Whew! We've got there...! ...at last... ...Day 12 !!! We've arrived at the very last blog of The 12 Blogs of New Year 2020, Norwich's Phoenix Male Voice Choir's antidote to withdrawal symptoms following the end of The 12 Days of Christmas!!!
It always seems strange that in the gloomy days of mid-ish winter, we take down the very decorations that have brightened things up for the previous weeks! It's actually good to see the number of the small pockets of 'decs' which are still on display in places. But the '12 Blogs' are all about brightening things up too, be those things our personal moods, spirits, well-being, and so on. So our theme for our final day is very close to 'home' to improve those things and this final blog will still be the gift that keeps on giving.
It's the final blog of our 12, so it's a great excuse to make a weekend of it and have a bit of a celebration! It is our 10th Anniversary Year, after all! Well, our Day 12 theme is: singing! OK, you're not surprised, but you are wise folk, so we're not surprised that you're not surprised, and we're not surprised you guessed our final theme!!!
We're a Choir, so singing is what we do! But it's not just 'any old' singing for us, it's got to be male choral singing... ...we divide our membership group into 4 different clusters of men who share similar levels of singing voice. When you look at us onstage, our highest voices (Tenor 1) are on the left and our lowest voices (Bass 2) are on the right, and everyone graduates in between, depending upon whether their singing voice is higher (Tenor 2, left centre) or lower (Bass 1, right centre). It's this division of voice textures, along with some skilfully written music which gives each of our voice parts different notes (and quite often different words...) to sing, which gives male choral singing and the Male Voice Choir its distinctive sound. Our mission is to give you, the general public of Norwich and of Norfolk, the chance to hear a Male Voice Choir live, and to add to the body of understanding and enjoyment of choral singing in the County.
Now, Men, if you think that there's a place within our Singing Men for you, we still have our rehearsal doors open at 7.30pm on the next two Thursdays, so just come along! If you don't know whether singing is for you, then our Open Rehearsals are an idea chance to give it a try...! ...No Charge, No Audition, No Obligation. Stay and join us, or ride off into the proverbial sunset - it's entirely your choice!
Otherwise, our Singing Men (not in the least forgetting our Accompanist Jason and lady Musical Director Sarah!) give you their greatest gift (...well, OK, you do still need to buy a ticket...), and that gift is the chance to hear live male choral song!!! We have six Concerts lined up for our special year - three at our 'home base' and 3 around Norfolk - and we hope you can make one or more of them! It will be great to see you in 2020!
Speaking of which, for our final blog, we offer a special (and additional...) gift and we've tagged it onto the end of our song to finish our 12 Blogs of New Year. If you have avidly kept up with us over all 12, then thank you! We hope you'll keep checking our website and social media platforms for what we are getting up to during the year! For you, indulging in our finished verse of our final ditty will be easy peasy for you!
Otherwise, to the tune of The 12 Days of Christmas, with an additional 'partridge' bit in the final blog, everybody join in now! Ready? 1, 2, 3:
"In the 12th Blog of New Year, 'The Phoenix' gave to me:
Male Choral Singing,
Level Minded Piping,
Ten Nyrrhs are Needed,
Nine Days' Revision,
It's a 'Made Up' Man Thing,
Serene Swans a-Swimming,
See Geezers Playing,
Five Sing-ing Live!
For Auld Lang Syne,
Three Hearty Cheers,
To All Men an Invite and
A Calendar with Dates we can see!
And Best Wi-shes for Twenty-Twen-teee!!!"
We thang yew!
It's late, very late... ...in fact Day 11 in our series of New Year blogs to celebrate the start of New Year 2020, the new decade and the start of our 10th Anniversary Year. In the process, we hope you have had a bit of an insight into our first 10 years and have enjoyed a glimpse at what's going on at the moment in the life of Norwich's Phoenix Male Voice Choir!
