Off again without my uke for a day of vocal workouts at the Southbank Chorus Festival, as I bought some lunch for later on, I was delighted to spot a group of lively buskers by Victoria Embankment Gardens, with the lead singer wielding a ukulele & dancing around.
As with last year, there were events all over the Southbank complex – on the Riverside Terrace, Front Room at the Queen Elizabeth Hall, Purcell Room, up in the St Paul’s Roof Pavilion, down in the Spirit level basement (very echoey – great acoustics) & dotted around various bar areas.
I’d decided to try out four of the free workshops & listen to whatever choirs I could catch in the gaps.
The song-sharing session by FUNdamentally Gospel split us into our singing range groupings & began with some vocal warm-up exercises. We then learnt the Jackie Wilson number (Your Love Keeps Lifting Me) Higher and Higher. For one of the choruses, we were singing a syllable each, which certainly kept us on our toes.
Glee Club Ascot were another jolly group. We warmed -up by singing Let It Be, then – again in groups for our vocal ranges – launched into the Motown classic Ain’t No Mountain High Enough. In addition to the grand piano, we has a full orchestral accompaniment recording, including a segue into another number for the middle eight & dance moves!
Next, I joined Irish composer John Browne, who was showcasing his new musical play The Events that evening at the Queen Elizabeth Hall. Sparked by the awful killings in Oslo in 2011, the play moves these incidents to happen within a choir rehearsal. The play has 250 singers in it, mostly new each night as they are from the local community where it’s being performed, but a couple of Dublin choirs were there to help us all out. We sang the haunting finale song We’re All Here.
Finally, I went into the Purcell Room for Pitch Bach to be part of an instant choir singing a Bach Chorale accompanied by pedal organ. Chorale 55 from the St Matthew Passion was very pretty but by then I think I was too tired to spend an hour reading a music score (especially as the workshop leader decided to only have us singing ‘la-la’ instead of the actual lyrics, which I’d have found easier to follow). But it did sound great being in the middle of the group.
On my way out, I caught a Latin American performance, with some fine flamenco guitar work from Camilo Menjura, which perked me up before heading home. Not bad for a completely free day out!
Here are Glee Club performing Perfect Day out on the Riverside Terrace: