The world is trying to wake up again and one of the local rituals is happening today on SATURDAY 14th January 2023.
This is possibly of anyone visiting the Stoke-on-Trent area later today. The Penkhull Wassail is fast approaching, and Domesday Morris look forward to seeing all friends both old and new! Starting at 4.30pm at the Village Hall in Penkhull, there will be the usual torch lit procession, blessing of fruit trees, wassail readings, music, song and of course Morris dance this year on the Church Green in the very heart of the village. Please feel free to bring lanterns. From the Church Green the procession will then make their way around the village from hostelry to village hostelry for a traditional old twelfth night evening of misrule. The wonderful Penkhull Brass will be there and guests Leek Morris and hopefully Greg and Kate with the Clay Chorus choir. There is a TICKET ONLY CEILIDH in the Village Hall from 8pm
Christmas Carols tonight, a rehersal for a few little perforover the weekend and on Monday. We will be visiting the local hostelries to sample their brews and encouraging the regulars to join in with us! Part of the reportoir include :Gaudete, Jingle Bells, Good King Wenceslas, While Shepherds watched their flocks (Cranbrook version), which is to the tune of on Ilkley Moor Bah’tat. (I think there are videos on YouTube). Its a lovely way to celebrate the season. We usually sing as Clay Chorus but at this time of year we come together with other singers as the ‘Mystery Singers’.
We finally sang as a choir tonight. We were socially distanced. Each of us had a chair placed behind a CD. Two meters apart. We did some stretches and vocal exercises and suddenly we were singing together in reasonable harmony. We even sang in parts, soprano, tenor, alto and base. It was lovely! No zoom where all you can hear is yourself and the choir leaders. We started quietly but by the end we had some volume. Hearing each other gets the camaraderie going again.n
Next stop, singing in public at a canal day this coming Sunday. I hope we all stay well and the weather improves!
Mark who was part of this evenings Clay Chorus group. He played two brilliant songs. I used a bit of monoprint to add shadows to the side of his face. I only used a bit as he was moving and playing his guitar as I was trying to sketch him.
I wish I had his skill and had carried on learning an instrument, it’s great to be able to play things, but my trumpet is staying firmly locked away!
Tonight we were singing sea shanties and other songs, led by Greg and Kate from the Boatband. Our choir is called Clay Chorus, and every week I spend a little time sketching what’s happening. It can be an object in the room or an image on the screen. I really enjoy doing them….
We went out and sang upon our local church green tonight. All of us in masks. We each had a space marked with a CD on the ground. We sang four songs, Good King Wensceslas, Ye Shepherds arise, While Shepherds watched their flocks by night (Cranbrook version) and the St Day Carol (now the Holly bears the Berry…).
There were about seventeen of us getting very wet, but it was great to sing in harmony with people. We didn’t have an audience. But it was great fun.
Look up Penkhull Mystery singers on YouTube if you want to see us in full voice in previous years.
Tonight was the first time our choir sang (sort of) together…
But of course its not that easy. When you sing with someone else there is a time delay. It’s not possible to sing in time. It’s fine when you are talking but even a slight delay in sound makes everything very strange. Tonight our hosts were a couple who teach us up at the village hall on a Monday.
So we were muted whilst singing, listening along to the hosts and singing our parts. Then unmuted to chat afterwards. And yes we used the now ubiquitous Zoom, but that’s OK.
Then of us got to see each other fit the first time in months, even though it was only cyberspace. Now for a brew.
I went to something called the big sing, organised by a group called appetite this afternoon.
Four choirs including Clay Chorus, Loud Mouth Women, Staffordshire Community choir and Village voices for lung health gathered together alongside members of the public to learn two songs together and also sing from their own repertoire. There were about 110 people singing in the Regent theatre who had allowed us to use the venue for the event.
After two hours learning the songs together we sang our own songs. Then we came together to sing two final songs. There were about 70 people massed together to sing them. We made a big noise in Piccadilly, Hanley. The atmosphere was great. I was so happy to be part of it. I even managed a quick sketch of the Staffordshire community choir while we waited to go on.
Where would the mystery play be without the music. This year as always provided by the brilliant Boatband and Clay Chorus choir.
I don’t want to give away the music or plot too much. But the singing covers dramatic action in the play. I know Clay have been learning the songs for a couple of months now and there are some poignant pieces to illustrate the conditions in the first half of the nineteenth century. We don’t realise just how much things have improved for both adults and children.
I think the audience are in for a treat this year if we all keep our cool and get it right.
I’ve been out all day singing at workshops with various tutors. Then in the evening 16 choirs were involved in a concert to raise money for three charities.
The day started early at a local theatre, groups went off to various changing rooms, bars and the auditorium to learn new songs and vocal techniques. In the same way as artists have different styles so do musicians. The first workshop I attended was called “joy” and it was joyful and bonkers. Fast cheery tunes and ” jazz hands”, it woke us up and some of us even threatened to join the teachers choir. The second workshop I went to was called “raise your voice” and helped us to harmonise and listen to each other while we learnt two folk songs.
In the afternoon around 400 of us.. Yes that many, learned a new song written specially for the day. Based on “let your little light shine” the lyrics were written by a local poet and music by a local musician. The result was filmed this evening when we sang it at the end of the concert.
It should be going on YouTube.
Each choir also sang one or two songs. Some of the singers were in 3 and even 4 of the choirs so they were busy.
We had a satisfying day and I think everyone should be proud of what they did.