Singing for Joy
Back in 2012 The WI launched a large scale competition to celebrate communal singing as part of their centenary celebrations. Choirs of all ages and abilities were encouraged to get involved and join the three year Singing for Joy competition. During the heats choirs have had the opportunity to sing with Jonathan Willcocks, Honorary Fellow of the Royal College of Music, who has also composed a specially commissioned piece for performance by the national finalists.
Elizabeth George, a long time member of SfP shares her experiences of taking part in the competition and leading her choir to the upcoming finals in March 2015.
The Ta-Rowdles started in the Spring of 2012 at Hammerwich Women’s Institute, Staffordshire. As a Choir director and new WI member I’d suggested that we should start a choir and become involved in the National Federation of W.I.’s ‘Singing for Joy ~ Choir of the Centenary Competition’. So, a small singing group of nervous but eager ladies was formed, with fortnightly rehearsals at Hammerwich WI Hall.
After a debut performance at a WI event, confidence grew, new members joined, and the singing group became a choir. Over the next eighteen months, we gave several concerts all of which were extremely well supported and also performed out of the village: at another local WI event and at a local church.
We were given a place in the Central Region heat at Shrewsbury’s Theatre Severn, on 11th October 2014. The heat featured eleven other choirs from central England, the whole of Wales and the Isle of Man. As the choir of a small village WI (with only 22 choir members), we felt we were very much the “David” of the competition, certainly not Goliath! We were up against four well-established federation choirs and other individual choirs with considerably more experience.
We had been allocated the second performance slot of the day and sang the following: Orra Bhonna Bhonnagin/ Rousay Lullaby (an arrangement of two Scottish folk pieces from Katy Cooper’s O Lux Beata); I’ll Be There (originally by the Jackson 5); Jesu Ukukhanya (from Alexander L’Estrange’s Songs of a Rainbow Nation).
We left the stage elated and returned to our seats in the auditorium to listen to the remaining choirs. After the last choir had sung, the adjudicator, Jonathan Willcocks, took to the stage to deliver feedback on the competition as a whole; and individual feedback for each choir. Our feedback was excellent and at this point that we started to believe that we might have a chance. However, we were still completely stunned when Jonathan announced that Hammerwich Ta-Rowdles would be going through to the national finals in March 2015! He had accidentally referred to us as ‘Hammerwich Ta-Rowdies’ earlier on, and our reaction certainly lived up to that name! Throughout the day we were feeling incredibly proud of ourselves for giving such a strong performance, but winning the heat was the icing on the cake.
The final will take place at Birmingham Town Hall on March 14 2015. We are so excited to have the opportunity to sing at such a prestigious venue, regardless of the outcome. Let preparations commence!
Tickets will go on sale at Birmingham Town Hall box office on 1st December 2014. Read more about the WI and the competition here.