The Journey is the Reward ( Taoist saying).
Nobody said that the road to the Royal Albert Hall and the Festival of Welsh Male Voice Choirs would be easy. No getting away from it, the challenge ahead for this choir in preparing for the event next May is one of the biggest in its history.
Learning new songs with sophisticated arrangements, especially when many of them are in Welsh is not easy. So far (and we started on this journey back before the summer break last year) it has been hard work and, at times, very frustrating. And still a long way to go!
But hard work can be fun and an evening with the maestro himself Alwyn Humphreys, was always going to be special. Alwyn is a Musical Director’s Musical Director. There was Meryl scribbling away in the corner of the room and making sure she didn’t miss anything. There was Ian Watts (MD of Carlton MVC) screaming from the far reaches of Facebook, “Lucky gits!”
And our own Deputy MD Ian Grice was able to express the sentiments of many, “It was an amazing rehearsal last night with Alwyn covering the progress of songs for the Albert Hall 2018 concert. Well done to all choristers for maximum effort and listening to instruction and direction for the songs. It was a masterclass!”
A masterclass indeed for all choristers. It was “enjoyment” and “proper entertainment” in the words of some.
Alwyn is a very funny guy. Addressing the baritones he reminded them that it would be quite easy to replace the whole lot of them, if necessary, by bringing in random blokes in of the street. The baritones had reality rubbed in further by Alwyn’s next comments about the first tenors (“like gold”) and second tenors (“platinum!”).
The maestro didn’t replace the baritones, though, but very gently and firmly led them down the road to a greater awareness of singing together, using their ears more and producing a better sound. Baritone Joe Higgins appreciated Alwyn’s approach. “I’ve not had as much fun in a long time. Equal parts singing lesson, choir practice and comedy gig. What a guy!”
The greatest lesson for me from Alwyn’s visit was the confidence he gave us that we can indeed rise to the occasion. Although he didn’t say it in as many words, he gave us the belief that we can push out the boundaries and get better. And that we can have some fun in the process.
These songs will, I’m sure, become part of the repertoire which will help us, hopefully, to attract new audiences and increase the enjoyment for our faithful followers in performing some new material.
So thanks to Alwyn- we look forward to seeing you again in October. And thanks to everyone who have embarked on this journey especially Meryl, Margaret and Ian, our fantastic music team, because without them we wouldn’t have got this far.
Onwards and upwards and let’s enjoy it!