Tag Archives: Singing

There’s Been A Change Of Plan

17 Apr

Alexander Cosgriff (Alec Iconoclast) in The Iconoclasts, by Dear Hunter Theatre (Sheffield), at NSDF 2017.

So, there we were, all set for his radio debut, and what happens?  Alex comes back from the National Student Drama Festival with a horrendous chest infection and no voice.

He arrived home on Saturday and immediately set to with hot toddies of honey, lemon & ginger; Vicks in a bowl of hot water; a good night’s sleep; no dairy or caffeine – all of the usual remedies.  He went off to rehearsal in Sheffield yesterday with high hopes of a miracle occurring in the hour it took to get from home to hall.  His people dosed him up with more of the same; he opened his mouth to sing…and out popped a box of frogs.

The interview and live singing (by Debra Finch) is still going to happen today, 17h50 GMT on BBC Radio 3, but without Alex. 

Sad faces all round.

Alex is tucked up in bed here at home, disappointed but stoic.  As his mother, I’m less stoic and more gutted to my very core, but I’m a tad more dramatic than he is.

He had a great time at NSDF, at least.  Silver linings and all that.

The show he was in (The Iconoclasts, from Dear Hunter Theatre) is available to watch in its preview form.  It was recorded last year but has changed quite substantially since then.  His big number has remained, however; you can find it at 48 minutes:

In Which I Attempt To Smooth Over My Long Absence By Offering You Some Old-Fashioned Entertainment

22 Sep

Hey sweeties, how are you all?

Apologies for how long it’s been since I last posted.  In my defence, 2016 has been the busiest year of my life, one way or another.  I took a couple of weeks off in August to recharge my batteries but hectic life started up again in September.

Some highlights: as a volunteer, I now run a monthly creative writing workshop at a mental health charity here in Stockport.  I have also delivered other workshops elsewhere, including at the school where I’m a governor.  I’ve given a number of poetry readings.  I finished the holiday club script and dived straight back into editing my second poetry collection.  I have been up and down the country by train for various reasons, most of which – but not all – involved watching Alex perform in one thing or another.  We’ve had both boys home, together and separately.  And I joined a community choir (because I obviously don’t have enough to do).

I love to sing.  I have a pleasant voice; not great.  Naturally, if I’d had training, I’d be a massive superstar a la Kylie Minogue (same height) or Susan Boyle (same great looks), but instead, thanks to my parents’ complete lack of foresight, I’ve had to settle for a wobbly command of mid-range notes, sung in the my-dog’s-embarrassing-howl style.  Nevertheless, I love being part of a choir.

I especially loved it last Saturday, when the choir held its fifth anniversary concert, singing a collection of music down the centuries, from Mozart and madrigals to the Beatles, Coldplay and Adele (what is wrong with that woman?  Someone Like You…total stalker anthem).

Here’s my problem: I’m easily distracted.  If I sit in the middle of the Altos, I can sing the alto line-tune-harmony-whatever.  Place me anywhere near the Baritones or Sopranos, however, and I’m all over the place, and not in a good seeing-the-world-and-all-its-wonders way.  I’m the musical equivalent of a wrecking ball, bashing the closest notes in a frenzy of must-get-through-this-no-matter-what and taking down anyone within range before they’re even aware that the trill under the bridge has escaped to eat anyone unfortunate enough to cross its path.

Image result for free to use singing funny

This is not a case of false modesty: I cannot hold a tune if my neighbour wavers even a little from my particular party line.  It is for this reason I opted to sit near the back of the Altos on Saturday night, at the end of the row closest to the wall.  I was safe there; and everyone was safe from me…until three surplus Sopranos were moved to the only empty seats on the stage, next-but-one to me.  Ah well; I smiled a lot, sang the unison parts and mouthed the words when the tune overpowered me. The audience seemed to enjoy themselves all night so I don’t think they noticed; though the Mayor of Manchester did leave early…he said it was for another engagement, but he would say that, wouldn’t he?

