KFC the Opera

A refreshingly honest account from one of our lovely tenors.

Finding this choir has been serendipitous - singing once a week has kept me sane.
— Fiona Smith

I've always sung. My Dad, a great music fan, was a Morris dancer, and I grew up encouraged to listen, sing and dance. At two I wrote the classic song "Willy Cat" (about our cat, Willum, Willy to his friends, obvs). At work I've always sung about what I'm doing to the delight/despair of my colleagues. From "KFC the Opera", to songs that got me through military exercises in the field. I sing to the present house cats, ripping off Morcombe and Wise ("Bring me Thomas, bring me Sam"). They like it. I think.

I've sung in a choir of sorts on and off from the age of ten, and sung tenor parts since about fifteen, when I met another girl tenor and found I preferred that part. I've written poetry and the odd song, occasionally with accompaniment. But, despite this love (including karaoke in Japan) I'm incredibly shy about sharing what I've written, and rather shy about singing alone. I'm not a great fan of hearing other people singing (they have to be pretty good!). But singing in a choir - allows me to sing at my absolute best. I'm braver and better. I rely upon others (perhaps they rely upon me too). I sing with a confidence and clarity that I couldn't command on my own. 

Why sing? At best, silly sundry worries dissipate, and it provides the ultimate therapy. A balm to soothe all troubles. At "worst", it's still a great evening with friends, hearing music previously unknown, pushing the limits of my singing ability. I can read music but its not essential; within the choir we move and shift together. The right notes become second nature.

Finding this choir has been some kind of wonderful. I've made remarkably close friends, pushed my singing abilities and discovered new music. I've moved house and job in the last year, and become very fond of south west London. However, that's not been without its challenges. Finding this choir has been serendipitous - singing once a week has kept me sane. 

Why sing with us? We're lovely. Well, we're my kind of lovely which could be your kind of lovely - find out?

Fiona works at a think tank. Read her profile here!

Great Harmonies & Accidentally Hitting People..

Josie, one of our wonderful sopranos, shares a bit about her musical background and her thoughts on the first Real Voices session.

Since I was at school, I have always enjoyed partaking in musical activities (choir, musicals, competitions etc.). The first choir I joined after school was 'Voci dal Mondo' in Perugia, Italy. Voci dal Mondo - or - Voices of the World - is literally what the choir was: a bunch of people from countries around the world singing in different languages.

I moved to London about 3 years ago and I intended to find a choir, but, life just kept getting in the way. Studying. Working. Renovating. Four Moves. Personal projects. Etc. For a while, my musical outlet was the occasional jam with mates, but eventually I craved something more structured. I recently went in search of a local choir: a somewhat frustrating experience. These were held in small venues and though the directors were bubbly and the musical arrangements were quite simple, the sound the director elicited from the singers was mostly jumbled! I soon gave up and pursued other activities (more like commitments to further flat renovation and a second job!).

I think after a couple of weeks of Real Voices, I will find it difficult to imagine not being part of a choir.
— Josie

Literally the month my life calms down a bit, I get a message from my ridiculously-super-musical friend (Becky) saying she's starting a choir. A SIGN! 

Upon my arrival to Real Voices - session 1, the first thing I noticed was how approachable everyone was. There was even a guy making tea for everyone (thanks Jonathan). Once we were all settled, Becky began the session. I should mention that I have known Becky since high school, and her comical, excitable, friendly manner had not changed a bit! 

We started with some warm ups that left me laughing and accidentally hitting people I had just met (I'll have to concentrate harder on the actual warm up next time!). Our first piece, by Fleet Foxes, was taught by earrather than sight reading. This was rather refreshing for me, as I don't really read music. Next was a track by Paolo Nutini. I am not a huge fan of Paolo Nutini, but since last week I have played this particular song a million times and it is becoming a favourite song of mine. We ended on a high note (particularly the tenors/basses!) with an upbeat Peter Gabriel number, leaving everyone in a good mood. To top it all off, there was some serious face scoffing of delicious carrot cake that Tricia made; there was enough for about 30 people and I even smuggled an extra slice for myself! Face scoffage was followed by a quick trip to the pub for post choir drinks where everyone chatted to everyone; the good mood infectious. 

Session 1 certainly had a lot of a lot of singing (obviously), a lot of giggles and a lot of nice sounds. The two hours flew by, and in a small about of time, progress was certainly palpable. The musical arrangements were great: all parts were given different components of the song, so there is a very satisfying degree of variation and challenge for each part (ie. each part gets a go at the good bits!) With clear direction from Becky, the harmonies were coming together very nicely! 

I think after a couple of weeks of Real Voices, I will find it difficult to imagine not being part of a choir. 

Josie is a Built Heritage Consultant and part-time illustrator. If you like the sound of what you've read, why not get in touch and join us for a session?

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