Heyford Singers – April 2020

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A few weeks ago we went to see a wonderful production of “The King and I’” at the Milton Keynes theatre. The story and its history, the songs and music are familiar to us, but we were intrigued by the scenes that focused on Anna demanding her own house! For those new to the story, it is about an English governess, Anna who is contracted to teach the numerous children of the King of Siam. The promise of having her own house doesn’t happen, so during those long months Anna focuses on teaching only songs, rhymes, stories, historical and geographical information all about houses, and homes, until the king finally relents!

Fast forward a month and it seems uncanny that we are all now looking towards spending considerably more time in our own houses, our own homes, away from other people. A house is bricks and mortar, but a home is what we fill it with, it is what makes it unique, our personal choices, our comforts, our memories, our family links, etc. And in the days ahead we have the opportunity, and time, to perhaps selfishly indulge in all these personal attributes. Radio, television, the phone and the computer connect us with the outside world, and that is very important. But so is giving ourselves time for other things, and I don’t necessarily mean clearing out the loft or a massive spring clean! There are books to be read, hobbies ‘laid aside” when too busy with other tasks, promised letters to distant friends or family, collections of photographs to be organised, and so on.

But let’s consider the music, the songs, even dancing that could entertain us in the weeks ahead. Here are a few idle thoughts, even a few challenges, to keep those little black notes dancing in our heads and in our lives …

  • By all means keep up to date with radio and television news, but it can become all embracing and somewhat depressing, so why not change channel and listen to music for a while. It is medically accepted that listening to music has a very calming effect and can make you feel more relaxed.
  • Step out of your comfort zone for a short while and listen to a different form of music to your usual preference. Folk, jazz, pop, classical, country and western, light opera – give it a try!
  • Sort out those CDs that are acquiring dust on the shelves, play them, turn up the volume, and sing along! It is wonderful how the words of Beatles songs come roaring back, a real feel good factor.
  • Or if you secretly regret never having been given apart in the film of “Mamma
    Mia” (or another musical) now is the opportunity to play the DVD or the CD,
    and sing, sing … and dance along.
  • Is there an instrument lying forlornly unplayed in the house, bypassed for busier pursuits? Get it out, play the ivories or the strings, and make music!
  • If you want something more quiet and contemplative think of that desert island. What eight special pieces of music would you choose to take, and why? I’m sure that most of us, at one time or another, have compiled our own list of favourite music. You could even send them to me – what a lovely idea for the May Prattler!

We’ve all probably seen the delightful video of Italians standing on their individual balconies and singing. Then there have been the various, and some quite imaginative ways to sing or dance through the 20 second hand washing time. And no doubt other inventive musical activities will come about in the days ahead. So keep playing, listening, singing, dancing and enjoying music – it is a rich world and it is so good for the soul!

Heyford Singers has understandably postponed all its rehearsals and spring concert in May. The title for the concert was “Let Us Entertain You” and we will again……soon!

Take care, look after yourselves and each other.

Jill Langrish

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If you would like to find out more, visit the Heyford Singers page or our website:

www.heyfordsingers.org

 alternatively come along to one of our rehearsals in Nether Heyford Village Hall.

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Heyford Singers – March 2020

NetherHeyford-HeyfordSingers-March2020

This month we follow the journey of a passionate, war torn, emotional story – from book to film, play to musical stage show, radio to TV series, and eventually to Heyford Singers’ spring concert 2020.

‘Les Miserables’ by Victor Hugo, first published in 1862, is considered one of the greatest novels of the 19th century. It was originally divided into five volumes, each volume then divided into several books, totalling 365 chapters! It is a blazing pageant of life and death at the barricades of the political and social revolution in nineteenth century France. The story follows the life of Jean Valjean, released after serving 19 years in jail for having stolen a loaf of bread for his sister’s starving child. He later breaks parole, and police inspector, Javert, determines to hunt him down and return him to prison. Factor in beggars, factory workers, “ladies of the night”, a bishop, an innkeeper and his wife, a young child, rebellious students, the police and young lovers, and the ingredients are set for a truly emotional, turbulent, and epic story. Victor Hugo drew his inspiration for the book from what he saw and heard in Paris, recording impressions in his diary. In 1846, he witnessed an altercation between an old woman scavenging through rubbish and a street urchin; he personally gathered information about working-class people’s wages and living standards, about life in a convent, the toil and drudgery of different industries, the battle worn lives of those who had recently fought at Waterloo.

