When the good people of Wild Skies film festival in Hexham got in touch with Tynedale Community Choir to ask if we’d like to sing before a film screening I’m not sure they were expecting such enthusiasm! We all agreed upon O Brother Where Art Thou, the film that catapulted a number of amazing American music stars into the main stream.
This has been somewhat out of my comfort zone, I’ve had to listen to the sound track on repeat to pick up the right chords and harmonies… it has also been GREAT fun!
So on Sunday 19th July, Tynedale Community Choir took to the stage of Queens Hall in Hexham. We were lucky enough to be joined by the wonderful Hexham Bluegrass (a group of like minded bluegrass loving musicians who meet weekly at Core Music in Hexham) who provided accompaniment for the ones that really needed accompaniment. And there we sang our hearts out… Angel Band, Down in the River to Pray, Man of Constant Sorrow, Go To Sleep My Little Baby… and more. What a challenge for the choir to really sing these songs well, not as a choir, not as a caricature, but sing them well as themselves. Some members were very nervous because I had purposefully left the arrangements fluid, I’d left the rehearsals right on the edge… not under rehearsed, not ever rehearsed but juuuuust ready to sing out. That’s scary for a choir who are used to knowing what to do exactly when… but they were fantastic and it goes to show what can happen with a little trust! They sort of trusted me (many would have liked it to have felt more polished!) but I trusted them, and I guess I trusted myself a little bit too.
The following Saturday I was standing in the sunshine in Hexham waiting for the hall to be opened for a workshop when two people randomly stopped on the street and said they had been at the performance and thought we’d been brilliant. WHAT VALIDATION! such praise! I made sure to tell the choir, it’s wonderful for anyone to tell you that your choir sound good but to stop and do that a week after you’ve seen them is brilliant.
We’re continuing with some of the O Brother repertoire for a performance in Allendale with Windborne on July 23rd. We’re also polishing up the favourites from the rest of the year. It’s important that we continue learning new things but it’s also vital that we build up a core repertoire of fun, interesting, good to sing songs that we can sing at any point. Hopefully the O Brother material will add to that repertoire!