And that's the point of our Day 11 message - as a Choir, our rehearsal endeavours are all rather pointless if we don't keep our audience and supporters in touch with what is going on and don't keep our singing membership at the centre of our plans. That's why we try to be level minded about the various ways we communicate with everyone and why we are 'piping up' about it! So, you should know the drill by now... ...everyone, on the count of 3...! ...a-1, 2, 3:
"In the 11th Blog of New Year, 'The Phoenix' gave to me: Level Minded Piping, Ten Nyrrhs are Needed, Nine Days' Revision, It's a 'Made Up' Man Thing, Serene Swans a-Swimming, See Geezers Playing - Five Sing-ing Live - For Auld Lang Syne, Three Hearty Cheers, To All Men an Invite and A Calendar with Dates we can see!"
Here's a rundown of the various locations of where information about us is currently available:
If there is a better way to communicate with you, as a potential audience, as a group of men, or as a lover of choral song, please do let us know! We'd like to contact you in the way you prefer!
Can't believe it...! ...just Day 12 to go!!!
We're back with our Day 10 blog of the 12 Blogs of New Year! After a day off, you say? No! Yesterday was all about revising what we had done so far (OK, partially inspired by blogging so late on 'real' Day 9...) and we hope you have found the reminders and additional links useful! But day off...? No! It's a bit like 'reading week' at Uni... ...not a 'week off', but just a week without lectures to catch your breath, catch up with things, and revise what's happened so far! And let's face it, if you were up-to-date with reading our series of blogs, then you more than fully deserve your chance to catch breath!
So, here we are then... ...double figures at last... ...Day 10!
Yes, we knew it...! ...you're all clicking on 'spellcheck' as you read... ...muttering... ...what is 'nyrrh'...? ...did they mean 'nyrrh'...? ...was it a throwback to Christmas and they meant 'myrrh'...? Anyway, nyrrh, myrrh, whatever, why do they need them...???!!!
Well, let's sing up, and metaphorically reveal all!!! It's the 12 Days of Christmas tune folks, so 1, 2, 3:
"In the 10th Blog of New Year, 'The Phoenix' gave to me: Ten Nyrrhs are Needed, Nine Days' Revision, (quickly!) It's a 'Made Up' Man Thing, Serene Swans a-Swimming, See Geezers Playing - (like 5 Gold Rings!) Five Sing-ing Live - For Auld Lang Syne, Three Hearty Cheers, (quick here, too!) To All Men an Invite and A Calendar with Dates we can see!"
So, our Open Rehearsals are currently on - when we throw open our Mile Cross rehearsal doors to non-member men so they can have a 'listen around' to how we are preparing for our 10th Anniversary Year in general and our 2020 Spring Season in particular, as well as get to freely see behind the scenes of a male voice choir without charge, audition or obligation.
All men are warmly welcomed tonight, and on the next two Thursday evenings, at 7.30pm at our rehearsal base. If you are a man at a loose end on Thursday evenings, or know a man who is at a loose end on Thursday evenings, point them in our direction. You (and They) will be equally welcome whatever your singing experience (if any) and whatever you know, or think you know, or don't know(!), what your voice range is. We have more Basses than Tenors at the moment, but that's not an issue, so don't be put off! It will just be helpful to have the different voices in numerical balance!
So, that's our Day 10 theme focus, then - Basses are welcome, but Tenors are needed! See you tonight, or sometime later in January.
)Whew, it's some going, having to write 12 days of [hopefully...] entertaining blogs which are interesting enough for you to have learnt something about our Choir...!
With Day 9 today of our 12 Blogs of New Year, we are three-quarters of the way through our series, so what better idea then, than to have a bit of a Catch-Up??? Yes, folks, it's Day 9 Revision Time!!!
Everybody in, then! You know what happens by now - we sing about the ninth day to the tune of The 12 Days of Christmas and incorporate all the days we have had so far. So, here goes! a-1, 2, 3:
"In the 9th Blog of New Year, 'The Phoenix' gave to me: Nine Days' Revision, It's a 'Made Up' Man Thing, Serene Swans a-Swimming, See Geezers Playing - Five Sing-ing Live - For Auld Lang Syne, Three Hearty Cheers, To All Men an Invite and A Calendar with Dates we can see!"
