Saturday 10th December saw Fascinating Rhythm head off into the wilds of South Gloucestershire to entertain Sodbury and Yate Rotarians after their Christmas meal. After warming up our voices in a nearby scout hut, we crept into the little village hall to surprise our very appreciative audience; as we filed in one lady remarked how many of us there were – a surprise to us as we were feeling like a small chorus with only about 25 of our usual 60 singers due to the small venue.
This gig had an intimate feel with singers very close to audience (and the kitchen where the washing up was in progress). We held off the anticipated seasonal programme, starting off with some of our favourite repertoire songs which were very well received, then as we left the stage for a short interval – and to set the scene for our Christmas set – MD Jo Dean asked the replete and merry diners to count and name Santa’s reindeer* for when we returned.
Second half started off with a rousing chorus of ‘Ding Dong Merrily’ to put everyone in the mood, followed by a thundering rendition of ‘Carol of the Bells’. It was lovely to have the audience join in some of the carols later on, with the gentlemen in the audience making our fab Bass section sound even more awesome.
*There are, of course, 10 reindeer – don’t forget to count Olive (Olive the other reindeer …)
I didn’t really know what to expect from Convention, except I had watched a few choruses on You Tube. For me, overwhelmingly, it was the sense of bonding I got with other members of
Our five lovely new members at their first convention
FR! I loved the spontaneous singing we did at dinner the first evening and then again in the restaurant with another chorus on the Saturday – really “singing for our supper”! It was nice to look around and see non-singers enjoying the singing too. As for the competition itself, I found it really exciting and it was good to hear different Choruses. It helped me understand a bit more about why good choruses sound good. I was on a high from start to finish and feeling lasted a good long time during following week too as we had done so well! Feel proud to be part of FR.
Convention – how can I describe it? Amazing, bonding, professional, exhilarating, full of warmth and friendship, relaxing and refreshing. When I got on the coach to Harrogate I had no idea what to expect. The FR family sprang into action and I felt fully supported throughout. The coach ride gave the opportunity to learn more about the people we stand on the risers with each week. The militant schedule for our package meant we were all focused and feeling prepared for getting on the stage. I loved the way we could all just come and go in different groups, listen to other choruses and just share in one common interest.
By far, the best moment, was waiting on the stairs to go in and perform our package holding hands and feeling the energy from the whole of FR, so overwhelming and calming at the same time. A weekend I will never forget and roll on Convention 2017.
My first convention was a really thrilling experience. The adrenaline pushed us all to be even better than we had been before and I was so proud to be a part of a really great sound. My favourite moment was when we were all warmed up, dressed and ready waiting in the stairwell about to go onstage. We held hands in silence just repeating in our head “We’ve got this”. The moment was truly electric and made me feel like I was a part of such a special chorus. We’re all in this together!
Through feedback from longer-standing FR members I had tried to create an image in my mind of the LABBS Convention. Well, the reality included far more shimmer, glitter and glamour than I could have imagined! I loved the warm air of friendliness, encouragement and support throughout the weekend amongst delegates both within the conference centre and when seeing each other out and about in Harrogate. There was a real buzz throughout the weekend and it was great to see so many other groups and quartets performing, allowing me to observe and learn from each and every one of them. As for FR – it was an uplifting experience to be part of such a focused, committed, enthusiastic and hard-working group; our fabulous performance was the icing on the cake, the measure of success for me being the massive smile on Jo D’s face!
Junior FR took part in The Big Sing on 1st December at St Peters Church in Frampton Cotterell. This community charity event raises funds for Christian Aid with many school choirs and local children’s choirs involved. Wearing their FR T-shirts and with something Christmassy in their hair, JFR performed a 3-part arrangement of ‘Amazing Grace/Pachabel’s Canon’, then the juniors sang a really fun and vibrant version of ‘Must Be Santa’ by
Bob Dylan, followed by the seniors with ‘Winter Wonderland’ in 4 parts and supported by the FR helpers. MD Wendy Howse received the following from one of the organisers:
‘I just wanted to say a big thank you to JFR for coming along to this year’s Big Sing, the children sang beautifully & are a real credit to you. I’m pleased to say that £510.71 was raised for Christian Aid, to which will be added £94 in Gift Aid. Thanks again & best wishes’ Alison.
Jolly cold, but it was the most beautiful winter’s day to enjoy a bit of seasonal singing. On 4th December 2016, we were pleased to be invited back to sing in the beautiful little church in the grounds of the National Trust’s very popular Dyrham Park where we performed two sets to good audiences. Lovely experience for the youngsters, including those who joined in when the pitch was blown (and not necessarily in the same key).
We had a bit of a struggle to get there as unfortunately there had been an accident on the
A 46 and the road was eventually closed, but most of us were on time for the first session and the rest arrived after a detour through the village. Once again we were very well looked after – tea, coffee and biscuits warmed us through the sub-zero temperatures; very difficult to see the MD when your glasses mist up every time you sing!
Oooh – is that Santa doing an early run?
We’re thrilled to bits to have improved our score again this year by a whole 2 points and hold on to our 5th place. We’ve still a way to go before scoring high enough to get into the top 3 but we’re more consistent now and improving year on year. Two points may not seem like much, but considering there was only 0.6 between us and the 4th placed Chorus and 0.4 for the one biting our ankles you can see just how tight the competition is. We’re judged in three categories: Music (the arrangement), Presentation & Singing; looking at the scores, we were actually 4th in Presentation, so we dun good getting the interpretation of the songs across. Our new dresses looked good under the stage lights too, very sparkly. We had both of our songs especially arranged for us again this year by Liz Garnett: ‘Is You Is or Is You Ain’t My Baby’ and ‘Someone to Watch Over Me’. Apparently, we’re the first chorus to bring two totally new arrangements to two consecutive conventions; hope this sets a trend – there’s so many great songs out there just waiting to be arranged and sung in the barbershop style. We’re aiming to make it three in a row and bring two ones to Eastbourne in 2017.
During 2016, LABBS (Ladies Association of British Barbershop Singers) are celebrating 40 years of glorious harmony and, as with every Convention, all the clubs are sent a song to learn so we can raise the roof together. As this is a special year, we were sent no less a challenge than … Bohemian Rhapsody! If you’d like to hear what it sounds like sung by 2,000 women, led by multiple gold medallists The White Rosettes chorus and their MD Sally McLean—visit www.labbs.org.uk (scroll middle column just above White Rosettes).
At this point, we’d again like to say a huge Thank You to all Friends of FR and to our families for the support you give us throughout the year; we had over 200 guests at our dress rehearsal and it really makes such a difference to have you there.