• Sandra Smith

St Ives September Festival

PHOTOS BY ANDREW LESTER AND SANDRA BARRETT

September started beautifully - we were back rehearsing right at the start of the month, getting ready for St. Ives September festival, where we were doing 3 shows in one day. We were all well rested from holidays and coming back to singing songs that were well sung in and ready to go. Quite an easy start to the term .......one might say, a false sense of security! This is a festival that I've wanted to take the choir to, for a long time. I've been to the festival and sung at Norway Square and some of the clubs and it is in the very heart of the choir county. With the help of our sponsors, Heart and Soul Funerals, we were able to afford the luxury of a coach to St Ives and back, with the Exeter group being picked up at 7am and others at more southern points at 8am. The coach dropped us off at the very top of the town, so we had to commandeer the local bus! We just about squeezed on with all our rostra costumes, keyboards and music etc but we could see the sea so we were happy!!! We dropped all the gear off at The Guildhall theatre and had an hour to spare, so we spent it wandering around and eating!

The theatre was lovely - musty smelling, old and dignified! A very valuable asset to a town. The lighting and sound were being sorted out for Show Of Hands finale, so we kept out of the way and got ready for the first of our 3 shows! First off, we went over to The Tate Loggia building which is right on the beach - we didn't know if anyone would be there and were very excited to find it full by the time we had started singing - with a wonderful, warm, appreciative audience. There were so many of us walking the streets (!) Diana led us by waving the Cornish flag, so we didn't get lost!

The sun was still just about shining - and we settled in to sing. The acoustics were absolutely beautiful - our voices rang out over the beach! We did a fantastic set - everything came together. The soloists were brilliant, the atmosphere was fabulous and the place very quickly became completely packed! People were pouring in - I hope to hear us, but it had really started raining, too! We aren't proud - whatever the reason they came in - we got them to stay!! Fantastic feedback from organisers ((that was the first time they had heard us properly) and other choir people who had come to hear us.

Ist gig down and we started off to the chapel for round 2- in the rain!

Slightly soaked and dripping, we piled into The Mariners chapel just off Norway Square, which is now an art gallery and we sang amongst the art. Apparently our singing was ringing through the streets and people were following the sound to come and hear us!

It's quite hard on a singers stamina to do 2 gigs back to back and this is when our preparation and focus counts. That ability to keep the concentration and deliver again, comes from good rehearsal techniques - and the choir did it again! Another beautiful set and we were selling a lot of EP's which tells us that people were liking what they were hearing. It's proven to be a very good barometer to how we have gone down!

Our pregnant ladies were hanging on in there - and we were very pleased to have them with us. It was time to go back to the theatre and rest up, eat and soundcheck for the grand finale with Show of Hands.

Show of Hands were, as usual, utterly fab with us - even let us leak over into their dressing room. Phil came on to introduce us and managed to get both our name and location wrong - apparently we are now from Dartford! (resulting in lots of sniggering in the choir) What is wonderful about SOH, is that they still look after us. Steve comes on stage during our set to sing a solo with us, rather than put the song in their own set. He does it to show his support of us - to show the audience that we are part of the SOH family. He also often stands in the wings to see how we are doing. Coming off stage, at St Ives, he commented on how well we had been received - that feels good!



The photo below by organiser Mike Sinclair

The audience joined in and sang with us and it felt wonderful to be a part of this finale concert with SOH. It was great to know the organisers had enjoyed us, as much as we had enjoyed being there. There was such a good atmosphere all day and there was just time for drinks in the bar before dragging our tired selves up that hill, in the rain, to catch the coach home! Steve C from our basses set of the rallying cry of 'Keep Hauling'


It was a long day - we got back at 3am and a few of us had work the next day. It was exhilarating and loads of fun. The organisers were fab with us and made the day flow easily and with good humour.

You certainly know your choir get on together when 33 of them are getting changed in a box room! Singers were sharing food, helping each other out, calming a very hungry and tired pregnant lady, just being kind really. They are a good bunch of people!




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