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Concerts & Events in 2018

Great Hucklow Singing Weekend, Fri 20th to Sun 22nd July 2018

On Friday evening we welcomed old and new friends, looking forward to the activities of the next two days. Dinner was as good as we remembered, and made all the more enjoyable this year because it was followed by a celebration of Dianne's birthday with a delicious cake baked by the chef. The evening was spent revisiting our repertoire spanning the years, which gave a pleasing balance of old and new songs, catering for everyone at some point in the course of the evening.

On Saturday morning we met our workshop leader, Val Regan - what a discovery! From the moment she addressed us, we knew we were in expert hands- her calm, humorous, and confident teaching style made for a dynamic enjoyable and very satisfying singing experience for us all. The songs Val chose looked very challenging, (one being in Mexican and the other with verses in English, Spanish, Arabic and an African dialect) but as soon as she started teaching us we learned very quickly and felt we were making a great sound. Her encouraging remarks made us feel super-confident. Over the two workshops Val interwove the learning of the two songs with fun rhythms and warmups. By Sunday lunchtime we could sing both songs and felt anything was possible. A huge thank you to Val - we must get her back to Stamford!!

Saturday afternoon was spent in a variety of ways: walking: site seeing: relaxing. By Saturday evening it was party time! An inexhaustible choice of music was made available courtesy of online music streaming and wireless speakers, to cater for everyone's requests. Even the most obscure was found! Norah offered tango and jive lessons which were enthusiastically taken up, whilst those of us not dancing certainly exercised our voices, accompanying all the golden oldies requests. Thank you to all those who entertained us!!

Buxton weekend Buxton weekend
Buxton weekend Buxton weekend
Val Regan leads the choir in a singing workshop.


Summer Concert at Bourne Baptist Church, Saturday 7th July 2018

Summer Concert

After months of hard work the choir assembled on Saturday July 7th at the Baptist Church, Bourne, ready to sing its heart out for the summer concert. In front of an audience of friends, families and church members, and under the directorship of Emmanuel, we gave what some said was ‘the best concert ever’!

Our programme of some 20 songs was a varied mix of Emmanuel’s own compositions (some in the Nigerian language), English folk songs, traditional gospel and world music, often incorporating haunting new harmonies by Emmanuel. Our sound was also at times given extra depth and authenticity by the addition of drumming by Elizabeth, Emmanuel’s wife.

According to some, what made the concert particularly special, was the joy of singing we conveyed to our audience with one person coming up and saying ‘I just wanted to get up and sing too!’. No doubt we have to thank Emmanuel for that, his choice of music for us, his infectious enthusiasm throughout the year and his constant encouragement during the performance.

The deafening applause, cheering and stomping as our last song ended left us in no doubt that an encore was called for. Another rendering of the gospel song ‘Oh Happy Day’ , accompanied by clapping from choir and audience, could genuinely be said to have raised the rafters!

While there is much sadness that Emmanuel has to move on, it was a wonderful and memorable evening to mark the end of his time with us.


Christmas Party, Saturday 13th January 2018

Ceilidh
Choir Christmas party 2018

On the 13th January about 35 people, choir members, family and friends, gathered to make merry at our annual Christmas party. Once again we had engaged the wonderful services of the band Ock ‘n’ Dough who hail from Northamptonshire and can claim to be the world’s only Anglo-Latvian Zydecajun Ceilidh Band ! As expected, we were treated to a wonderful evening of tunes which took us from far away Latvia to the bayous of the Deep South with some good old Celtic country dance music thrown into the mix. The irresistible rhythms ensured that the dance floor was nearly always full, with just a break for some very welcome supper in the middle of the evening - delicious fare provided by all who came. It was a fantastic evening out and a wonderful way to chase away any gathering winter blues on a cold January night!

