Wednesday, May 23, 2012

The weekend - the American choir.......

Good morning from a summery, hot Middle England! Yes, this is Linds here, reporting in, and I am finally awake and have sort of gathered my wits after a mega weekend. I have been trying to upload a bit of video, but Blogger keeps saying it is sorry, but there was an error. 


Oh what a wonderful weekend it was. The arrival of the coach carrying the Americans, and, more importantly, Becky, was late, so there was much pacing around the perimeter of the church with others looking for any sign of a slightly lost coach before it slowly inched up the road. There I was waving wildly, and Becky too, was waving. We just could not believe this was happening, you know. What started with 2 middle aged women writing blogs, and tentatively leaving comments 6 years ago has become a real friendship over the years. And then, over lunch last year with friends here in my little world, the idea of combining our community choir with their university choir was talked about. 

And we didn't let it drop. Our musical director, Jon was up for it, and so he and Barry got to know each other through emails back and forth and phone calls too, when Jon and Liz visited the States for Christmas.

And it all culminated in the arrival of that coach, bearing 43 of them. 

So you can see why Becky and I were just a little bit excited. 

I wanted to sing, but that was difficult, so I did the arranging of hosts for the choir with the man who does all the admin stuff for EBM, and by Friday afternoon, we had ironed out all the kinks and last minute hitches, and then they arrived. Becky and I flew to each other and among all the hugs, just could not believe they were really here. All of them. We didn't have a great deal of time before the performance at 7, so they were all taken to the church for a technical rehearsal, and then we dispatched them to their waiting hosts and hostesses  and off they went. 

And I brought Barry and Becky home with me, and we sat in my kitchen at the table, having tea and cake and chatted non-stop until it was time to change and head out to the church. The concert was a complete sell-out, and they were turning people away at the door. I had reserved a pew for us at the front, and also managed to work out a way to stand, half concealed behind a pillar on a kneeler to minimise the vibration. Nothing would have moved me, let me tell you. And I had the camera. 

The first item up was everyone, including the audience, singing "All people that on earth do dwell" you remember the second line??? "Sing to the Lord with cheerful voice". Yes. We did that. All of us. All people. From all places. Together. Singing. 

And then Musical Roots, a local folk band sang a couple of songs, before our choir, all 100+ of them moved forward and sang too.

Right across the front of the church, and also up the chancel as well. Many, many singers.
And then it was time for the Crusader Choir from North West Nazarene University, led by Barry - Becky's lovely husband. Well. I wish you could have been there to hear them. They were unbelievable. SO talented. SO amazing. And the sound was just glorious. The audience would not stop applauding after each number. AND they also sang an African song from South Africa, which reduced the South Africans in the audience to tears. Tshotsholoza. (Shosholoza)  Oh, wow. Superlatives? Use the lot. THAT good.
They also did their Monkees song after the local choir sang a Beatles medley. And the William Tell Overture? I will never know how they managed that one. The encore was even faster.
And then the massed choirs - all 140 odd of them - moved around the church. The front, the one side, 4 deep, the chancel......singers everywhere, and the young organist, who was just 18 doing a fabulous job on the organ....Jon on the high stand with baton raised....... and then the first perfect note of Zadok the was like a wall of sound rolling over everyone. Becky and I just looked at each other and did not know whether to laugh or cry. And even the coach driver joined in for Zadok. It turned out that he had sung it before, so Barry found him a waistcoat and shirt and there he was too, singing his heart out. (He was a head teacher who took early retirement!)
THIS happened because of us. Us. Two middle aged women reached out across the world, and 6 years down the track...THIS. Anything is possible. And the standing ovation at the end of the concert.....oh, how I wish you had all been there too. No-one wanted it to end.
But end it had to, and the church had to be stripped of all tech equipment, because the daughter of a friend of mine was getting married the next morning. So we all walked down through the church grounds to the hall for a fish and chip supper. The noise was wonderful. So much chatter. So much laughter. Everyone was on a high. And the getting to know each process was well under way.

My friends were all hosts - Jean, Peter and Glynis included, so eventually everyone made their way home for yet more chatter and bed. Well, some went to bed. Becky and I sat up till 1am chatting. Here she is, curled up on my couch. As she said, she had dreamt of curling up just there! And I could not have been more delighted.
Early the next morning, after breakfast (and more talking) we made our way down to the village centre, where the coach was waiting for them, and slowly, from all directions, the students and their hosts appeared (via the little sweet shop) to pack their luggage away and climb aboard and head off to London..
In the middle of all of this, a runaway car belonging to a shop owner, rolled down the hill and landed up in the shop where I have my nails done, so there were police cars racing about with sirens blaring. We like to provide a little excitement here. No-one was hurt, thankfully. A miracle.
And then we had to wave goodbye. It was just perfect. I only wish they could have stayed longer. We could have packed the church over and over again. They will simply have to come back. Next year would be good.

I didn't have time to think much, though, because as soon as they left, I had to get home to change for the wedding at 12. In the same church. I hurtled (my sort of hurtling) through the door at 11.15, shedding clothes as I went.......

But that is for tomorrow. Weddings. Bunting........


Needled Mom said...

What an amazing story - all because of you two! I can only imagine the wonderful feeling it must have been. I am sure the music was fabulous too. It looks like it was from all of your great photos.

Looking forward to the wedding now.

Lisa Marie said...

That is so awesome Linds! What a wonderful friendship you have begun and could you have ever imagined that it would end with this? Beautiful! It really is a small world isn't it and what great memories you will have of this wonderful week-end.

Stripeyspots said...

It's the story of the mustard seed all over again. From such humble beginnings, incredible things grow.

Vee said...

Wow. Amazing things can happen indeed. How I wish that Blogger would have cooperated more because I really, really want to see the video. Your friend looks so lovely seated there upon your sofa!

Anonymous said...

I have just now made my way to your blog to read this. It was so fun to relive it all over again as I read. I cherish the time we had together last week.