Thirty five years after the book’s initial publication the Lumiere Brothers made a short film of ‘Les Miserables’; the film industry then seized upon this epic story, resulting in over 50 versions having since been made for the screen!

In 1985 The RSC and the theatre impresario, Cameron Macintosh joined forces to produce a musical stage show of ‘Les Miserables’, and the music, songs and dance sequences took the story into a new dimension. Those who have seen the stage show will remember how the music surges through the theatre as chairs, tables, cartwheels and barrels are used to create the changing sets. Rousing songs such as “Red and Black”, “Do You Hear The People Sing” feature beside the tear jerking “I Dreamed a Dream” and “Empty Chairs at Empty Tables”. There are many more memorable songs and tunes.

In December 2012, the world’s longest-running musical was brought to the big screen in Tom Hooper’s sweeping and spectacular interpretation of Victor Hugo’s epic tale, although the general consensus was that no amount of cinematic spectacle could replace a live stage performance.

In 2015 the BBC commissioned ‘Les Miserables’ as a radio drama with Joss Ackland and Roger Allam, 25 episodes lasting nearly six hours in total, and during which the many themes were explored in the greatest detail.

At the start of 2019 there was the long awaited BBC serialisation of ‘Les Miserables’, directed by Andrew Davies and starring Dominic West, David Oyelowo and Lily Collins. The six hourly episodes enabled a very long and complicated book to unwind slowly so that viewers could appreciate the true scope of the events ……… without being distracted by the songs!

Maybe you have read the book, seen the stage show, listened to the radio series, or watched a film of ‘Les Miserables’? We each have our particular preference for the way that the story is told.

Heyford Singers humble contribution to this inspiring story is to perform a few of the wonderful songs from the musical version during our forthcoming spring concert, entitled “LET US ENTERTAIN YOU” on Friday 15th and Saturday 16th May. We do hope that you will be able to join us, and continue along the journey of this most wonderful story …… ‘Les Miserables’

Jill Langrish

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If you would like to find out more, visit the Heyford Singers page or our website:

www.heyfordsingers.org

 alternatively come along to one of our rehearsals in Nether Heyford Village Hall.

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Village Hall – News – March 2020

In line with the aims of the original founders and builders 60 years ago, the current management committee continues to work hard to maintain the condition and facilities of the village hall for the benefit of all its users. For example:

New Storage Container
This has now been ordered and will be delivered in the next few weeks. In the meantime, the area to the left-hand side of the hall has now been prepared to form a firm base. Once constructed, the new container will provide additional longer-term storage for large and heavy items, thereby releasing space for more cupboards for use by the growing number of regular users of the hall.

Redecoration
In due course the hall will be redecorated in time for a succession of special events planned for this year. We face a challenge in finding the right time to do this, because the hall is now almost continually booked (a victim of its own success).

Kitchen
In the meantime, this is now being comprehensively cleaned and sorted, with the exception of locked cupboards used by other groups.

Outside
Shortly, another working group will tackle the weeds and moss around the hall – made far worse by the recent heavy rains. This will not only improve its appearance but also ensure safer walking on the paths.

Future plans
In addition to managing and maintaining the hall, management committee members are now organising several events such as the biennial Garage Sale in April and the Village Hall Fete in June, and are seeking a good DJ for the Anniversary Dance in October (know anyone?).

Some are also involved with a group of other village folk in gathering information for an historical exhibition covering the hall’s 60 years.

