Hello Hygge

Our friends in the north know a thing or two about getting through the cold dark months and I can tell you that deprivation and frenetic gym visits are not on their agenda. If I lived in Copenhagen I’d be indulging in ‘hygge’: getting cosy with the fireside, a couple of blankets, cashmere socks and the cat on my knee.  Well, it’s true that I’ve been spending more than the odd afternoon immersed in my Christmas box set of Game of Thrones, but now that January is here, I am making an effort to be more active and eat more healthily.

This morning, we’ve been for a long walk along the River Dee in Chester and had brunch at my current favourite independent tea shop  Three Kings Studios.

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I’m back to my usual classes at the gym too, but promising not to be too hard on myself.  After all, you can’t restrict comfort and joy to just one month in the year!  I’m intending to enjoy January and I hope you are too.

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Christmas With The Chester Ladies’ Choir

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When you sing with a choir, Christmas starts early.  Very early.  In fact we started learning Christmas music in October, so it’s fair to say we are pretty consumed by the season of goodwill already, even though it’s still two weeks away.

This week there have been two Christmas concerts.  Our main event was at Wesley Church Chester where we showcased our seasonal repertoire which includes firm favourites White Christmas and Winter Wonderland as well as sacred pieces Pavanne For A Silent Night and Gaudete.

Our audience had to do their bit too, with a sing along of Saviour’s Day to end the night.

We had some amazing guests:  Dylan Cernyw on harp and local Chester singers Megan Lamour and John Henry.  If you have never heard a harp played professionally, then seek out one of Dylan’s performances.  I promise you will not be disappointed.

We raised £248 for Guide Dogs, a charity which is especially close to our hearts, as one of our choir members, Clare, will have her own guide dog in the new year.

Our second gig was at Chester’s St Mary’s Centre, where we were guests of Theatre In The Quarter, celebrating choral music with ‘Joy To The World’.  We shared the stage with some wonderful local choirs: Dee Sign Choir, Hoole Community Choir, Dragonsong and Hope Street Harmonies. The atmosphere was buzzing as Matt Baker hosted this fun evening which was a real treat for anyone who loves to hear a choir sing.

Of course, it’s not over yet!  Next week we are singing for a local charity and will also be at M&S Outlet Cheshire Oaks singing carols to raise money for Guide Dogs.

If you would like to be doing this next Christmas, then why not join us in January?  We meet at St Luke’s Huntington 7:30 to 9:30 Tuesday evenings.

Enjoy your Christmas, music lovers!

 

 

 

 

Girls On Tour in London: The Chester Ladies’ Choir

After months of intense rehearsal (and fun) we finally made it onto the stage at the Royal Albert Hall last night for the fabulous Festival Of Brass and Voices in aid of Cancer Research UK.  To sing in such an iconic building was such a privilege and I had to pinch myself a couple of times to check it was really happening.  Here we are at our hip and trendy Clayton Hotel in Chiswick, all set for the performance.

DSCN0037Earlier in the day we had queued in the rain to get into rehearsals.

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After what seemed like hours, we finally got in and ran through the whole programme until William Relton (in his signature red braces) was happy with us.

Then it was performance time!

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The concert was amazing. The hair on the back of my neck stood up as soon as we sang the first few notes of With A Voice of Singing and then continued to do so, as we enjoyed many wonderful pieces from the bands and choirs.  I particularly loved the Grand March from Aida (the odd forgotten word notwithstanding) when I really felt the full impact of such a huge number of voices singing en masse.

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Socially, we had a great time getting to know one another and no doubt making friends for life.

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Would I do it all again?  Ask me next week when I’ve recovered!

Singing for Cancer Research UK At The Royal Albert Hall

I’m sure I’m not the only one who is very excited about our upcoming London trip with The Chester Ladies’ Choir.

We will be singing at the Royal Albert Hall in November to help raise money for Cancer Research UK.  We’re taking part in Festival of Brass and Voices which raised £160,000 for Cancer Research UK the last time it was held.

We’ve been rehearsing for months, meeting up with other choirs from around the country.   This is us in beautiful Huddersfield. all ready to start singing.

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We’re singing some beautiful pieces, including choruses from Verdi’s Aida, and the rousing Land of Hope and Glory.  I’m sure there will be much flag waving and a few tears on the day.

I’ve never been to the Royal Albert Hall and am incredibly excited at the thought of standing on stage looking out at such a huge audience.

I will of course be reporting on what we all get up to on our weekend away!

If you would like to donate to this important charity to help beat cancer sooner, please click on the link below and give whatever you can afford.  Every pound and every penny will go towards Cancer Research UK’s lifesaving research.  If you are a tax payer, you can always click the Gift Aid box to add even more to your donation.

https://www.justgiving.com/Festival-of-Brass-and-Voices-2015/

Thinking Of Joining A Choir?

