A Punter’s Perspective
Random observations on the wide, weird world of folk from the side of the stage
#6 Sing! Sing! Sing!
First published in Trad and Now magazine, October 2007
By Bill Quinn
When you front up to any given festival, you’ve generally got a fair idea of who’s on the bill. And yet, one of those grand moments of the settling-in period, after you’ve been tagged and show-bagged, is to scan the program for your favourites. Pen in hand, there are those tantalising moments of deflowering virgin program pages with flowing strokes of biro circles around the tried, the trusted and the ‘man, you just gotta see’ acts.
Conversely, there may be other acts or genres that you zip over, or choose to ignore, or even scratch a dismissive mark through. (The author will refrain from venturing examples here as his insurance definitely doesn’t cover such off the cuff observations.)
For this punter, anything that had ‘choir’ in the title was always a category to avoid like the fugue. However, one of the true joys of many, many discoveries over the last few years has been to admire the wonders of the massed one-to-four part harmonies of many voices.
Community choirs, singing groups, singing sessions, and the big daddy of them all (or many of them): the festival choir. There’s a sweet science behind the process of putting several to several hundred voices into beauteous harmony, but to the punter, it’s just a chance to let one’s jaw drop to the canvas, their eyes roll back in sheer aural ecstasy, and to feel the very hairs up the back of their necks stand out in perpendicular, involuntary admiration.
Festival choirs have become a mainstay of many festivals, and they’re well worth seeking out. In smaller festivals, it helps when they’re seeded by established choirs, but after that, it’s open to all comers, because many of the festival support staff, volunteers and even paying punters are closet warblers.
As a friend said many years ago, and it’s stuck to the point of my adopting the phrase, ‘Do I sing? Sure. I give daily concerts in the shower and in the car!’ Continue reading