Songs of Protest


Back in the day, when you went on a march through London – something I did a lot of in my youth, starting with the march against the Corrie Bill, and moving on to Section 28, the Police Bill, Anti-Nuclear marches with CND, Reclaim the Night, anti-cuts marches with various unions, Lesbian Strength, Gay Pride (back when it was really a political march not a fun day out) …gosh so many marches – anyway, way back then, we used to SING, and in local protests more recently (library under threat,  arts venue funding being cut, entire hospital threatened with closure) we’ve gone out and sung too.

I’ve been on a few marches recently, the political climate having taking a heave to the right, and feeling the need to do some shouting in public, but no one is singing anymore.

Why NOT?

There is a fantastic tradition of protest songs, and they are (Usually, from necessity) easy to sing and easy to remember.

And they are fun too.

I’ve been suggesting we do a season of protest songs at Vocal Chords, my regular choir for a couple of years and we have finally done it. I’m not entirely sure how I feel about protest songs in perfect harmony in a church – they should really be rough round the edges and raucous, and full of joy and anger and defiance, and most importantly – outside! However, I’ll take what I can get.

Come and have a listen!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Saturday 1st April 7pm for 7.30

Holy Trinity Church, 66 Lennard Road SE20 7LX

£7 on the door in aid of Wheels for Wellbeing.

Reprising at Brockley Max festival Sunday June 4th 3.30pm at St Hilda’s Church Courtrai Road SE4.

Orpheus and Eurydice at the Platform


Orpheus & EurydiceCome and watch/listen to English Pocket Opera Company‘s production of Gluck’s masterpiece, Orpheus & Eurydice. 21st – 26th January, at
the Platform Theatre,
Central St Martin’s,
Handyside Street
King’s Cross
London N1C 4AA
Short sharp and sweet, we’ll take you to hell and back, with the eccentric story of Orpheus I don’t think I will be accused of plot spoilers when I say that it is an opera that starts with a funeral and ends with a wedding. Love overcomes all. (Sigh).

We get to sing that immortal line Cerbrus the dog of Hell will crush your bones as well, (I keep wanting to sing crunch your bones, but will resist on the day, promise.) This is one of my top five favourite operas and has some of the best tunes in the history of the western world … how can you resist?

Weekday matinees it’s children in the chorus, Weekend, and the weekday evenings it’s amateur adults.

Each scene is designed by a different set designer, and its going to be innovative and entertaining. Come and enjoy.

tickets from the box office

Singing and ringing and feeling like christmas


So: Saturday was a singing day, 3 hours or so, rehearsing, performing, singing with the audience, interspersed with beer at the lovely Ivy House.

We like to have a theme or a project for Vocal Chords, in the summer it was love songs for the planet, this autumn  it has been folk carols, learnt from Lester Simpson and dragged out of our collective record collections and memories, and performed with gusto!

The arrangements sound quite complex and the parts can get a little  competitive as to who can sing loudest, but they are actually quite simple so long as you can keep in time.

Here is a sample, my absolute favourite of the songs we sang, although it is a hard, hard choice, as I loved all of them!

This is the definition of Joyous, for me, cynical old atheist though I am.

And then Sunday we were selling Arachne Press books at a christmas market at the delightful Alexandra Nurseries (still singing under our breaths, both ‘Curly Hark’ and snatches of Britten’s St Nicholas, mostly ‘landlord take this piece of gold, bring us meat before the cold’although we weren’t cold, thanks to our lined walking trousers, winter coats, hats mittens, long-johns…) It was a very jolly day, good weather and plenty of punters.

SO apart from all the events we are going to and taking part in over the next week – Liars’ League Snow & Stars tomorrow, Story Sessions Wednesday, (where I am reading as well as compereing)The ‘work’ xmas party with my fellow WooA writers,  and christmas shopping at Brockley Xmas market & the £3 christmas bazaar and enjoying V G Lee and Rose Collis’ drollery at Bah Humbuggers (Dyke the Halls) on Saturday – all spare time is going on rehearsing for St Nicholas, which we are singing at Blackheath Halls in the Christmas Concert on Friday 20th

St Nicolas posterand for our Carol Singing in aid of Shelter with Summer All Year Long around Brockley, Honor Oak and Forest Hill on Saturday 21st.

final stop the station

final stop the station

 

Oh the weeping and the wailing


The trouble with having a brilliant time at Blackheath Halls prancing about singing is that inevitably it comes to an end. The party helps make the break, and it was good to hear from orchestra members how much they enjoyed the process too, and either wanted to know what on earth we did to Macbeth (because seated with back to action) or admiring the way we faded into the darkness as assassins (which we didn’t know we were doing.) Also good to chat to everyone and say thank you properly for what has been the best opera yet, and the bar was high already. I am unreservedly proud to have been part of this production, thank you Nick, Chris and Rose (and everyone else) for making it such a joy.

Having lots for the chorus to sing really gave us the freedom to show what we are capable of – even the drunken spoofs at the party were in proper harmony this year, (if not absolutely the right key) usually I feel sorry for Rose’s neighbours.

Undertakers convention in Kiev

Undertakers convention in Kiev

Howsoever, very glad not to be donning black polo-neck, combat trousers, heavy boots and woolly hat today – all that stuff is on the washing line, it looks like we’ve just got back from an undertakers convention in Kiev.

