Climb every mountain - David Witty
As tenor David Witty approaches his first anniversary with Royston Choral Society (RCS), we asked him about his experience so far.
1. What was your first interest in singing?
I joined my local church choir (North Ferriby, East Yorkshire) when I was about seven and learned to read music through them. It was a good size group – 20 to 30 regulars with about a dozen choirboys. I was never a great singer but learned lots of music and as my voice broke (fairly gently) I migrated down through alto to tenor - where I stopped because choirs are always short of tenors! I stayed until my mid-teens when I had too many competing interests to devote time to it. No one else in my family sings in a choir but all of us like singing and several family members (though not me sadly) are accomplished multi-instrumentalists and have had their own bands.
2. Have you sung with choirs in the past
In the church choir, the music was the usual mix of hymns, psalms and occasional anthems but our choir master was very keen on madrigals so I learned singing in pasts very early. We also learned some Latin pieces and it was also my first introduction to the music of Benjamin Britten. At Christmas we would roam around the village singing carols to raise money for the organ fund, and once a year we would travel to York Minster for the music festival where we would take part in a concert with dozens of other choirs - always an exciting adventure for a choirboy. At secondary school I sang in the school choir, including a number of longer pieces - Bach’s St Matthew's Passion for example.
3. How did you find out about RCS, what was the appeal?
Before my wife and I moved to Royston I had considered singing in a choir and had been asked to join but because of long commuting times felt I couldn’t make the commitment. Once in Royston I hadn’t got that excuse (I mainly work from home or south Cambridge) and in the autumn of 2018 we attended a concert at which there was an appeal for new members. I wanted to join in a community activity so RCS seemed like a good bet - besides I imagined it would fun to sing some carols in a choir again - little did I know I was heading straight for the deep end with Britten’s War Requiem.
4. What has been your experience with RCS so far? I was impressed by the friendly welcome I received and the commitment to excellence in a very challenging piece. I was relieved to find singers of all capabilities and levels of experience so I didn’t feel too far out of place – ‘though it is taking a while to get back up to speed with the music reading after a gap of so many years .
5. What have been the best moments for you?
When I first started the War Requiem I didn’t like it at all, but by the time we came to the concert I had grown to really like it and was very pleased to be part of a dramatic and moving event. That said, the Christmas concert was great fun and convivial. I was sad not to be able to join the April concert due to a long-standing family commitment.
6. What would be your advice to anyone thinking of joining RCS (or any other choir…)?
Give it a go - no one is going to laugh at you and you’ll probably enjoy it, even if the pieces seem challenging at first!