Harmony 303 choir


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Harmony 303 sing with local schools

In late November 2019 the Harmony 303 choir joined forces with Martock & Ash Schools & Martock U3A to give a concert in All Saints’ Church. This was the first time that both our local primary schools have been involved in a Harmony concert, and a first in terms of including members of Martock U3A and it proved to be an uplifting and happy occasion.


The evening began with Harmony’s rendition of ‘Da Doo Ron Ron’, an old favourite which never fails to get an audience singing along. The last song in the first set, a traditional drinking song called ‘The Barley Mow’ also had the audience trying to join in, but it’s one of those songs that adds a bit as it goes along, which we choir members find tricky enough, so participation was limited – but had people smiling.


Ash School then sang three popular songs before being joined by Martock School, and led by their music teachers they together sang ‘Ain’t No Mountain High Enough’ and a poignant ‘Can you hear my Voice?’ They watched their respective leaders impressively closely, and sounded lovely.


During the interval whilst refreshments were served, the Martock U3A Ukulele band- resplendent in bright pink- entertained with a selection of good old sing-a-longs, and many of the audience did just that, coming up to the front of the stage, cups & glasses in hand. It was fun.


Back to the singing, and Harmony 303 again opened proceedings, this time with an18th century hymn, then a rousing South African shout, and finally a beautiful arrangement of the ever-popular ‘Bridge Over Troubled Water’

After which a complete change: the U3A Recorder Consort, comprising

2 descants, 2 trebles, 2 tenors and one bass recorder tootled through a programme that included Bach and Beatles; the recorders made a lovely sound in the church, notes soaring ever upwards.


Martock School sang again before being joined by the other choirs for the finale- first a delightful Appalachian Lullaby, and finishing with the appropriate ‘Taking my Song’ (All round the World) We had only once sung this together before the concert, but it sounded lovely.


It was a most enjoyable evening; there was something to suit all tastes, and all the participants looked as if they we enjoying themselves.  And with music, that really is the main thing.


Jenny Becker

An account of the trip to Catalonia





The fun started from the moment we gathered together at the departure gate at Bristol airport and gave our unsuspecting -subsequently bemused -fellow passengers a rollicking ‘Doo Ron Ron’ to send them and us skywards to Barcelona on a song. This was the Harmony 303 choir on tour starting as we meant to go on- singing for joy for three days in Catalonia.


Our first proper performance the next day was in Barcelona’s Cathedral (no, not the Gaudi) where we stood right up at the high altar, gazing down the length of this beautiful traditional space, and after an introduction in Catalan, Spanish and English from Caroline our musical director, launched into a lively spiritual. And it was at that moment that I realised just how amazing the acoustics were- the echo seemed to make our voices wrap themselves around us and enhance the clarity of each word. I thought we were sounding pretty good, but was nevertheless surprised when we were applauded because it was difficult to gauge how many of the visitors to the cathedral were pausing to listen. Well, clearly they were, and I think this gave us confidence in this potentially daunting setting, and thus encouraged, we sang through our repertoire of sacred and spiritual songs. Some songs, like ‘Alleluia,’ were so absolutely right for this unforgettable venue, and took on a life of their own, and when we reached our final song- ‘New Jerusalem’ – we gave it our all.  Our voices soared and reverberated up to the heights in a way that just can’t happen in Norton Village Hall. For me, the whole trip was made worthwhile just for that one moment.


But that was just the start, and the next day found us in our coach winding up and up and up a mountain to reach the Montserrat Monastery where we had been granted permission to sing the three songs in our repertoire which complied with the monastery’s exacting rules regarding spiritual or sacred content. Our singing was incorporated into a small service, so it felt like a privilege to be there. The setting was again inspirational, and our songs were so right within it.


Our final official performance was in the Poble Espanol- back in Barcelona; this is a sort of re-creation of ‘old’ Spain- squares and buildings reminiscent of a century ago. We stood on a sunny terrace, with an amazing city vista below us, and people just wandered in and out of the space, some stopping to listen, others more intent on the selfies the view offered as a backdrop. This was a much more relaxed sing, which suited the setting- ‘Doo Ron Ron’ was reprised, we sang a sea shanty, ‘Bridge over Troubled Water’ and finished- appropriately- with‘Adios Hermanos’ at the end of which some Spanish ladies embraced Caroline- they had obviously loved it!  And all this- hilariously- to the cacophonous background screeching of a flock of parakeets determined to out-sing us.


On our last night we gave an informal performance in the bar of our hotel to an audience of fellow guests- mostly elderly Spaniards – who at first applauded politely rather than enthusiastically- we were, after all, just the warm up act before the disco. But as we sang on, feet started tapping, heads nodded, lots joined in with ‘Bridge over Troubled Water’ We were winning them over, and when we sang a rousing ‘Happy Birthday’ for one of their number, they loved us! But the last note of our final song clearly signalled ‘Disco Time’ and they rose from their seats as one, surged on to the dance floor, and as the beat music started, began synchronised line dancing. This was serious business; unsmiling and intent, they twirled and clapped and shuffled in military formation, on and on and on, inexorably. So what could we do but join them? I shall cherish forever the sight of some of our number dancing alongside the Spanish line dancers in their own inimical way….


