It was a partnership, two parties cooperating and giving something to each other through music.
On Wednesday May 21st, after school, twenty or so choir members arrived in dribs and drabs to be electronically signed in at reception by their chairman, Adam Brown. There were several spelling mistakes, not by Adam.
We were greeted by Mrs Tracey, choir mistress, who explained how the action-packed session would go.
The juniors, some really small, began with Music Memories illustrated by elegant choreography. Then You Raise Me Up complete with signing for the hearing impaired.
The men did their set unaccompanied. First Let it be me, the most popular version of which was released in 1960 by The Everly Brothers. Second African Trilogy which was a tad rusty it has to be said. Two traditional Zulu melodies are combined with the South African national anthem. The first song, Siyahamba, is now well-known as the hymn ‘We are marching in the light of God’. The second item, Shosholoza, is a road gang work song. The trilogy concludes with the anthem Nkosi Sikelel'i Afrika, sung in English. We were due to do it again as a joint item, but the two very different versions couldn’t sing to each other.
Drumming was next and each choir member received an instrument. ‘Quieten down children,’ did not always apply to the children. There were three drumming sections, in a round, alternating with singing. The children then sang their favourite song about Mr Miller and his band. Some great trombones and saxophones. The choir is usually unable to perform with added movement or action, but the men gladly joined in, some better than others.
You raise me up came again, this time with a tutorial for the men on signing by Mrs Thomas. Again we had no option but to multitask and sing and sign together. It was hard. Confusingly, whilst the actions and sounds are performed at the same time, signing and singing don’t necessarily use the same words. Recorded by more than one hundred artists, You Raise Me Up was originally composed by the duo, Secret Garden. In 2005, it was popularised in the UK by Westlife. Today, it is also a church hymn.
The men finished with Let there be Peace on Earth.
The partnership was between children, starting out on life’s journey, and men in their fifties and sixties with something left in the tank. The children, and the teachers, received somewhere that deep soulful sound that men can make together. The men, uncoordinated granddads, smiled a lot. It was fun, and moving.