East Surrey Choral Society

ALTERNATIVE VIEWS

This poem, written by one of our members (a bass), should illustrate the 'fun' we have during rehearsals.

The Musical Director faces quite a simple task:
To get a choir to sing – that surely isn’t much to ask!
In rehearsals all he has to do is walk around and shout,
And in concerts merely stand in front and wave his arms about.

Despite these perks the fellow can get noticeably stroppy,
Just because he spots the odd face buried in a copy.
The poor old chap shows all the signs of clinical depression.
He bellows, “Never mind the notes! Please give me some expression!”

So we singers try to help him – give him everything we’ve got –
Which, admittedly, it must be said, is, frankly, not a lot.
We take a breath and hope the sound that issues from our throat
Is something fairly well in time, and somewhere near the note.

But, by the concert, everything’s been carefully refined,
Each subtlety of emphasis been duly underlined.
We build up the crescendo to that wondrous final chord
Whose magical precision makes the audience applaud,
And we all get there together, though God knows how we do –
Sopranos, altos, tenors – and the basses get there too –
Just half a bar behind.

© Barry Weedon 2010

 

Here is a view from the other side of the podium:

A CHORAL SOCIETY ODE

If you give me your attention, I will tell you what I am,
I’m a MUSICAL DIRECTOR and I’m no artistic sham,
Each little fault of tuning and each musical defect
In my erring choral singers I endeavour to correct
To all their little weaknesses I open singers eyes
And little plans to snub the self-important I devise,
I love my choral singers, I do all the good I can,
Yet everybody says I’m such a disagreeable man,
And I can’t think why!

To compliments inflated I’ve a withering reply
And vanity I always do my best to mortify
A charitable comment I can easily dissect
And excuses – how pathetic – I’m delighted to detect
I know every singer’s voice, I sense their character and nerve
And so, with no apology, they get what they deserve,
I love my choral singers, I encourage all I can,
Yet everybody says I’m such a disagreeable man
And I can’t think why!
 
Those fellows in the basses are so vital to a choir,
The harmony they underpin – if not, the tuning’s dire,
They need to sing with confidence, with rhythm and in time
And showing us the meaning in their eyes would be sublime!
Yet every week rehearsals risk an element of strife
I look along the basses – they’re a picture of still life!
I love my choral basses and I help them all I can
Yet every bass will tell you I’m a disagreeable man,
And I can’t think why!

The tenors are quite diff-er-ent – they’re usu’lly awake
Instruction from the maestro they will gen-er-ally take
And yet they sing so gently that I think in some respects
Having Olwen there and Mel too they’ve now joined the fairer sex!
But tuning and attention are invariably good,
They’re happy, warm and welcoming, my words are understood,
Yet watching how their mouths work, well it really does amaze
You’ll see a lot of goldfishing, like watching cows that graze,
And I can’t think why!

And what about the ladies? (Just how honest can I be?)
I know that they’ll expect from me some crushing repartee
The altos sing so sweetly and with decibels restrained
I’d love more volume from them, till their energy’s quite drained
But still I mustn’t grumble, they are usu’lly on the ball,
Except those who refuse to look – no eye contact at all!
I love you, dearest altos, both the old and very young
And trouble-makers too – specific names will not be sung –
But I can’t think why!

Sopranos sang out loudly at the recent carol show,
I hope you felt the difference, you all gave it a go,
And so when after Christmas we begin to sing Baroque,
I trust you will continue then to make the rafters rock,
I know you all enjoy the feel of singing in a choir
You all have got commitment, sense of humour, and desire
Yet in some previous concerts, well, you’ve sometimes lacked the steel
The confidence and courage needed…all of us must feel
And I can’t think why!

And now I turn my thoughts to one who helps us week by week
A man who contributes so much to make the music speak
For consci-en-tious ap-pli-ca-tion I can find no nig-gle
But it really does concern me when RP begins to giggle,
I can feel the piano shaking with increasing seismic force
And I really am concerned that man and trousers will divorce
But Richard does a great job and his standards too are high
He worries far too much of course and strangely, he’s quite shy
And I can’t think why!

I suppose I ought to finish with a per-son-al critique
Though that might be rather risky, self-indulgent so to speak,
For after all, perfection is attained by very few
And how fortunate you are – That perfect maestro’s known to you!!....
…..(pause….and momentary change of character)
But honestly, this little song is only meant in jest,
I’ve always tried to work the choir t’achieve the very best
And seriously, I love you all, I do all the good I can,
Yet basses still insist, I’m such a disagreeable man
And I can’t think why!....I can’t think why!

© Ian Kennedy 2013

 

There is a person we must applaud,
Someone who is known to us all.
"Patience" is a virtue they possess
And it's shown each time we rehearse.
"Heads up and out of books.
I don't require any vague looks.
Your voices will ride above the pages,
It's surprising how sound has its ranges.
Volume and accuracy are what's required
So we can all unite as a choir."
We have our "ups and downs"
Depending in which building we rehearse,
All are different and diverse.
We try our best each time we meet
To keep in time and on our feet.
Thank you Ian for all that you do.
We try our best to carry through
All the "do's" and "don'ts" that seem to bubble
And cause us all some trouble.
Many thanks from us all.
Your Choir.

© Margaret Dale 2016

 

CHORISTERS' CONFESSION

Almighty and most merciful Choirmaster,
We have erred and strayed from thy beat like lost sheep.
We have followed too much the intonation and tempi of our own hearts.
We have offended against thy dynamic markings,
We have left unsung the notes we ought to have sung,
And we have sung the notes we ought not to have sung,
And there is no breath in us.
But thou, O Choirmaster, have mercy on us, miserable singers,
Succour the chorally challenged,
Restore them that need extra note bashing,
Spare thou them without pencils.
Pardon our mistakes,
And have faith that we will follow thy directions,
And sing together in perfect harmony.

Amen.

[from the choir vestry in Lichfield Cathedral]

 

Ian Kennedy GGSM

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