Archives 2016

We moved house, went to Leicester and Llangollen, and Iceland came to us …………

We moved from Union Chapel to Didsbury Baptist Church in January 2016.

Here Margaret Seaby, a founder member of the choir on happy times at Union Chapel

It was sixteen years ago that I nervously stepped through the doors of Union Chapel for the first rehearsal of Manchester Community Choir.  That was a life changing experience! The songs were wonderful to learn, everyone was so friendly and encouraging.

The space at Union Chapel was good to use and Margaret, Eileen and Michael and the rest of the team there have been very helpful in accommodating our rehearsal needs over the years.

So it is with a tear in my eye that I say goodbye to Union Chapel, but take away such happy memories of singing there.

Now the choir has grown bigger, and we moved in January 2016 to a larger rehearsal space at Didsbury Baptist Church.

Margaret Seaby, founder member

Singing with Kór Reyðarfjarðarkirkju from Iceland!

Learning two new songs, one in Icelandic (or was it just dee-dom-dee-ic?), practising them with the Icelandic Choir – Kór Reyðarfjarðarkirkju – and then performing them together in front of a sellout audience in Didsbury Baptist Church was some challenge, much delight and above all, great fun.

This was all part of our contribution to a benefit concert for Shelter – sadly still needed more than ever after all these years. Kór Rey performed first and  they delivered a rich and full sound. Hearing Let it Be sung in Icelandic was a real treat. For the final two numbers of their set we joined them on stage. It was stunning to sing with them in this way and the audience seemed to feel the same. Then we did our set with great gusto including our alarming ghost song As she moved before being joined by Kór Rey for a powerful Scandinavian Kom! (video here) followed by Siyahamba a rousing South African song (video here).

When the concert was over we just could not stop singing. In the Fletcher Moss pub afterwards we seemed to repeat the concert with even more enthusiasm and possibly a few more ‘mistakes’: that’s the picture above. It was all surprisingly well received by the bar staff and pub regulars – we have the landlord’s (Martin) word on this (!) and with a fair few I-phone videos occurring. There was talk of us visiting Iceland – watch this space!

Llangollen International Eisteddfod

“We are living under the same sun and we are one!”

Bore da (Good morning).

Would a Welsh crowd, so captivated by the recent performance of its football team, have room in its heart to welcome a choir from Manchester England at its Eisteddfod in Llangollen, a key part of Welsh culture? And for some reason, I felt more nervous than usual – well it was a big event after all. However, after a brief warm up in the glorious St Collen’s Church suddenly it seemed we were there on the Royal Mail Stage in front of a pretty full audience, with few familiar friends and family faces. But I kept my focus on Liz our conductor and was soon in the moment and singing. We did sound good and it was an appreciative audience and suddenly all my doubts disappeared. Liz, as ever, managed not only to get each of us to sing beyond our usual capacity but facilitated the choir as a whole to be greater than the sum of its parts. Tudor not only played a key role in organising our visit to the Eisteddfod but he also fluently translated Liz’s words to into Welsh twice to great applause!

There were choirs and dancers from many parts of the world there – Lithuania, New Zealand, Philippines, Estonia, USA etc to sing, listen and mingle. Suddenly our choir’s repertoire of songs from all over the world made a lot of sense. And in the afternoon, when we did two busking sessions which were great fun, some of our audience joined in singing along with us including a few native to Swahili and Hawaiian! Our Welsh hosts showed us that you can both honour your own culture and welcome and joyously engage with other cultures which I guess it was the International Eisteddfod is all about.

Hwyl fawr (Goodbye)

William West

Singing for Freedom from Torture

Many cultures have some kind of feast around the shortest day of the year. It is usually a time of winter cold and darkness. At such festivities it can seem natural to focus on human suffering, on people being excluded or worst still tortured. Rather than deflate our spirits, as the focus of the concert at St Werburgh’s in Manchester on Friday 2 December 2016 was Freedom from Torture, we raised our spirits in defiance. One of the songs we sing, Come the Time, is all about laying down arms and being free of credal and racial differences and in another from South Africa – Siyahamba – we sing about ‘marching to where freedom begins’.

But it was not all serious stuff! The sheer exuberance of the Finnish reindeer song Oley Leyloyla with random whoops from members of the choir was a true delight. (That’s us in the video below singing it in Manchester Central Library in 2014!) The event was blessed by a full audience who enjoyed our songs.

The concert raised £834 for the charity Freedom from Torture’s work with survivors of torture who live here in the North West. The Bernstein Quartet, The Schubert Trio, Paul Twine, Manchester College Choir and MCC (that’s us) provided just what it had said on the tin – an evening of classical music, blues, show tunes and world music, plus a few Xmas tunes for good measure.

Blog by William West

Central Library Winter Extravaganza

Who’ll be the lady who’ll be the lord / When we are ruled by the love of one another?

As a regular library user I was delighted to once more be singing with the Choir in Manchester Central Library. It is a stunning and circular 1930s building which is well worth a visit in its own right. And there was a resonance between what public libraries are for; the words of many of our songs with their focus on love, freedom and equality and the best of the spirit of the festive season.

The choir had had as ever both an extra rehearsal on Thursday and a warm up rehearsal prior to our Saturday morning performance. These rehearsals enabled Liz, our choir director, to help us raise our game both technically so that we sounded even better(!) but also, equally important, to be even more whole-hearted in our performance.

And so it proved. We sang a delightful set of both festive songs such as Ring it in, Tar Barrel, Oley Ley Loyla, Past Three A’ Clock and some old favourites expressing the spirit of our choir – Sing John Ball, Saltwater, Ipharadisi and Siyahamba. Our songs were well received and mince pies followed.

Blog by William West