Street Choirs Whitby 2011

National Street Choirs Festival 2011 - 15-17th July in Whitby

Brent and Linda share their story
Our first experience of this festival began on Friday afternoon, when we had a pleasant drive up to the Broadings Farm campsite in Whitby. We arrived around 3.30 and quickly spotted Nikki waving at us from her tent. She had arrived earlier with Rosie her lovely daughter and Gus the dog and they’d saved space for fellow Clarionistas, which we helped to fill. John, Andrew and Ted followed us in and we enjoyed our first cuppa together.
We settled in and had a good natter, enjoying the beautiful views before strolling into town for the evening. We made the most of the fine weather by picking up Whitby fish and chips and eating them on the sea front. Seasoned Clarionistas warned us of the scavenging seagulls and we managed to hold on to our dinner, aided by a group of local skate boarders, who whizzed round frightening off the birds. As we walked along the front we met up with lots more Clarionistas and a group of us climbed up to the Pavilion to register. What a lovely location! We were warmly welcomed by the Whitby group and after catching up with more of our choir headed off to the Shambles for a pint or two of ale… lovely.

Saturday morning dawned and we made it down to the Pavilion for the 9.30 mass rehearsal, led by larger than life Rebecca Gross. We were bowled over by her amazing voice range and thoroughly enjoyed learning the songs. We didn’t enjoy performing them later though: it was pouring with rain and with a non-existent audience, seemed a waste of time.. oh well! Our first busk at the bottom of the Abbey steps followed and, despite the interruptions by cars was well received. We were particularly impressed by Roger’s valiant attempt to gather the weather beaten few. Those who did stay to listen clapped and cheered enthusiastically and were impressed by our ability to move away from the cars and to carry on singing.
We moved on to our second busk after a sharp half at the Station Inn. Our reception at the bottom of Flower Gate, near to the Golden Lion pub, was a bit more mixed, with a group of drunken men on stag parties being a bit too vocal. We soldiered on undeterred and moved on to our last busk as the weather deteriorated. By the time we arrived at Dock End we were quite damp. Still, we enjoyed supporting the Raised Voices choir that preceded us, especially as they sang one of our anti cuts songs, so we were happy to join in. As they carried on singing the heavens opened and it chucked it down…. Oh dear, where could we shelter? The only place nearby was a King James Bible tent. Andrew had no hesitation about seeking divine help and we soon joined him… the tent was busier than it had been all day!! When the time came for us to sing any audience had disappeared and the rain was unrelenting. It was with some relief that we welcomed the decision to forget our last busk and move on Maggie’s apartment where we could rehearse. Things got even better when Ted produced a bottle of brandy, which did the rounds and quickly disappeared!
After the rehearsal we had time to chill and eat before the evening concert. By then the sun had returned and we found a sunny bench overlooking the sea, where Brent spotted a dolphin swimming about, quite close to the shore. Brilliant.
The evening concert began and we thoroughly enjoyed listening to the wide range of material. The time went really quickly and before we knew it our turn had arrived. We were called through a bit early and told off for practising a bit too loudly in the café!!! When we finally got down to the rehearsal room a mild panic ensued: none of the altos could remember their starting note and there was a general sense of panic. Bronwyn was just brilliant: she stayed calm and got us through some tricky moments. We scuttled along underground passages to the backstage area full of unease: how did that Chumbawumba song start??? What were the notes for our Whoo… whoos??? OMG!
Then onto the stage where calm descended. After the introductory song and our rendition of Sugar Plum Fairy, we hurtled along into the Runaway Train. After a couple of bars the audience responded and our confidence grew… they were with us all the way! What a sense of solidarity! It was just brilliant. As we left the stage after our 7…. Okay, 9 .5 minutes – we were overawed by the standing ovation we received. Wow! What an experience! Click here for the video of our performance

We relaxed as the last few choirs performed and just loved the Trifle song, which Linda, and many other women there, so identified with. Back in the bar we began to wind down and a group of us headed down to the Station Inn for a last pint before trekking back up the hill to the campsite. The adrenalin rush hadn’t quite subsided, so we cracked open a bottle of red and enjoyed getting to know Ted over another glass of wine.
Next morning we just about managed to get the tent down before the rains arrived once more. No thanks to Andrew who’s verion of ‘Here comes the Rain’ most definitely brought on the showers! We said our goodbyes to Denise and her family and to Anne and the others before heading back down to the pavilion and a hive of activity as folk gathered before their workshops. Linda was delighted to get onto the fantastic Jacqui Wickes’ ukulele workshop, where she managed to play a bit of Bob Marley with the group. Brent, Andrew, Ingrid and Joan snuck into Rebecca’s workshop and chilled to the music, where Andrew was his usual bouncy self as he got into the groove. Afterwards we all gathered around to compare notes and everyone seemed very happy.
What a brilliant weekend! We just loved it…… rain and all and can’t wait for the next one. Thanks to all our Clarion friends for adding a touch of magic to this year. We love ya!

SMF Whitby busk 2
SMF Whitby busk 1
SMF Whitby concert 1
whitby sunset

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