The most exciting thing for me was that I got to perform with Alex!  Granted, he was a featured soloist and I hid behind my scores the whole night, but still, I performed with my baby!  He sang the lyrics to Billy Joel’s For The Longest Time and the choir sang all the backing ‘woh-woh’ bits. Thirty-six members of the choir sang the ‘woh-woh’ bits, that is; and one member kept getting distracted and forgetting where she was up to.

The harmony lyrics are basically, Woh-oh-oh-oh…For the longest time.  How hard can it be?

Pretty hard, actually, if you’re trying to listen to the child who once sat in your stomach like lead pillow stuffing sing like the angel who gave you stretch marks on top of your other angel’s stretch marks, and thirty-six other people won’t shut up so you can hear him.

Now for the promised entertainment: I’m not going to give you For The Longest Time because there’s some woman in the back out of time and out of tune; instead, I give you a little bit of Gershwin.  You may recall Alex’s frequent collaborator, Sam Gilliatt, who played Jesus to his Judas in Godspell; and Greville to his Bert in two separate productions of The Tree of War.  Here they are showing off their natural onstage chemistry.  You can thank me in the comments.  Incidentally, this performance came after one ten-minute rehearsal, thirty minutes before the show.  Both boys had been busy with other things and that was their first opportunity to rehearse together.

Fred & Ginger Fred

Postscript:

My favourite comment of the night came from the sweet geriatric lady who told Alex, ‘I’m one of your groupies.’

 

A Bit O’ Fun

31 Oct

Spud and friend, taking singing seriously:

*

Supermarket Singing

30 Mar

Supermarket car parks are generally unpleasant places: cars loaded with BOGOFs that will often go uneaten because they pass their sell-by date, try to run down pensioners with their one carrier bag, forced to walk to the bottom end of the car park because selfish, fit middle-aged men park their Beamers in the disabled spaces.  But not on Palm Sundays in this corner of Stockport, for that is the day that local church congregations come together for thirty minutes and sing joyful hymns to bemused shoppers.

The tradition was started a couple of years ago by our previous vicar, but we had a donkey then: the incredibly good-natured and beautiful twenty-five year old Jenny Donkey, hired to lead us where we might not otherwise have followed.  I have done some bizarre things in my life, but I think following a donkey to Morrisons was the most peculiar, and yet amazingly good fun. 

 This is a Jenny Donkey but not our Jenny Donkey. 

It is a ten-minute walk behind a placid donkey from our starting point at St John’s Church, to get to Morrisons’ car park and meet up with the Salvation Army Band.  Their presence surprised me, the first year, because I thought they only came out at Christmas.  That first Palm Sunday, hymn sheets were passed out and everyone seemed to have a good time singing along.  We quickly got through the printed hymns and had to dredge from memory the words to the familiar tunes that followed: as each person knew some songs better than others, the best that can be said was that a joyful noise was made unto the Lord.

The bravest among us (not me, obviously) handed out palm crosses to the shoppers.  It helps to have a child along because even the most harassed of people will mind their language in front of a five-year old.  To be fair, many shoppers were happy to listen to the singing whilst their children stroked Jenny Donkey and fed her Polo Mints, and I only heard one complaint about donkey spit on the clothes – fortunately, from my own child.

The festive atmosphere had an international feel because we not only had people from many different denominations but also from different countries, including America and Zambia.  Each church made its own contribution to the event: as a sample, the Salvation Army provided the wonderful music which, with our usual British reserve, we were all too embarrassed to applaud, much as we wanted to, in case total strangers saw us being slightly exuberant in public; St Matthew’s brought real palm leaves; and my church provided the donkey mints.

We are in our third year now and have sadly lost the vicar (pastures new) and the donkey (pastor unfortunately took the owner’s contact details with her), but the singing is better.  The shoppers’ stupefied looks remain, however: some traditions never die.

Nicola Hulme Author

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