Rediscovering our voice

Enfield Choral Society is returning with its first live performance in over two years, writes Ian MacKenzie

Enfield Choral Society performing at St Stephen's Church in Bush Hill Park (credit Waldek Godel)
Enfield Choral Society performing before the pandemic at St Stephen’s Church in Bush Hill Park (credit Waldek Godel)

Choir membership combines the joy of learning music and singing together – in soprano, alto, tenor and bass parts – with the excitement of performing.

The pandemic devastated both aspects. Before Covid-19, who’d have thought of singing as ‘risky’?

To give members of Enfield Choral Society something akin to a routine during lockdown, the internet was our only option.

Thanks to musical director Mark Sproson’s technological skills, the choir moved almost seamlessly to Zoom rehearsals in March 2020. The internet delay (different for every participant!) makes rehearsing remotely quite an achievement. Singing to a screen, unable to hear your fellow singers’ voices, is not the choral experience we know and love.

But Mark’s ingenuity, in providing a varied programme, proved the key to success. Some weeks we learned choral arrangements of well-known songs, others we sang alongside professional recordings of major works. Such sessions were interspersed with a wide range of fascinating talks by professional musicians.

Within remote rehearsals, we introduced extended breaks, giving more opportunity to chat than during ‘normal’ rehearsals. We took advantage of Zoom to invite former members back, enabling catch-ups from across the country. Our most notable highlight was our Christmas 2020 concert (still available to watch on YouTube) created from individual voice recordings. Other achievements included a valuable sight-singing course and several much-enjoyed quizzes.

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After some 15 months on Zoom, in September 2021 regular live rehearsals – with stringent precautions and live-streaming – recommenced. Happily, since then some members unable to attend remotely have returned. We produced a memorable live ‘Opera Choruses’ concert in November.

Our celebration of female composers this month was originally scheduled for March 2020. The works included span ten centuries and nine composers, many of whom lacked acknowledgement and survived as musicians against the odds.

Nineteenth century composers Fanny Hensel and Clara Wieck are known chiefly by their famous male-composer relatives’ names (Mendelssohn and Schumann respectively). Compositions by modern composers include Magnificat by Cecilia McDowall, who we’ve featured previously. Perhaps the most unusual piece is Janet Wheeler’s The Ceaseless Round of Circling Planets, featuring a waterphone – an intriguing percussion instrument!.

Our interim musical director, ex-G4 tenor Ben Thapa, will sing Claire Filer’s setting for him of Tennyson’s Charge of the Light Brigade. Claire will be our soprano soloist and Mark (despite being on sabbatical) will sing in a quartet and play the waterphone in what promises to be an evening to remember.

Enfield Choral Society performs ‘Women Composers: Past and Present’ at 7.30pm on Saturday, 19th March at St Paul’s Church, Church Hill, Winchmore Hill N21 1JA. Advance booking only; tickets are £14 for adults, £7 under 25s in full-time education. For more information:
07793 082 991
Email [email protected]

If you are interested in joining the choir:
[email protected]

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