Sing for water 2016
SING FOR WATER- BATH 2016
Harmony 303 took part in – and enjoyed – ‘Sing for Water’ in Bristol in 2013, so the opportunity to sing again at Bath was welcomed by some 40 or more members, most of whom had had the Bristol experience. Bath was different in many ways-the weather, the venue, the organisation et al- but it too proved to be a memorable day.
The weather was remarkable: it veered from sunshine and blue skies to inky clouds, deluge and sudden cold and mighty winds – oh so much different from the scorching heat of Bristol. And the most notable veering happened in the time it took for the first half of the choir to leave the (metaphorical) stage, and the second half – which included Harmony 303 – to take it. It was extraordinary timing on the part of the weather gods, who threw everything at us mid-first line of our first song, and had us breaking rank to scrabble for waterproofs and umbrellas from the bags at our feet. I was bemused by the umbrellas insofar as they completely obscured sight of our conductor for anyone standing behind one, but up they went nonetheless. Whatever happened to suffering for one’s art? But as is ever the way with people who get together to sing, good humour prevailed relentlessly, and the rain and associated inconveniences really didn’t matter.
The venue was amazing- the backdrop being the Royal Crescent, which was so much more attractive than the stone amphitheatre of the docks at Bristol. However, acoustically it was not comparable: our voices flew away with the wind, and with no hard surfaces from which to bounce back, the sound we produced belied the fact that we were a nearly-1000 strong choir. We- the Harmony choir- had an advantage in being able to listen to the other half of the singers before we performed, so we were aware that we needed to make as much noise as was possible. And I think we did; it wasn’t a competition in any sense, but getting up second to sing the same songs ( except one) made it feel a bit like one- no bad thing in terms of trying really hard!
The best bit was when we all joined together again, the sun came out, the audience -stoically remaining through the rain- applauded, and songs that we loved singing came out just right. The prevailing theme of the songs was water- some of which have since become part of Harmony’s repertoire,”Boat on a River’, ‘Beyond the Sea’- as well as some with no watery connection, like ” I Won’t Back Down’, which we just liked. It sounded amazing with so many singers at Bath.
Our conductors- a different one for each song- deserve a mention, because they were splendid, standing on a not very robust looking scaffold platform, gesticulating and yelling, retaining good humour in tricky conditions, encouraging, praising. Other memorable aspects of the day were the wonderful porta-loos (!), a group singing African songs with choreographed movements whilst we had lunch, a poignant poem that was read to us, the camaraderie. ‘Sing for Water’ is about raising money for Water Aid, but it is also an opportunity to share a love of singing with strangers, who somehow are not strangers, but are fellow-singers by the end of the day.