Busy but rewarding times.

Alwyne Wilson – 01327 340803

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Village Hall – News – February 2020

First, a sad note
Chris Phillips, who has represented the Crafty Club on our Management Committee for some time, has decided to stand down. We want to record our warmest thanks to Chris for her enthusiastic and positive contributions to our meetings, and also her willing and active support at our various special events. We are going to miss her.

Pantomime : ‘Dick Whittington’
Another huge thank-you to the many volunteers who helped to make our latest traditional pantomime another great success. Once again we had a packed house, making all the generous contributions of time, effort and raffle prizes well worthwhile. The children and young people enthusiastically shared in the audience participation, although the adults certainly enjoyed themselves too. Our next pantomime by The Looking Glass Theatre will be ‘Cinderella’ at the end of the year. More information nearer the time.

Carols on the Green
A report on this appears elsewhere but it was interesting to note that, as with our Village Hall Fete in June, the weather before and on the day was awful. During our setting up it was pouring and we were all soaked – again. However, as with the Fete, amazingly the rain stopped in time, giving us a clear and relatively mild evening for the event.

The Heyford Singers, lead by their Director Mary Rice whose idea this was, are to be warmly congratulated on a successful first event. It looks as though Nether Heyford now has another traditional annual event on the Village Green.

Main Hall Floor
This has now been fully cleaned and restored and looks like a brand new floor, attracting many compliments from our users. Our thanks are due to Peter Squire for researching and arranging for this work to be done over the Christmas break.

Heating
The boiler which heats the kitchen side of the hall and rooms behind the stage has now been repaired and is working well. So no more complaints about being cold. However, we did receive a complaint during the pantomime that it was actually too hot – can’t win – but we continue to do our best.

Future plans
Several are in the pipeline and will be reported as and when appropriate. We want our village hall to be in prime condition for its 60th anniversary celebrations.

Alwyne Wilson – 01327 340803

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Heyford Singers – February 2020

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It is a cold, damp and rather dreary day in January, one of those days when time seems to be edging oh so slowly towards spring, although to be fair there are minute signs appearing everyday. One of those days when you look forward to the year ahead, whilst the memories of 2019, including the recent Christmas celebrations, still linger. We know that January is named after Janus, the Roman god of ‘beginnings, gates, transitions, time, doorways, passages, and endings. He is usually depicted as having two faces, since he looks to the future and to the past.’

If we look back on 2019 for Heyford Singers it was, as in most families or organisations, a mixture of sadness and good times. In September we gained thirteen new singers in the choir, increasing our membership to over 60! They are very welcome indeed and include young mums from the village as well as older experienced singers who have worked with other choirs. The result is a very positive and vibrant atmosphere at rehearsals, even if space and stage management does become an issue!

At the end of the year, as Christmas approached, Heyford Singers were very actively involved with several, local community ventures. We had a second delightful entertainment from our resident pianist, Graham Kinnersly entitled “A Musical Mystery Tour” in which our knowledge of music and songs from the recent and distant past was tested. It was a lovely afternoon and sent us off in a festive mood, not only because we had collectively raised £460.00 towards the Emmanuel Benevolent Fund, which supports the Weston Favell Centre Food Bank. That same evening some of the choir went to sing at the Bliss Charity School Christmas Fayre.

This was an absolute delight, especially when young children joined us to sing some of the carols.

Our annual Christmas concert, Christmas Is … followed in early December and we performed to sell out audiences, who we hope enjoyed the Christmas music and singing as much as we did! Once again we were really pleased to be able to support charitable organisations, sending £175.00 from raffle ticket sales to both the Air Ambulance and Dementia UK.

Carols on the Green was a new venture for the choir (see Mary Rice’s article), and despite awful weather earlier in the day it was a lovely, memorable evening, which we hope you enjoyed as much as we did! We are looking forward to this becoming an annual Christmas event for Nether Heyford.

