds – the good news we are more secure on the notes and harmonies. 

The not so good news is the entrances are poor. The timing is a one and a two and begin

Turn over your page while the piano is playing before the start of the solo/duet, so it isn’t a distraction from the lovely singing.

Make the ‘Happy’ in ‘you’ll be haaaaapy and wholesome again’ long vowels

The last ‘No’ can be more like a ‘Nah’ which is easier to sing and hold on to until told to stop.


The Rainbow Connection – at the end, there is no slowing down with ‘the lovers, the dreamers ….. and me’ There is just a small gap – keep the same tempo.

‘Some day we’ll find it’, keep ‘it’ soft and not sharp and give it a dreamy effect.

Be confident coming in on ‘all of us under its spell’.  It is on page turn, so be prepared and know it is coming.

‘I’ve heard it too many times’ is loud and then gradually gets quiet on ‘something that I’m s’posed to’ and then build up the volume again on ‘be’

The ‘Dum’ at the end is like a hum – no long vowels on this one!

 



Vincent – Do NOT sing ‘Ooohs’ the first time round!

This song is in good shape.  The Tenors did well to keep us going with the verses and the Sops and Altos are finding direction with their ‘Ooohs’.

The ‘Ooohs’ are challenging, especially for the Sop1s.  Smile and keep them bright and sustain them until the last ‘Oooh’ is sung.




 

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