Continuing our series introducing choral singers at Kent; this week, first-year soprano with Minerva Voices, Cecilian Choir and Chorus, reading Wildlife Conservation, Alice Baker.
How did you get into choral singing ?
When I was younger my parents took me to our local church (St. Matthew’s, Redhill) and I can remember always staring at the choir as they paraded through the church at the beginning of every service. By the time I was nine, I was already involved in choirs my primary school organised and was certain that I would be good enough for the church one! Thankfully, the Choir Master and Vicar agreed and in 2006 I joined their SATB choir as their youngest ever member. Very soon after this I went to my Secondary School and instantly joined their Yr.7 choir and progressed up the school, joining choirs wherever I could. Eventually I joined the school’s Senior Choir where I had some of my best singing experiences.
What’s your favourite piece ?
This is such a difficult question to answer! I have sung so many pieces in a variety of styles, both in choirs and as a solo performer, that choosing one is no easy task… I think my favourite choral piece has got to be ‘And The Glory Of The Lord’ from Handel’s Messiah because it is so much fun to listen to as well as sing, although it’s no easy task!
That being said, I do also love How Beautiful Upon The Mountains by John Stainer. This was a real favourite at my church and I love the joyful yet haunting qualities of it, created by the harmonies between all four voice parts and the delicate accompaniment.
What’s your best/worst memory about singing in a choir ?
My best memory is a bit of a tie… When I was presented with my Dean’s Bronze Award medal I had the honour of singing at St Paul’s Cathedral in London. It is an iconic building and singing in there was really special. My other best memory is being told that I had been chosen to sing the Once In Royal David’s City first verse solo for our church’s Nine Lessons and Carols service. This is one of the most popular services of the year and when I heard my voice ring out through the knave I think it was the first time I thought to myself: ‘Wow… That actually sounds pretty good’!
I’d like to think that I don’t have a worst memory but after some thought, a pretty nightmare-ish one came to mind. Our choir had organised a concert to raise money for a new set of robes and the day before the performance, I lost my voice. Every singers’ worst fear! (I think I am already gaining a reputation in Minerva Voices for losing the ability to talk every time I get even the slightest cold!) So I spent the day before the concert not making a sound, didn’t sing during the final rehearsal, and only practiced my solo once. When the performance arrived my silence had, thankfully, paid off and I was able to sing every piece to a decent standard. But I can honestly say I have never been so nervous for a solo before and probably won’t be again!
What do you find the most inspirational aspect of choral singing ?
I think the music itself is the key component to capturing and inspiring an audience. And I feel the only way to do this is if the music has already captured and inspired the choir who will be performing it. At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter whether the people watching came in liking that style of music, if the choir show they enjoy it and performed it well, then the audience should walk away with a new-found respect for whatever was presented. I think this inspires anyone watching and listening to keep an open mind, and it will help them seize opportunities to try new musical experiences in the future. This to me is a choir’s purpose, to bring music to the masses and show them something new and exciting.
Follow Alice on Twitter @AlViBa18