[Editor’s note: Though the Marsh Choir has learnt to live with lockdown, and go online, it is not resting on its laurels as a sea shanty course starts on March 1 (See final paragraph) and the lockdown may become more unlocked as we progress towards summer]
Many of the most positive stories to emerge from the pandemic have described the power of the arts to overcome feelings of isolation and grief and to unite people in the creation of something beautiful. For members of the Rye group in the Marsh Choir, their labour of love has been crafted in a virtual space with singers at six other locations across Romney Marsh.
“Flock Boss”, Carly Bryant, started the choir in January 2019, and its first performance was in July 2019 at All Saints Church, Lydd. At that point, there were 185 people in the choir and an audience of approximately 1,000 people. Fast forward to the present day and there are over 400 members in the seven groups, the most recently formed being in Rye, where just a few meetings happened before life changed for everybody.
A nimble switch to online singing meant that there was a great deal to learn for everybody, not least the challenge of learning new, technical skills and the Covideo Diaries are evidence that Carly’s lessons worked like a dream. But Mozart? That was a whole other voyage of discovery for the self-proclaimed rock and pop choir.
Carly says, “I had to weigh up how to pitch it to the members and in the end I just decided to go for it. I asked who was on board to learn Lacrimosa over five weeks. Oh and by the way, it will probably have a hip hop arrangement and possibly some beat poetry too.” To her delight, 138 members said yes, and Carly set about the task of teaching the piece over Zoom, sending demo tapes to each person for each part and ultimately mixing the recorded voices into one uniquely glorious rendition of Mozart’s beautiful song and making a video to go with it.
Rye and Camber residents have loved waving at each other at the Zoom lessons and look forward to the day the Rye group meets again in real life. Says Jane Beecham who sings with her daughter Evie, “Marsh Choir has been with us every step of the way, meeting when we could, doing daily singalongs on YouTube and now allowing us get involved with making music that is just as uplifting now as it was 230 years ago. We finished our part recently and I can’t wait to see what’s next. “
The wait won’t be long because the next adventure for Marsh Choir is a sea shanty course starting on March 1. Find out more and sign up here.
Image Credits: Carly Bryant .