Phew - tired just thinking about it! But we have covered some really good ground in our previous 8 blogs... ...and if you click on the links, you get some more information!!! (www.norwichphoenixmvc.org/stop-press-blog)
On Day 1: A Calendar - Brand new for New Year and our 10th Anniversary Year 2020, you can now find all our events, all in one place, on our Website Home Page Calendar (http://www.NorwichPhoenixMVC.org)
On Day 2: An Invitation - At the start of our new Singing Season, we open our rehearsal doors to non-members and invite all Men to call into our home base at Mile Cross for 7.30pm each Thursday in January and come to our Open Rehearsals! Have a free look around behind the scenes at how we do things - No Charge, No Audition, No Obligation (www.norwichphoenixmvc.org/sing-with-us.html)
On Day 3: 3 Cheers for the Past 10 Years! - A brief review of our Founding Moments and who we have to thank 10 years later! (www.norwichphoenixmvc.org/we-are-phoenix.html)
On Day 4: For Auld Lang Syne... - A look back at our membership over the years and why it is important to be a welcome home to new members... (pmvc_open_reh_10th_anniv_year.jpg)
On Day 5: Five Singing Live! - not just the fact that all of our members can sing in all of our concerts, but that within our membership, there is a broad spectrum of different types of singer with different reasons for wanting to sing with us, and all are equally welcomed within our ranks!!! (july_2019_concert_phoenix__7_.jpg)
On Day 6: Can You Hear Our Geezers Sing??? - Of course you can, and we show you how! (www.norwichphoenixmvc.org/see-us-sing-in-2020.html)
On Day 7: Are Established Members 'Swanning It'? - They may look like it, but what's happening below the 'waterline'? New members, or men thinking about joining us should not be put off...! This is what we do to help you find your feet (or give you webbed feet!!!) (img_20171021_102107.jpg)
On Day 8: Being Made Up! - ...with our fabulous audiences! (thank_you.png)
There! All set up for Day 10 and just two days from our second January 2020 Open Rehearsal!!!
There was plenty to say yesterday in our 7th daily blog to welcome in our 10th Anniversary Year, but we hope it was a useful read if you were either thinking about your own singing hobby, or were encouraging someone to think about theirs. Either way, January is an ideal time to get in touch. However, today, we won't need anywhere near as many words to convey our theme for Day 8 (Hurrah! you cry, Get on with it!!! - OK, I hear you...):
Today's theme is effectively 'Thank You! We're Made Up!'. So, let's all sing the Day 8 verse (care: it's another 'quick' one to start with...), then we can get on with today's message! Everybody, now, 1, 2, 3:
"In the 8th Blog of New Year, 'The Phoenix' gave to me: It's a 'Made Up' Man Thing, Serene Swans a-Swimming, See Geezers Playing - Five Sing-ing Live - For Auld Lang Syne, Three Hearty Cheers, To All Men an Invite and A Calendar with Dates we can see!"
In December 2019, we held two cracking concerts and our reports for those and their programme details will appear in our 'About Us - Past Events' pages on this very website in due course. But there is more to a cracking concert than just the Choir itself being very good (even if that was true, which of course it was!!!). We had two super audiences for a start and on both occasions, the volume of applause at the end of each concert was tremendous, so no surprise that we were fully made up both times as a result!
Singing to an audience really is the best bit of what we do and it's what makes it all worthwhile. Any singing group can practise privately for its own pleasure, but practising with the intention of entertaining a public audience which has paid for the privilege of listening to your concert is an ambition, a mission, a risk, a challenge, and an honour.
There's no real way of describing the feeling of knowing that either new audience members had attended our concert for the first time (and we hope that we will see them again at a future date), or that our regular concert-goer friends were in attendance again. Indeed, a vast amount of our 'raison d'etre' is to wish to perform male voice choral song in a live environment, and to help maintain and educate the general public in the artform. The cherry on the top of our cake is the general public's appreciation of this. So if you were in our audience at either Mile Cross or Stalham in December 2019 (or indeed any of our 2019 concerts...), we're not making it up to say we owe you and send you all a huge thank you!