Ceilidh Ceilidh
Ceilidh Ceilidh
The Choir and friends with Ceilidh Band Ock ‘n’ Dough


Wassailing at Stamford Community Orchard, Saturday 6th January 2018

Wassail
Wassail      Wassailing 6th January 2018      Wassail

The wassail event has been revived in Stamford because of the long association with apple growing in this area. On a chilly but dry winter’s evening, about 120 people of all ages gathered at the Stamford Community Orchard to perform this old medieval ritual and the choir was asked to take part. We readily took up this invitation as we like to seize opportunities to take part in community activities. There was much jollity and merriment as morris dancers danced, people banged on pots and pans and the choir performed several songs, while mulled cider was served to keep those cockles warmed. . all in the hope of bringing on a successful apple harvest this coming year ! As well as singing some old numbers, we revived a wassailing song especially for the occasion and led the crowd. We certainly sung our hearts out and have already been invited back for next year, so hopefully we made a worthwhile contribution to this community event.. and we won’t get blamed if the apple harvest is poor this year !




Concerts & Events in 2017

Christmas Concert at Stamford Arts Centre, Friday 8th December 2017

Xmas Concert


UK Choir Festival 2017 St Albans, 21st - 22nd October 2017

Report by Debbie Rimmer and Ivy Moore

StAlbans

A small but enthusiastic group of us attended the above event accompanied by our director Emmanuel. The Festival's aim is to bring together choirs from all over the UK in a pleasing setting where people can learn, thrive and develop through singing.

Day 1

The ten or so choirs, some from as far afield as Ireland, were treated to a busy, stimulating and challenging Saturday, involving a series of workshops before giving a performance. Always entertaining, the talented workshop leaders encouraged us to develop such skills as pitching correctly and listening to others around us to improve the blend and balance of the choir.

A vocal health session focussed our minds on what food and drink we should allow and refrain from in order to keep our voices in top condition. Some of us (myself included!) then had to eat our cheese sandwiches on the sly to avoid the accusing gaze of any passing leader !!!!

A highlight for me was the Gospel workshop, when the wonderful Karen Gibson taught us how to create a real gospel sound. As we learnt to sing a gospel song or two, Karen worked on our rhythm, tone, articulation, blend, energy and movement. Individual singers had the chance to come up do ‘the call’, including Emmanuel! Personally I think the amassed two hundred voices or so sounded amazing by the time Karen had finished with us. Inspiring and tremendous fun.

The final part of the day gave all the choirs a chance to perform something from their own repertoire. It was lovely to sit and listen to the great variety of songs being performed, some accompanied, some not. Outstanding in my view was the delightful Mundo Afrika choir from Formby High School who sung three African songs with fabulous energy and zest.
Check them out on YouTube ! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=95JTVtXiuE0
Woven Chords sang Akalamandla and, for all that we were a small group and lacking our men, our performance seemed well received.

Well done to our ladies who cheerfully took on the bass part and thanks to Emmanuel for rehearsing us, providing some extra bass and keeping us all together! We are awaiting some feedback from the professionals listening !

Day 2

The warm up from inspirational choir leader Ula Weber didn't really feel like one! which goes to show you can warm up the body and the voice while having fun and feeling a bit/ a bit more/ or very silly. I think this is a big draw for voice coaches choir leaders et al as they get satisfaction from seeing their pupils look totally daft but hey why not?

Following on from this there was a session entitled 'Conquering the mysteries of vocal technique' and the word 'classical' was used somewhere, and personally I thought 'oh no' but David Lowe was brilliant and one of the real highlights for me with his John Major, the local vicar, and tortoise impersonations.

He stressed that singing is a natural progression from breathing and we have all been doing it from birth so we are all really good at it! and just need a few techniques and pointers.

The importance of a good warm up and stretch to expand the chest 'north south east and west', exercises to loosen the jaw, a vocal chord warm up- they are muscles and need warming up too. And posture, avoid looking down the nose (vicar) holding the tongue too far back in the mouth (John Major) and extending the neck forward (tortoise). Think about breathing in as you sing-it prevents you from going flat and it really worked.

'Connect to effect' with Mark de Lisser some good points here but for me he concentrated on sad emotions and not the joyful, which left some people unable to sing. He pointed out that the best performances are not always the technically perfect, but the ones that have meaning for the choir and connect with the audience, 'connect with the truth' 'sing your truth' and 'sing from the heart'

'Leading by Ear' with Pete Churchill was a blast! He taught us a Duke Ellington song. You would have loved this Emanuel! He got us swaying to 6/8 timing, 'you are your own metronome', 'manufacture endings' such as t's and s's especially at the end of lines so you don't get the 'stutters',

The last session was from Ula Weber - 'Don't be afraid of Polish' frankly I was a bit smug because Polish holds no fears for Wovies! it was joyful and we waltzed in the aisles, it was great seeing nearly everyone else glued to their song sheets while ours were not needed! We didn't stay to hear the choirs sing as on the first day I'm sure they would have been great, learned a lot, but not least that I wholeheartedly love singing a cappella and world music songs and with a great bunch!