Several choir members sang at the church’s Service of Nine Lessons and Carols on Sunday 22nd December, heralding the true beginning of Christmas. I think that those who sing with, and support, Heyford Singers, would say that they have thoroughly enjoying contributing to the “feel good factor’ of our local community, through a variety of music and songs.

We have looked back to 2019 …………… and now to look forward to 2020.

Our Spring concerts are planned for Friday 15th and Saturday 16th May. Rehearsals have begun on Les Miserables, Mama Mia, Fields of Gold, You Raise Me up, and many more – very exciting!

We have also been invited to perform a fund raising concert in Bugbrooke Church in the spring, yet another special contribution towards our village communities.

Then there will be the 2020 Christmas concerts as well, but enough for now as it is time to brave the rain and wind and look around the garden for emerging snowdrops and spring bulbs!

Jill Langrish

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If you would like to find out more, visit the Heyford Singers page or our website:

www.heyfordsingers.org

 alternatively come along to one of our rehearsals in Nether Heyford Village Hall.

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Heyford Singers – “Lookin’ for Men” February 2020

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If you would like to find out more, visit the Heyford Singers page or our website:

www.heyfordsingers.org

 alternatively come along to one of our rehearsals in Nether Heyford Village Hall.

____________________________________________________________________________________

 

Heyford Singers – December 2019

HeyfordSingersDecember2019

In recent days vast swathes of the country have been engulfed by incessant rain, followed by flooding, and creating eerie, watery landscapes. Venice likewise has experienced unprecedented rain and high tides, a sad and beautiful, submerged city resembling a scene from a disaster movie. Across the world, to the east and west, firefighters are battling with bush fires that move and burn with an intensity that is almost too hard to comprehend. Global warming is evident in so many guises! Record high temperatures this past summer and record low temperatures during the winter of 2018.

It was the later that inspired Graham Kinnersly (Heyford singers’ resident pianist and composer) to write the song quoted above, and which will premiere at the forthcoming Christmas concert, ‘Christmas Is……’. Marooned at home for a few days as the “Beast from the East” struck, Graham’s creative talents took over, melody, words, humour, even a dash of politics, all centered around the notion of global warming. The choir loves this song, the Russian tune, the wintry feel and the sense of menace!

The first half of our concert is devoted to Night of Wonder, Night of Joy, a set of beautiful songs and readings that relate the story of the first Christmas. The nativity continues into the second half of the concert with the choir singing One Small Lamb, O Holy Night and then Pacem, which will be accompanied by a young solo violinist (a family member). This is always a very moving piece to sing and listen to, made even more so by the haunting tune played out on the violin.

Then the mood changes and we celebrate Christmas in words and music with songs of sheer joy and exuberance ……Sleigh Bells (with the ladies “jing-a-ling-alinging!), White Christmas, Graham’s Snow From Siberia and Christmas Is, from which we take our concert title.

Christmas Is ……..what to you?

One of the most moving features of our Christmas concert is that of choir and audience, joining together to sing Christmas carols. That is always very special to us, and we hope to you too.

I do hope that you are able to get a ticket and share what promises to be a wonderful evening with us.

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Carols on the Green

On Friday 20th December at 6.30pm, as the working week and school term ends, as families and friends begin to celebrate the Christmas holidays, we have a new initiative in Nether Heyford, an idea originally muted by Mary Rice. It is to come together on our unique village green, to sing some lovely Christmas carols, to celebrate our close community, and to enjoy all this with friends, families and neighbours. We do hope that you can join us, and that the weather is not too cold, too wet or too windy, and if it is then we shall just adjourn and raise the roof of the village hall with our singing!

Nether Heyford Carols on the Green Heyford Singers

Everyone in Heyford Singers wishes you, your families and your friends, a very Happy Christmas and a happy, healthy 2020.

Jill Langrish

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If you would like to find out more, visit the Heyford Singers page or our website:

www.heyfordsingers.org

 alternatively come along to one of our rehearsals in Nether Heyford Village Hall.

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