I can’t settle to work today so I’ve made a vat of Gazpacho (too much to fit in the fridge, which is going to be a problem…) and started sifting through the nearly 3000 photographs from Lena Kern (official photographer this year) They are absolutely brilliant, and there are actually several of me this year, usually (apart from the year Tony Stewart did the photographs) there’s only  one or two. I will post my favourites later. The accounts can be put off for (yet) another day.

There is a groundswell of opinion amongst the chorus and some audience members that we ought to have recorded the performance. Nick, if you are reading this – maybe we could at least get the chorus back together and just do our numbers? Guaranteed 60 sales!

© Cherry Potts 2013

Macbeth does Murder Sleep


Being part of an opera plays havoc with your sleep (and eating) patterns. I’m a bit of a homebody normally (although running a publishing venture has changed that a bit – schlepping about with a suitcase full of books to readings of an evening has meant my normal bedtime is now nearer midnight than it used to be) but during the opera run I find myself eating lunch at 4pm, supper at midnight (or later) go to bed still zinging with excitement, with the music roaring round my brain … not asleep before 2am … but come what may I’m awake again at 6am, which means not a lot of work gets done, because I need a bit of a lie down by 2pm which usually means I crash for a couple of hours. Of course today its a matinée so we are planning brunch for about 11, then there’s food at the after-party, so that’s sorted, but sleep … when will that happen?

Macbeth doth Murder sleep.

I’m not complaining: I’d rather sing than sleep, but there will definitely be a period of readjustment required, a diet of folk music (or anything really just not Opera) to calm me down, a gradual return to more normal meal times, support group meetings with fellow opera withdrawal sufferers … I suppose the words can come off the kitchen walls now. And the poster out of the window, oh dear!

How weary, stale, flat, and unprofitable
Seem to me all the uses of this world!

but that’s a different play.

© Cherry Potts 2013

Mini Last Night of the Proms at Blackheath Halls


I regard Blackheath Halls as an extension of my home, despite being a good twenty-minute car journey away. For about half the year I spend at least one evening a week there, singing; we had the party for our civil partnership there, and I am happy to turn up to be in the audience on a fairly regular basis.

The latest morsel of delight is a mini Last Night at the Proms, featuring some of my favourite collaborators from  Blackheath Halls Operas – Grant Doyle (La Boheme, The Elixir of Love, Cinderella) and Nicholas Sharratt (Elixir, Eugene Onegin).  Both great singers and lovely friendly people who treat us amateurs like equals. For some reason I cannot fathom, tickets are not exactly flying out of the computer – are people sated with Proms? Or is it just that you need the behemoth marketing skills of the BBC to promote this kind of thing? My totally biased opinion is that anything Grant and Nick are in has to be a good thing, and I don’t want to be doing a Henry V speech about we happy few.

So if you don’t want to be thinking yourselves accursed you were not there… phone the box office!

The Singing Season


Not that the singing season ever went away, it’s a bit like football, the break gets shorter all the time; but we didn’t do Sing for Water this year because of A’s broken leg, so larynx and lungs feeling a bit under used.

So the good news is that Raise the Roof is back next week, and we’ve already started Summer All Year Long back into a regular schedule (although it may be disrupted by Arachne Press activities – or not, actually as some of the repertoire is London songs with the thought that we might have a musical interlude at some of the readings.) And we’ve signed up to sing the Vivaldi Gloria for the annual Christmas spectacular at Blackheath Halls, where rumour has it Wendy Dawn Thompson will be joining us as one of the soloists.  We love Wendy, she is great fun to sing with. I’ve already bumped into two people we sing with whilst doing the rounds of bookshops and venues for readings of London Lies, and anticipation is running high!

Plans are also afoot for another workshop with Lester Simpson of Coope, Boyes & Simpson for 1st December, and on a consumption front we are booked to go to the ‘Last Night of the Mini Proms’ where the lovely and talented Messrs Grant Doyle and Nick Sharratt with whom we have sung on numerous occassions, are singing (amongst other things) the Pearl Fishers Duet, which will be distinctly lush.

© Cherry Potts 2012

Blackheath Cendrillon: A slipper and a ring


L.C. here.  This is my last post on behalf of Cherry.  She says I’ve behaved very irresponsibly and I am lucky not to have been had up in front of the Leveson Enquiry.  Anyway, I’m feeling a bit crest-fallen because I didn’t find out who the mystery woman was first after all.

But I was there, when it happened at least, and yes, I know I wasn’t supposed to take pictures, because Harriet’s lot had an exclusive; but, what the hell, might as well be hung for a sheep as a lamb, eh?

What a turn up!  Who knew that the ghastly Haltiere woman had another daughter?  How did they hide her from the cameras?  Harriet says they thought she was a servant (in the Haltiere household read that as slave) and no-one, not even her Dad, recognised her until she took her shoes off – the heels weren’t that high.  Madame H nearly ruined my pictures blocking everything out with her giant hat.

So, anyway, Lucette de la Haltiere is our new queen. Charming looks pleased, and the King frankly, relieved.  I know you didn’t hear it here first or anything, but it’s still rather remarkable.

Sadly everything in this blog, even Elsie (yes it is Elsie, not L.C. no matter what she says) is entirely imaginary.  Thanks to Jules Massenet and his collaborators, including Harry Fehr for the inspiration of the Blackheath Halls Community Opera production of Cinderella (Cendrillon) You can read reviews of the production here and here, but the run is over, so that’s it til next year, apart from those involved in the work who get together in September to start planning … Purcell, anyone?

© Cherry Potts 2012