Concerts & Events in 2016

Friday 16th December 2016

Christmas Concert at Stamford Arts Centre

Xmas Concert


Stamford Arts Centre hosted the latest festive celebration from Woven Chords, the local natural voice choir who have gathered a loyal following and a strong reputation for close, tight harmony work.

This was Abi Moore's last concert as choir leader and her work with the choir has seen them move from strength to strength. Friday night's concert was another example of the professionalism and sense of real enjoyment that she has fostered within the group and how this is transmitted to the audience.

A full house showed its appreciation as the choir performed Basque and Catalan Christmas songs, as well as Swedish, Polish and Ukranian carols, all sung in the original language, as were the Italian protest song and the Hawaiian Earth blessing. Alongside the seasonal songs were others from their extensive repertoire, including Barbara Ann and Blowin' in the Wind.

All songs were sung unaccompanied and great credit goes to all concerned for the mastery of the material displayed and the light and shade created during the performance.

The audience were left feeling that Christmas was now upon us and the Woven Chords Annual concert is now the unofficial launch of the festive season for many people in Stamford and the surrounding area.



Friday 26th August 2016

Paul and Phillippa’s wedding

Report by Carol Scrimshaw
The choir members were delighted when two of their number, Paul and Phillippa, asked whether we would sing at their wedding reception at The Crown Hotel in Stamford, following a marriage ceremony at Stamford Register Office. They both joined the choir after attending a singing workshop at Stamford Arts Centre in summer 2014. They had never sung before and found it a bit daunting at first but nevertheless had a great time. It was at this workshop that they met Liz Underhill, who was at the time the Musical Director of Woven Chords, and a few more members of the choir, all of whom they found friendly and welcoming, and they decided to join the choir in the following term in September 2014.

Paul and Phillippa’s debut performance with Woven Chords was in the Christmas concert at Thurlby Church in December 2014. They felt quite nervous but had done a lot of practicing and said there was a wonderful atmosphere at the concert – the rest of the choir were very supportive and the audience was appreciative. When they arranged their wedding, they asked the choir to sing as they felt that they were their new friends and they wanted their family and older friends to share something that was very much about their lives in Stamford and experience some of the choir’s great singing.

The songs which Paul and Phillippa chose from the choir’s repertoire included: Happy Together (which they are!); Wild Mountain Thyme (a favourite of Phillippa, her sister and her mum, who sadly passed away a couple of years ago); Fa’fetai (a beautiful song which Abi, our current Musical Director, has enhanced and improved so that it sounds even sweeter than ever); and One Day Like This (a song from the early days of their relationship which they love and has many happy memories attached to it – and which featured Abi singing the verses and accompanying herself on guitar). Paul also sings with a male folk group, Millstone Grit, and joined some of his co-members for a rousing folk number.

Naturally, not all choir members were available on the August date, but a large contingent of 28 arrived at All Saints Church for a rehearsal (much to the surprise and entertainment of the people who were enjoying their coffee there that morning). Despite there being an initial imbalance with only 4 altos and 11 sopranos, luckily a few more altos arrived to swell their section and we all felt more confident by the time we moved across the road to perform at The Crown. For choir members, it was a joyous occasion and we were delighted to have been asked to share in Paul and Phillippa’s special day – Phillippa showing her allegiance to the choir by wearing a lovely turquoise gown.

wedding
wedding
Paul and Phillippa together with members of Woven Chords


Friday 22nd - Sunday 24th July 2016

Woven Chords Residential Weekend

Report by Brenda Smith
For the second year running members of Woven Chords took to the hills of Derbyshire for a weekend of singing and great merriment. The Nightingale Centre in Great Hucklow near Buxton played host to 35 members of the Woven Chords choir, who wasted no time in getting down to some serious eating, drinking and bonding!