In fact, by showing us at our concerts you think our rehearsal endeavours are all so worthwhile, it's our group of men who are absolutely 'made up'!!!
We hope you're enjoying our series of blogs marking the start of not just 2020, but our 10th Anniversary Year. At the same time, we're taking the opportunity to talk about life in a male voice choir, and ours in particular! It's a duty we are taking very seriously, so we are seeking commissions to turn the entire series of The Twelve Blogs of New Year 2020 into a box set for global streaming...
...so you can't say we're not setting our sights high enough!!! And setting sights high is a reminder that life in a male voice choir is a bit of a balancing act. It's a great chance though to let everyone know what we do to manage it, so that's our theme for today... ...just like a swan swimming across a peaceful and calm pond, we hope that you'll agree that our concert performances are graceful, flowing and majestic (well, as near as, anyway???). But, below the waterline, where the rehearsals, practice and gaining confidence in the pieces we are singing reside behind the scenes... ...we can't deny it, the metaphorical webbed feet are thrashing away at a rate of knots...
Yes, for Day 7, we are talking about Swanning It...! Remember to join in singing our happy refrain, but don't worry Men, it's not an audition by the back door - we definitely don't audition for choir membership or concert participation at all - ever...! So, sing up everyone - Here we go then, 1, 2, 3...
"In the 7th Blog of New Year, 'The Phoenix' gave to me: Serene Swans a-Swimming, See Geezers Playing - Five Sing-ing Live - For Auld Lang Syne, Three Hearty Cheers, To All Men an Invite and A Calendar with Dates we can see!"
We talked on Day 5 of our Choir being made up of local men with all different reasons for wanting to sing with us and it is an important part of what we do that we also attract new men as choristers by inviting non-members to our Open Rehearsals. We get then that our Open Rehearsal Guests and our newest Members may not at all be used to singing in a choir, or to how a male voice choir creates its sound by using 4-part harmony, or indeed to the prospect of singing in public which is guaranteed by us as a membership benefit.
So we know what it's like for our Guests and Newcomers to meet up with a pretty confident group of men who have been with us for perhaps some time, or maybe since we started Phoenix in 2010, or in some cases were members of other Male Voice Choirs such as our predecessors in the Norfolk Millennium MVC, colleague choristers of Bure Valley MVC and, in Welsh Mike's notable case (Noswaith dda, Mike!), Kenfig Hill & District MVC in South Wales. But we'll have no-one to become our longer-standing members if we don't support our newcomers properly, so in our membership, we promise you...
So, then, Seven 'Day 7' Reasons for Serenity when 'a-swimming above the waterline' from even our newest choristers, even if our more established choristers are just better, in reality, at looking like they are just swanning it!!!
Don't be fooled, folks...! ...it may be the weekend, but The 12 Blogs of New Year carry on regardless!
With only twelve aspects of choir life to focus on in this series of early New Year Blogs, there isn't any time to lose and we still have Days 6 to 12 to go. But no complacency, please...! ...yes, you may have listened intently at either of our Christmas Concerts in Stalham and Norwich to our version of The 12 Days of Christmas, but whilst the song itself is the inspiration for these particular witterings, they're not based upon that PARTICULAR version of the song (cue groans...). Day 6 to Day 12 it is, then!
Groan if you must, but don't forget we already know what you like! You spend enough time applauding in appreciation of it and the evidence is there for all to see below! (We promise fullsome gratitude will feature any day soon!) We know what YOU want to know is 'when can you hear our geezers sing?'... ...or to put it into Day 6 of our 'New Year based upon Christmas' theme (...Here we go! All together now!!!):
"In the 6th Blog of New Year, 'The Phoenix' gave to me: See Geezers Playing, Five Sing-ing Live (like 'Five Gold Rings'... ...gettit?), For Auld Lang Syne, Three Hearty Cheers, To All Men an Invite and A Calendar with Dates we can see!"