Thinking of joining a choir?  Here’s what to expect:

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I sing with The Chester Ladies’ Choir and for anyone that loves to sing, it’s a fabulous group to be a part of.  Our new term starts next Tuesday 8th September and this is the ideal time to join.  In fact, if you would like to come along and see if it’s for you, you are welcome to come along to a practice for free as a ‘taster’ session.

We start with a few vocal warm ups led by our MD David Bebbington.  Then we usually work our way through two or three pieces of music in each session, each geared towards an upcoming concert.

A session lasts two hours (7:30 til 9:30 p.m. with a break for tea and chat!) and we meet at St Luke’s Huntington every Tuesday.

It costs £30 per term to be a member (three terms a year) which is just a couple of pounds a time for a great night out.

Whilst we do ask that you can hold a tune, you don’t have to be a fantastic singer.  The choir is a blend of voices and your singing will come on leaps and bounds as you progress through the weeks.  There is a short audition where David will ask you to sing a few scales (in private!)

We sing all sorts of music, from the Beatles to sacred pieces.  There’s something for everyone.

We’re a mix of ages from twenty something upwards.

We perform a few times a year at various venues, including Christmas and summer concerts at popular venues in Chester.

Fancy it?  You can email me on Christine.dodd224@live.co.uk or tweet me @flowerpowerlife to let me know you are coming for a taster session.  Our website is here.  Why not take a look?

Totnes and Buckfastleigh

These two pretty Devon towns are linked by the South Devon railway which runs along the River Dart.

Totnes is a hippytastic heaven for a flowerpower child of the sixties and seventies like me, with its abundance of offbeat boutiques, charity shops and of course the wonderful Neals Yard.  I spent ages in here just looking at the essential oils and jars containing herbal remedies.  Please open a shop in Chester soon!  This time, I bought some juniper essential oil which I will be burning in September for that ‘new term’ vibe that autumn brings.

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Totnes also has lots of teashops and it would be rude not to have a cream tea. I loved this mismatched china.

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We went onto the little town of Buckfastleigh to visit relatives who own and run the Baker’s Oven – a lovely bistro on the main street.

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The town was bedecked with bunting while we were there.  Not sure if this is all summer long, but it does give the place a summer holiday feel.

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These two towns turned up my best charity shop buys of our road trip: a set of retro seventies jars and a jam making pan – just what I’d been looking for.  I can’t pass a charity shop without a mooch!

The Chester Ladies’ Choir Diamond Anniversary Concert 16 May 2015

Well what an amazing night we had at The Chester Cathedral on Saturday!  DSCF1645The Chester Ladies’ Choir were celebrating sixty years of song with this packed programme of Chester performers, including our guests The City Of Chester Male Voice Choir and The City Of Chester Brass Band.

We opened with Karl Jenkins’ Adiemus which has a real joyous feel, a perfect way to start the celebration, followed by John Rutter’s very beautiful A Clare Benediction.  The Blue Bird by Charles Villiers Stanford felt very atmospheric and took the audience by surprise as they were not sure it had actually ended! Our closing piece was Bizet’s The Gypsies Chorus which gave us a chance to let our hair down!

Our first guests, the City Of Chester Brass Band performed two sets.  My favourite piece was Ticket To Ride (loved the special effects).

Next up was Welsh composer Robat Arwyn whom we had specially commissioned to write our anniversary piece ‘Diamonds That Shine In The Night’ and shine we did ladies didn’t we!  In fact we positively sparkled!  Robat performed two of his own compositions as well as accompanying both us and The City of Chester Male Voice Choir with their own special composition.

I should mention at this point that our Musical Director Rodney T Jones directs both choirs, so he was a very busy man on Saturday!  Alas, this was his last appearance with The Chester Ladies’ Choir as he is moving onto pastures new.  But it’s been a blast Rod and we wish you well for the future.  The City of Chester Male Voice Choir performed eight pieces, including the lovely Veni Jesu, arranged by Rod himself.

Our second set included The Lord Is My Shepherd, sung to the theme tune of The Vicar Of Dibley, composed and arranged by Howard Goodall.  This piece showcases the talent of our soprano soloist Nicky Pickering.  This was followed by the haunting The Ships Of Arcady by Michael Head. We closed our set with the very fitting As Long As I Have Music, a long time favourite of the choir.

The  Master Of  Ceremonies for this special evening was Chester’s own music man, Matt Baker who did a grand job!

Our piano accompanist Ian Belton was also very busy as not only did he play for us, he sang with the Male Voice Choir too!

Our final piece was a combined choral effort with the men, singing Hallelujah Chorus from Handel’s Messiah.  I wonder how many times the cathedral walls have heard it sung!

Well ladies it’s onwards and upwards! Here’s to the next sixty years.