My earliest musical memories include listening to Family Favourites on the radio and records that my parents played to my brother and me, which included The Nutcracker, Peter and the Wolf and The Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra. My parents both played the piano and sang, and my brother and I inherited the musical gene – he is a very talented composer in the English early 20th Century style. I may be slightly biased, but a few years ago he won a national composing competition and one of the prizes was a tutorial with Judith Weir, Master of the Queen’s Music.
When congratulated on their success, you often hear individual sporting winners saying ‘it was a team effort’. The success of our first Royston Choral Society for two years - in Standon on 11th December - was very much down to the combined effort of many people; a large number working behind the scenes.
Ann Hoptroff is an alto singer with Royston Choral Society and was a soloist at our recent concert in Standon. Below she shares her musical influences.
My love of singing started as a child. Being one of 11 children, our home was always full of music - from pop to classical. I sang in the church choir on a Sunday at Mass in the morning and benediction in the afternoon.
Did you know that singing can give you the same ‘high’ as cannabis, and help chronic pain? It can boost sporting performance and immune systems even if you ‘can’t sing well’. The benefit comes for as little as five minutes a day (in the shower if you’re not ‘a natural’?) over a few weeks.
These and other intriguing snippets come from a 15-minute BBC Radio podcast.
The programme also talks about the power of listening to music – so come to our next concert!
For RCS choir members, the pandemic and the enforced suspension of rehearsals just days before our last public performance more than 18 months ago was a bitter blow. Our return to ‘live rehearsals’ has confirmed that many have missed the human connection that music can bring almost as much as the music itself.
As choir members returned to rehearsals after the enforced break, there was no doubt some apprehension about the work necessary to get our voices back into shape. Despite the excellent online tuition that we enjoyed from our Musical Director, Andrew O’Brien, while in lockdown, our first rehearsals were a nervous occasion for some, but the breathing and other warm-up exercises at the start of each rehearsal have been very valuable.
I joined Royston Choral Society in 2007 after a rather mixed singing career taking in school choirs, musicals, Bart’s Hospital Choral Society, and ad hoc church congregations. I liked the structure and atmosphere of RCS: the weekly rehearsals, three concerts a year, fantastic music, and man-banter with the other tenors. The people were lovely all round, and many became good friends.
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