The main focus for the weekend was the singing and we were led by Beth de Lange, an accomplished world music practitioner, who introduced us to some challenging Georgian songs on Saturday morning and uplifting African material on Sunday. On Saturday afternoon we were free to enjoy the great outdoors, some striding out into the hills to explore the village of Eyam, others enjoyed a nearby well-dressing celebration, while others stayed at the centre to enjoy the peace and quiet of the grounds......and, of course, in the evening there was some more singing, of the home grown variety, a trip through the Woven Chords catalogue of favourites and some well known folk songs thrown in for good measure!

This was a thoroughly enjoyable weekend which hopefully will be repeated next year....the date has been booked provisionally with the Nightingale Centre and will be confirmed to choir members in the near future.

Residential weekend
African workshop with Beth de Lange
Residential weekend
Concentrating hard
Residential weekend Residential weekend Residential weekend
Out walking in the hills
Residential weekend Residential weekend
Well dressing at Stoney Middleton


Friday 24th - Sunday 26th June 2016

Street Choirs Festival 2016

Report by Ivy Moore
About a dozen members of Woven Chords attended the Street Choirs Festival over the weekend of 24-26 June 2016, hosted this year by Red Leicester Choir in that wonderful city. The Street Choirs Festival has been going for about two decades now and I can see why: the whole festival was a joy, wonderfully organised by Red Leicester and the whole thing ran like clockwork.

The festival ‘kicked off’ (hey, Leicester did win the premiership!) on Friday evening with professional entertainment and a party to follow at the Curve Theatre and included comedy, dance, and drumming.

Saturday saw us back at the Curve to rehearse several songs which we then sang at the ‘Mass Sing’ at Jubilee Square and the rain held off! Following this we had three busking sessions around the city centre, where we teamed up with Raised in Song and Syncapella (Abi’s other choirs). We sang four songs in these slots but you know what singers are like - we could have sung forty!

The evening was spent back at the Curve listening to a fabulous selection of choirs from all over the UK, ranging from Brighton to Edinburgh and Cardiff. It was great to experience the different approaches, styles (and outfits!) to a capella singing. It was great to sing in such a wonderful theatre and to such an appreciative audience.

Some of us stayed overnight, and on Sunday had the opportunity to join some workshops at De Montfort University. These included belly dancing, drumming, and singing workshops from leaders such as Chris Samuels and Faith Watson. We all came out singing and dancing.

We enjoyed the whole of the above at a ridiculously small fee (not including our own hotel and food and the odd glass of lemonade of course).

Next year’s festival will take place in Kendal and I certainly want to be there.

Street Fest Street Fest
Abi leads the combined choirs in Leicester city centre

Friday 10th June 2016

Summer Concert at All Saints Church in Stamford

Summer Concert


Report by Debbie Rimmer
Our summer concert took place this year at the beautiful All Saints church in Red Lion Square, right in the centre of Stamford. This was a new venue for us and it was declared a successful choice. (Thanks to Julie, Brenda and Abi for spending time visiting and checking out this option earlier in the summer.) We were lent some excellent staging by All Saints and church members were really helpful in terms of helping us to set up and take down at the end.

Our two sets for the concert this year consisted of a wide range of a capella songs from traditions as varied as English and Scottish Folk, African and European numbers. The harmonies resonated beautifully in the church and, judging by the warm applause from our audience, the concert was much appreciated. Indeed, one person was overheard to say that they felt tears flowing as we sang ‘ Wild Mountain Thyme’! Another person commented that they had already put our Christmas Concert date into their diary as they wouldn't miss it for the world!

There was torrential rain on the evening of the concert and we had worried about numbers attending; however, we need not have done so as the church appeared full! Refreshments in the interval and a raffle to raise funds for the choir added to a really good atmosphere and overall we felt very pleased with the way the event went. An additional bonus was that we were able to donate £140 to the Music Fund at All Saints church.

We owe many thanks to our leader, Abi, for her patience and professionalism in rehearsing us over the preceding months and helping us to achieve such a well-received concert performance.

Saturday 9th January 2016

Wassailing at Stamford Community Orchard

Wassail Poster

Booking the choir

We are always looking for performance opportunities (the more unusual the better!). We have already performed in a prison, and done our first wedding. For more information check out the Booking the Choir page.