Choirs - I wonder what picture this word conjures up in your mind? Alan Cooper talks to Your Letterbox giving us an insight into the choir that he belongs to. They call it Impromptu.
You may think that this is a strange name for a choir and I suppose in some ways it is, but perhaps if I tell how we started it may give you an idea how we came up with the name.
Many years ago, a choir member had a call from a friend who needed a favour. Her daughter was completing a Performing Arts Degree. As part of it she was involved in choreographing and performing a dance to a cantata (vocal composition) and for this they needed a choir to bring the music to life. The first answer was no. The choir she thought she was contacting had drifted apart, which sometimes happens. But on consideration she could perhaps get together a group of willing voices to help… and so another choir was born!
Having succeeded at this one-off performance, we had a taste for it and wanted to do it again; this time without the dancing! Being well received a second time we needed more, for no other purpose than just because we liked singing. Most of our members had either experienced group singing in the past or had sung for one reason or another. If you can believe it, this all happened 15 years ago. After initially meeting a few times, putting together a programme for a specific event and getting stuck in… it was all very, well impromptu - hence the name Impromptu, it seemed fitting.
We all enjoy singing and if you do too I don’t really need to explain the feeling you get doing it, there is nothing like it! Whether you are part of a group or not it’s a real joy. Additional enjoyment is found in singing as part of a small group. It's added passion when you know every voice counts, you must listen to each other to make it work, no one person stands out – when you get it right it’s spine tingling. It is as much about listening as it is about singing.
Our choir very quickly found reason for being. One such as ours was needed. A choir with not too many members but with a wide repertoire. We visit many different places for all types of events. Most years we attend somewhere between 10 and 12 of these events including garden parties, singing in care homes, concerts for various charities, concerts with schools, the list goes on. Big shows are rare. One amazing event comprised of a two-night event which involved other local artists and groups in aid of Katharine House Hospice. Since our choir began we have raised or assisted others to raise around £10,000 for various charities!
Sometimes being part of a choir has unexpected spin offs. Some of our members are also members of the Banbury Twinning organisation and this has led to us to being invited to Banbury's twin town in Germany, Hennef, to sing on three amazing occasions (our CV now includes a line detailing our international following!). These trips are always very rewarding, they also require a considerable amount of hard work beforehand. Generally, you stay with a family and this is quite often the same family for each trip - some very close and long-lasting friendships have been made. We were honoured to attend Europawoche, an event in Hennef which involved massed choirs from France and Poland along with 4 choirs from that area of Germany plus us - Impromptu! There were around 200 singers in total. As well as performing our own programme, there was a massed choir event with everybody singing Carmina Burana O Fortuna, a truly uplifting experience. If you have not heard Carmina Burana O Fortuna it is truly breath-taking on that scale live! Visiting as part of their summer festivities is a treat, the market square in Hennef becomes a mass of people. There are food stalls and a huge pop festival style stage on which we usually have our own slot. We spend a long, musically filled, delicious weekend in Hennef that is truly shattering but worth every minute. We come back very happy at having spent such an enjoyable time in the company of likeminded people.
Impromptu are perhaps not your typical choir as we come as more of a family really. We know each other very well, in many cases having been quite close friends for many years. Being a small choir it is essential that we work as a team because, as I have already said, it is as much about listening as it is about singing. We are also entertainers and because we know each other so well there is sometimes a level of camaraderie that can be missing in larger groups, this can be seen to take place in some performances and this fun sometimes bleeds into the audience too… which people seem to like! After all music is to be enjoyed by all.
Does this sound like something you would like to be part of? If so, please email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Alan Cooper, Impromptu.
2018, Your Letterbox