And your wish is our command! There are going to be 6 chances in 2020 to see our geezers playing (OK, "...hear our fine body of men singing..."...) because we are organising six of our own Concerts this Anniversary Year, two each in April, July and December 2020. We're 'at home' at Mile Cross, Norwich, in each of those months and the highspot of the year will come there in July when we celebrate our 10th Birthday with an Anniversary Gala Concert, which promises to be a very special evening. We will also be 'around and about' in wider Norfolk those same months with concerts confirmed for Aylsham and Cromer, and we hope to confirm Christmas in Ludham very shortly.
Here's where to look for details... ...you can now see our forthcoming Concert Dates in our brand new Website Home Page Calendar - just click on an item for further information - and the link in yesterday's Blog will take to straight to our 'See Us Sing In 2020' website page and the details there! You may also see one of our 2020 Anniversary Year Trifold Brochures in your local library, or in arts and entertainment brochure display areas maintained by Arts RoundUp, or in other arts and music shops and galleries. Our brochure contains not just forthcoming concert details as at the time of printing, but other features about our Choir too, including information about Open Rehearsals. Our most up-to-date information will always feature on our website.
We are so looking forward to our programme this year, and we hope that you are too! Any opportunity then to give you a chance to hear our geezers sing!
Photograph: Phoenix's MD Sarah Grimes receiving applause and flowers at the end of December's Norwich concert - courtesy Elizabeth Smallwood
Getting topics to fit into our 12 Blogs of New Year 2020 has certainly been a challenge, but one that we are up for! After all, if WE can't talk about what we have got/we are getting/we intend to get up to, then who can? But today has been such a topical challenge...
Remember, especially if you are just joining us today, that we all had The 12 Days of Christmas, which we sang about at our Christmas Concerts (yes, we know it's not in the Official Programme, but we've never been short of an added concert extra!) and which mark a sort of 'traditional' Christmas Season linked with the Western Church ending around 6th January. But what happens then? Well, that's where our series of blogs, The 12 Blogs of New Year, comes in! It's where we set our stall out for the forthcoming singing year which this year, happily, is also our 10th Anniversary Year, we having been established in 2010. And it's all done to the tune of the 12 Days of Christmas!
So, what coincides with the 'Five Gold Rings'...??? Well, of course...! (clears throat... ...all join in now!):
"In the 5th Blog of New Year, 'The Phoenix' gave to me: Five Singing Live, For Auld Lang Syne, Three Hearty Cheers, To All Men an Invite and A Calendar with Dates we can see!"
Singing Live: One of the great membership benefits we offer is that all of our Members can sing in all of our Concerts. There are no auditions or selection criteria for Choir Membership or Concert Participation and even the newest member, if they are comfortable with what they have rehearsed, will be included within our singing ranks for our next concert events. So we don't have members contributing their membership subscription, but having to sit on the sidelines... ....that's not what our Choir is about, and it never has been. That's why for our Day 5 Blog, we've got Five Singing Live representing all the different kinds of singers who make up our one Choir at any one time, and all of whom are welcomed equally:
1) Accomplished Singers: Members with a long singing heritage, perhaps with previous male voice or other choirs, other singing disciplines e.g. opera, choral societies, musical group or a band musician, and/or have vocal coaching and support.
2) Hobby Singers: Members for whom singing is an active pastime, so are likely to be members of several choirs, or choirs of different formats e.g. community choirs, mixed choirs, informal choirs, etc., as relaxation or a hobby, perhaps with other family members too.
3) Social Singers: Members who like singing and being part of the group, who enjoy the camaraderie and sense of belonging by regularly meeting up at rehearsals, etc., and participating in concert performances.
4) Bathtub and Shower Singers: Members who know they enjoy following a melody and are interested in singing, but are now going on to enjoy practising the additional formality and structure of choral singing as a new skill.
