Fourth-year Drama student Dave Newell reports from the bass section.
2pm, Saturday 16th October 2010. A lecture theatre on The University of Kent Campus turns twenty six students mad, as they are heard to be singing “I’m a train!”.
One of the big problems with university choirs is the ever-changing membership; student lives usually last at the most four years, after which people graduate and thus void their entry requirements to join student choirs. From a chorister’s point of view, this means that friendships between choir members are often short-lived, and at only two-hour rehearsal a week (squeezed into the busy schedule of not doing much and sitting…;-)) can take some time to begin. This however is not the case at The University of Kent Chamber Choir.
King's man: Alastair Hume
Early in October every year the choir welcomes Alastair Hume, ex-King’s Singer counter-tenor, for a fun-filled day of singing. It was this day, in my first year, when I really began to feel a part of the choir, and four years on, things have changed little. The first few rehearsals are, as I am sure Dan (our director) will corroborate, some of the most important of the whole year, not only because it is crucial to get off to a flying start on learning the repertoire, but also because the choir must feel like a choir to sing like one, to sit together and blend, rather than sounding like a lot of people singing.
Alastair’s day certainly fulfils both of these criteria. This year we focussed on three pieces: Hark, All ye lovely Saints Above by Weelkes, Gibbons’ O Clap your Hands and I’m a Train originally by Albert Hammond, but later covered by Al’s own King’s Singers, and it was the latter we practised. These were interspersed with much laughter and banter and it must be said that the pieces were sung with… let’s say varying levels of success, but all were thoroughly enjoyed. The Weelkes is one which is to go into the choir’s line-up for a concert in the crypt of Canterbury Cathedral in February, and “I’m a Train” is to be performed in November as part of a Kent Music Society showcase.
This is all well and good, but the true success of the day is surely bringing the choir together. In the middle of the day we have a picnic, organised this year by Nicola Ingram, which adds to the charm of the day, gets the choir used to each other and used to singing together.
This being my last year I would like to extend my personal thanks to Alastair, whose workshops are great fun. I will never forget Seaside Rendezvous, The Humpty Dumpty Jazz or your startling array of pretty stonking trousers.
David Newell, 1st Bass, University of Kent Chamber Choir 2007-2011.