Ten years ago it struck me that, despite having any number of good singers in our village, how odd it was that we didn’t have our own choir. Surely we could put that right? And when the collapsed Methodist church was at last re-erected, how better than to celebrate that than with music?
And so, our little choir was born. We were a smaller bunch then, only 12 of us plus David. Somehow we put a full programme on, after only four rehearsals, in a packed Methodist church, and found we had immediately established the guiding principles that have been behind everything we have done since.
Along with the fun of learning, singing and performing music, we soon found that it was important to us to raise as much as we could for good causes, and, as we reach our tenth anniversary we are proud to say that we are on the way to having raised a total of £30,000 for a wide variety of needs - from church lavatories (a lot of those) to many humanitarian needs, earthquakes, refugees crises, the tsunami, and famine.
Meanwhile, our little band of 12 has grown to the size you see today. We still have six of the original cast, but we have also acquired many more. (And we are very happy to welcome back this evening some former members – spot them in the audience!) I am very proud of the fact that, though we are essentially a Haddenham and Villages choir, we are also truly international, having in our midst representatives of the USA, Switzerland and New Zealand – and we are delighted to benefit from the perspectives (and language skills) they bring.
There are many things that delight me about the choir, from the willingness with which the women rummage through the charity shops to find dresses to suit every colour theme, to the men’s acceptance of having to wear their barber shop boaters every now and again; from their commitment to rehearsals on the grimmest of evenings (and I have to mention that in ten years I think Kirsten has only missed perhaps one rehearsal AT MOST), to their enthusiasm for a good party after every concert. And how many choirs can there be who have TWO Benedicts/Benedikts in their bass section? All this is colourful and wonderful and I am enormously grateful and appreciative of the whole choir.
None of it could have happened without a lot of hard work behind the scenes by a lot of the members, but I have to make special mention of David, our Musical Director, whose careful thought and hard work, week after week and month after month, results in such a varied and entertaining programme year after year. He fits his globe-trotting work schedule around his Sunday nights.
Together we have sung 30 major concerts; madrigals from the top of Cuddington church nine times and on the top of Long Crendon church five times; many Winterfests; masses of carol-singing in pubs; and a miscellany of other appearances at local events. We have sung in Margam Abbey in Wales, Waltham St Lawrence in Berkshire (twice), and Berlin, where we have made such wonderful friends - with whom we have so little language in common! 2015 is already looking busy, as our German friends are returning to visit in March, we’re off to Waltham St Lawrence again, and have planned our summer concert in the Cotswold village of Bledington.
Finally, may I say that I am also enormously appreciative of you, the audience, without whom, we wouldn’t have had half so much fun, and wouldn’t have raised the money. So thank you, dear audience, for coming back repeatedly and giving us cause to carry on. I very much hope you enjoy this evening’s performance.
So - that was ten years – here’s to the next twenty!
Alison Court, Chair, Witchert Chorale