5) New Singers: Members who have only just considered taking up singing, perhaps because they had been wrongly told in the past they 'couldn't sing', or they never realised they could sing, and/or because they are attracted by the body of information supporting the benefits to personal well-being of singing as part of an organised group. It's amazing how many times we and other choirs have heard that the most competent members were once told they 'couldn't sing'...
So then, you lucky people, where do you get to see 'Five Singing Live'? Just click on the link to see what's coming up in 2020 at a certain male voice choir near you! www.norwichphoenixmvc.org/see-us-sing-in-2020.html
Here we are again for Day 4 of our blog series The 12 Blogs of New Year 2020 and we are back where we were last week by thinking not only about the New Year and the possibilities it holds for our current Chorister cohort, but about those we remember who made our previous times and years what they were. So today is a good old-fashioned New Year's reflection for old times' sake...:
Here comes the song - you know the tune (if you were listing to our Christmas 2019 Concerts!):
"In the 4th Blog of New Year, 'The Phoenix' gave to me: For Auld Lang Syne, Three Hearty Cheers, To All Men an Invite and A Calendar with Dates we can see!"
It's up to you, but if you also wanted to chip in a couple of private refrains of Robert Burns's Ode to the New Year too, then be our guest...! ...Better still, if you are that confident about singing and are a man 18 years or older, then maybe you should really be at our Open Rehearsal tonight (details below and here: https://www.norwichphoenixmvc.org/sing-with-us.html ) or if you can't make it, contact us via our website!
It's been very interesting for us looking back over our membership and rehearsal records over the last 10 years to see the names of our past Members and Accompanists alongside our current Chorister List and the name of our current 'orchestra', Jason Lambert. Over this time, the need for employment, the search for new musical challenges, other ambitions, changing pastimes, family needs and health issues, among other things, have made their enforced amendments to our lists. It is the case that our Membership Roll today and our current performance repertoire has been moulded and shaped by the work, inspiration and input of our past Members and so it is right that we give tribute to them here. In doing so, we can focus upon just two of our number as examples.
Just this very week, we have heard from our friend Keith Webster who had taken a rehearsal sabbatical during our Christmas 2019 rehearsal period. It was Keith who featured in our 'Silent Night' wartime tributes in the last few years by singing the first verse of the carol as a solo in German. Sadly for us, he has decided to take his leave of singing with us in MVC mode, but has exciting plans with his good lady-wife to sing in a choir very local to him. Whilst that Choir's gain is our loss, we are always glad, no matter how sad we might be, where singing is the winner, as it will be here! A huge 'thank you' Keith for all you've done for us and we all wish you well in your new pastime.
And sad news reached us before Christmas in that Tenor 1 Derek Evans, who had only joined our ranks in the Autumn, had passed away following an illness. With us for such a short time, Derek nevertheless left his mark with our rehearsal room front row. From singing with Ralph Reader's London Gang Shows when a Rover Scout, starting the Southend Gang Show, and going on to produce the Southend show over several years, his musical experiences and his jovial friendliness were a perfect match, of which we only saw a brief glimpse sadly. We were therefore very honoured to learn how much he had enjoyed our company in turn and that our Choir logo featured in his final Order of Service and our thoughts have been with his wife, family and wider friends during the time since. We have added our friend Derek to our list of those who have sadly passed away whilst in our Membership, to which in 2019 we had also added Tenor 2 and Eggheads Team Member Chris Hurst.
Time and time again, though, we are reminded that whilst we come across sad times, and have to say a goodbye to some of our friends over time for many reasons, we are encouraged to continue and look forward to our future successes. Whether with us for many years, or just a few weeks, our previous Members have moulded our Choir over our first 10 Years and our current Choristers have the responsibility of doing so for the next Ten and into the future. That is why we look for others to join us at our Open Rehearsals as we continue that work 'for auld lang syne'.
But in doing so, we always remember that our previous Members have lightened the burden because they are letting us stand upon the shoulders of giants.
(t)Witterings from the Choir's Webmaster, The Phoenix, but it's normally about what we are going to be or have been up to, something nice about someone we have sung with, or a gracious reply to one of your own wonderful comments.