Talking about singing - Lizzy Franks

Submitted by huw on Wed, 03/27/2024 - 11:40

Soprano Lizzy Franks is returning to sing Verdi’s Requiem with Royston Choral Society after a 22 year break from the choir. She explains why.

Why do you like singing?

It’s good for you – singing uses the whole body and it’s good for stress levels and mental health - I can feel my mood dropping when I can’t sing because I’ve got a cold or something. On the other hand, whether it’s singing in the shower or in a choir, it can massively lift your mood. Singing is good for the soul. It’s fun, a challenge and, if you don’t know a piece well, it’s rewarding when it all comes together.

Why do you like singing in a choir?

It’s sociable – there’s something special about coming together with others to sing. It’s collaborative and what you make together is slightly different each time. Our rehearsals and performance are live, real (even if not very often perfect!) but when you get it right it gives you tingles.

In a choir you often sing some pieces you don’t know – it’s good to be exposed to new things you might not know (or even like too much!) when you start out. I remember a Remembrance Sunday concert at Wodson Park in Ware – we performed a Karl Jenkins’ composition [The Armed Man] It was the first time I’d sung his work and I realised it was quite something - I would never have learnt that piece otherwise.

Did you have a musical upbringing?

Yes - there was always music in our house, I probably started singing as soon as I could talk – in the car, in the house, at church. My parents sang and I think you absorb it. I learnt music through playing instruments from aged six or seven and singing in school choirs and playing in orchestras. The people I’m still in touch with from my school days are all people I did music with – the shared history and shared experience creates a special bond.

I think I first started singing with Royston Choral Society when I was 14 or 15, when I was studying GCSE music. I suppose I was ticking a box at first and then fell in love with it! I left the choir when I went to university where my course was full on (and at the other end of the country!) I also wanted to try other things – my life had been filled with a lot of music up until then! Then teacher training and being new to teaching was very demanding and there wasn’t much time for singing in choirs.

In 2010, ill health intervened and I didn’t have the energy to do rehearsals or concerts. A few years ago I re-joined the church choir, but it’s only reducing my working hours since Christmas that I’ve got more energy, and I’ve realised singing in RCS and making rehearsals are now do-able.

How are you viewing the upcoming concert?

I’ve sung Verdi’s Requiem a couple of times before, with a university choir in Durham Cathedral, and with Royston Choral Society at Thaxted. I haven’t sung with a large audience for many years, so I’m really excited. I’ve learnt so much in half a dozen rehearsals with Andrew [Andrew O’Brien, RCS Musical Director] – it’s like each one is a singing lesson, and he’s very patient!

I don’t feel scared about the performance because I know it’s not just about me – if there are bits where I’m less confident I can just sing a bit quieter! I find the choir amazingly supportive – everybody has been so friendly and welcoming – the social side is really important; it’s more than a choir rehearsal.

I think people should come to the Verdi concert, even if they’re not into classical music - it’s a spectacular piece. Helping on the door at past RCS concerts, I’ve overheard people, who may have been dragged along by to choir members, saying afterwards how pleasantly surprised they’ve been!