Musical Director: Greg Watson
The Musicality Singers
As choirs go, The Musicality Singers is relatively new. In the course of our short existence, though, we’ve come a long way. We are now an independent community choir with a wide repertoire of music and experience of performing in a variety of circumstances and venues. It wasn’t always like that, though.
Based on the edge of north Nottinghamshire, close to the Derbyshire and South Yorkshire borders, it all began when a group of people from the local U3A got together in November 2011 just to sing.
We were led initially by John Fletcher, an expert on the history of nearby Clumber Park and an amateur musician. We were – and are – a mixed bunch. Some of us hadn’t sung as part of a choir before; some had quite a bit of experience in other choirs. Somehow, though, it started to come together. With John’s help, we began to evolve into a choir rather than a group of people who just got together to have a sing song. So much so, that we eventually reached the point where John felt that if we wanted to develop further, we needed to make use of the services of someone with more professional musical skills.
Fortunately, with John’s help, we found the person we needed, in the form of Greg Watson, an accomplished and versatile musician and musical director who has a talent for making learning fun. He has since said, ‘I knew from the moment I first heard the choir that it had the potential to be something quite special.’
Gradually, with Greg’s help and the help of Peter Colby (who at the time was our accompanist and assistant musical director), we’ve evolved from a unison choir into one that takes six part harmonies (almost) in our stride. Over time we’ve developed and broadened our repertoire so that it covers pieces that range from Greensleeves to Queen’s ‘We Will Rock You’, taking in spirituals, Christmas numbers, Bowie, Gershwin, Lloyd Webber, Leonard Cohen, Billy Joel, Abba and the Beatles along the way.
So, we’ve learned a lot, come a long way and things have changed. We now have over sixty members. After seven years, sadly, Peter moved on. Fortunately, though, we were lucky enough to find Jennifer Demicheli, an experienced musician in her own right and an excellent accompanist and assistant musical director. What hasn’t changed over the years, is that we still get to have fun, too. Greg has gone on record as saying: ‘There’s a continuous enthusiasm and sense of fun from the members that makes the choir a pleasure both to listen to and to be part of.’
Of course, as with any choir, it hasn’t all been plain sailing. There have been times when we’ve struggled, when things haven’t turned out quite right. There have been times when Greg (I suspect many musical directors will recognise this) has wanted to tear his hair out because we’ve had trouble with something that should have been straightforward. But equally, there has been the joy of us suddenly mastering something, out of the blue it seems, that we could have been expected to find difficult. Greg again: ‘Sometimes the people in the choir seem to surprise themselves. They will be working on something quite complex and suddenly it all slots into place and there’s a beautiful sound.’
The sense of fun, though, does seem to show through to our audiences. After one performance, a surprised audience member was overheard to say: ‘They’re like a proper choir, but more fun.’ I don’t know what her expectations of us or her experience of other choirs had been, but it feels like we should wear the comment as a badge of pride.
We’ve performed for a variety of charities and community events. And we’ve collaborated with other musicians: brass bands, percussionists, recorder players and other choirs. We’ve featured drums and guitar on a couple of occasions. We’ve performed in music venues, pubs, community halls and in the open air. We’ve performed in a number of churches at funerals, weddings, carol concerts and light a candle services.
To subsidise the costs of the charity events and to raise funds towards the running of the choir, we normally mount two paying performances a year; one in the summer and one just before Christmas, with the winter concert being full of Christmas cheer and audience participation.
The current situation with the pandemic has, of course, meant that we haven’t been able to get together to rehearse – and, like many others, we haven’t been able to perform to a live audience – for well over a year. We’re hoping, though, that (depending on the Covid situation) we’ll be able to start rehearsals again in September and put on a concert in December.
Starting up again after so long is going to be quite a challenge. There will be ups and downs, I know. But we’ll get there. And there will be some laughter along the way.
After all, we have a reputation to live up to. We have, once again, to become ‘like a proper choir but more fun’. And that’s quite a tall order.
Malcolm Fritchley, Choir Member since the beginning.