Our Catalonia tour was excellent, the happiest mix of singing, sight-seeing, eating, drinking, laughing, talking. Severally and together we did dozens of different things- we walked a mountain path with vertiginous drops, wandered Las Ramblas, took a tour bus, explored galleries; we watched street dancers and dozens of men women and children form a towering human column, we shopped, rode a funicular, had a silly moment with a chocolate fountain, wondered at Gaudi’s breathtaking monument, plunged into the ocean (well, just one of us). We got to know choir members from all sections, we shared, we looked out for each other. We had a very jolly last evening in the hotel bar where we demonstrated our appreciation of our wonderful musical director. We were looked after so well by all those involved in the organisation of this very successful venture, thus huge thanks to Dave our leader, and to Margaret and the team with us on the trip,  and to Ros at this end. We had the loveliest time.



Jenny Becker

November 2018

Martock & Ash Community Choir Sing for Water – again!


On a very hot Sunday morning in July 2018, some forty or more Harmony 303 singers were transported to Bristol to ‘Sing For Water’. This is a concert for which choirs learn learn the same songs over a few months, then come together for one massive performance. Each choir commits to raise a certain amount of money for Water Aid, which the charity uses to bring clean water to people in some of the poorest parts of the world- currently they are in Rwanda. This is the third time Harmony 303 have supported this initiative, and each year our choir has raised more money; this time the total raised – through craft, produce, book and pre-loved item sales, workshops, practice dvds for singers, coffee mornings et al. – was some £2,500.

The total number of singers taking part this year was in excess of 1000, so the concert was in two parts, half singing at midday, then the other half after lunch break. We were in the second half so we had chance to listen to the songs – and the sound was overwhelming. Used as we are to some 50 or 60 or so of us singing together, we were engulfed by a wave – a tsunami of sound, as 500 plus voices raised the roof of the Passenger Shed at Bristol station, all singing ‘our’ songs. Amazing!

But, if we were moved when listening, the experience of singing later was even more awesome. Surrounded by sound, and – because of excellent acoustics – able to hear all the harmonies, it was a truly uplifting experience. Interestingly, one song that some of us hadn’t much liked – ‘So Much Magnificence (in the Ocean)’ absolutely came into its own, and the final soaring crescendo of ‘Hallelujah’ from all parts of the massed choir was nothing short of the magnificence it sang of. Thus, perhaps inevitably, the simple beauty of our final song, ‘Bridge over Troubled Water’ proved too much, and the line ‘when tears are in your eyes…’ took on a whole new meaning for some of us. Simon & Garfunkel did well, but Harmony 303 and the massed ‘Sing for Water’ choir in a railway shed in Bristol on a hot day in July 2018 did better, believe me.

Jenny Becker

Dillington Christmas Fair


Songs and Scones at Stourhead


Songs and Scones : Stourhead 2017

What a delightful experience : Stourhead on a beautiful autumn day, with the sun shining and lots of visitors to enjoy our singing.

Saturday 23rd of September, the coach takes us up the arterial road for which we are named and pulls into the car park near the visitors centre at Stourhead. Time for a quick coffee before going through the National Trust’s entrance and down the slope to the Spreadeagle, the first of three venues!

We assemble in the courtyard of the Spreadeagle Tavern, sort out music and positions and erect the Harmony 303 banner, a splash of blue against the red of the old bricks, and the golds and browns of the just turning leaves.

We were ready! Caroline called us to order and our singing could begin. With her customary energy Caroline led us in renditions of some of our favourite songs. A delightful welcome to visitors as they came through the arch into the courtyard on their way to the lake and gardens. And they stopped, listened and enjoyed if we can judge by their faces and applause.

On to the second venue, less enclosed, more open to wind and movement, the café our backdrop. We sing a couple of songs (enjoyed by the passing audience as much as the free samples of cider and cheese from the farmshop). How lovely for the visitors to sit enjoying the sun and listening to us sing.

As one of our new songs says “It’s looking like a beautiful day”, rich colours of changing leaves, lots of people to sing for, and some of our favourite songs – Bele Mama, Every Voice Shall Sing, Mingulay Boatsong – Basses with great gusto!, New Jerusalem , Alleluia!Then picnics and lunch for us – chatter and laughter with each other and with the other visitors.

Come on, we’re not finished yet! Off we go across the valley and up to the House itself, right in front of the sweeping steps and columns. Now we have the view, out across Dorset to Shaftesbury and beyond. But no dreaming there, Caroline as ever is still full of energy, and where she leads…

This is a great spot to sing. Somehow the building holds and offers the sound to the audience, who are now behind and above as well as in front. Each venue has been different from the others, each with its own ambiance and of its own ‘promenade’ audience. And here in front of aristocratic splendour, worthy of Harmony 303, members of the audience say “Best performance yet! Well done!” A splendid finale to a joyous day out!

Time for tea and a chance to relax and savour the delicious scones offered free by the National Trust as a “thank you” for coming to sing. “Oh but, by the way, you’ll have to pay if you want cream and maybe jam”!

A day with so many lovely memories!

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