"It was a joy to sing with 50 singers at ChoirLab on Sunday. Together we made a magnificent sound. I taught the following songs: The Only Thing Better Than Singing by Penny Stone, Vuma, a South African church song, Vichnaya Pamyat, a traditional Ukranian song arranged by Faith Watson and Autumn Round. by Sarah Morgan. Thanks to Matt Finch for organising this great event and for inviting me back!"
It was a joy to lead around 40 singers in song for an hour at this fabulous festival overlooking Corfe Castle. We sang:
Senua De Dende, Banaha, Daisies White and Reindeer Yoik.
Some feedback from the participants:
'Your workshop was my highlight of the festival!" "I really enjoyed your session" "Excellent songs"
Claire led a warm up which included a fun chant with deceptively tricky actions! After this I taught Banaha, a glorious 3-part round about bananas and pineapples from the Congo. Next Claire taught us two sections from Chanson, a terrific song by Helen Yeomans'. It was nice to stand in the quire for this part of the workshop, with it's vibrant stained glass window and curved wall. Despite the challenging parts, we were able to create a fantastic sound and it was great to hear those big harmonies soaring.
After a well earned cup of tea we continued our singing in St Thomas's with Harbour by Anna Tabbush, a song written in response to the Syrian refugee crisis. The sound we made together was beautiful and really very moving. Many of you have written in your feedback that it was a highlight for you. I look forward to continuing with this song in my Clarity choirs in September.
We then moved on to learning Sinje Nje Nje with Claire. This is a song about ancestors and prayer from South Africa. It was such a joyful song to sing and a real ear-worm! We explored the space whilst we sang and enjoyed doing some actions too.
After lunch I taught you Oh River, a short 'layer song' by MaMuse. Claire then led Vichnaya Pamyat, a beautiful Ukranian song meaning 'Eternal Memory'. We explored the different spaces in the church and experimented with singing to each other from either end of the church.
We then took a short walk down the road to the magnificent Wells Cathedral where we were able to sing our songs to unexpected crowd! Hearing your voices soar in that amazing space was a real treat, especially in the Chapter House where we brought the day to a close. Singing Vichnaya Pamyat in there was a stand out moment for me.
Participant feedback from Summer Sing with Claire Stronach, Wells in 2023:
Absolutely brilliant, loved every minute of it. Such a good choice of songs and you worked so well together.
Lovely songs, good choice, good variety. Loved the venues - such a treat to sing in the cathedral. Thank you.
I feel re-invigorated by this lovely chance to sing in harmony with friends and strangers. The venues were inspiring too.
Moving and magical. It's amazing what 50 individuals can achieve in a single workshop.
Really enjoyed - would come again and recommend to others. Loved the enthusiasm of Clara and Claire - gifted people!
Wonderful day, enjoyed singing in Wells Cathedral- once in a lifetime experience.
On Sunday 5 March, a group of 40 singers came together for an afternoon workshop. The whole workshop was was full of joy and I found it very uplifting. It was great to see some new faces as well as many familiar ones. Below are some thoughts reflecting on what was a wonderful workshop.
After our warm up we learned The Sun Will Rise, a beautiful round about hope written by Kate Shrubsall in the early weeks of the first lockdown. Next we sang Walk in the Light, a fun gospel-style song by Nick Prater, a pioneer of the community choir and natural voice movement. This song is full of joy and it was wonderful to hear you all sing it!
After a well earned cup of tea we continued our singing with Soyiwela, a South African freedom song. A relatively simple, short song, I found this to be quite moving. Many of you have written in your feedback that it was a highlight for you.
We then moved on to learning Dave King's fabulous arrangement of Sydney Carter's rousing Bells of Norwich. Based on a text by Julian of Norwich (all shall be well and all manner of things shall be well), this song reminds us that all things shall pass, like the seasons come and go. It was great to hear the basses sing their wonderful line that sounds like a peal of bells ringing out over the melody. It's such a fun song to sing and a real ear-worm!
To finish the afternoon, we learned a few lines of Penny Stone's In Ev'ry Grain of Sand to send us off on our way. A beautiful song about our precious Earth and how we are all connected.
Singing Weekend with Jane Harris - Saturday 19 & Sunday 20 March 2022
Bishop Edward King Chapel, Ripon College, Cuddesdon, near Oxford.
Absolutely delightful leaders – enthusiastic, fun and technically perfect!
An inspiring weekend in a glorious setting with beautiful spring sunshine
A beautiful experience all round
Forty singers gathered for a wonderful weekend singing in the stunning Bishop Edward King Chapel, Ripon College, Cuddesdon, near Oxford. There were singers from across the UK including Wiltshire, London, Lancashire and Glasgow.
I really enjoyed co-leading the weekend with my fellow Rolling Harmony singer, Jane Harris. We both brought songs to teach from a wide range of traditions. We had lots of fun exploring the acoustics of the space. We were lucky to have beautiful sunshine most of the weekend and so we got to experience the changing light inside the chapel at different times of day.
Jane explains the background:
The chapel is an extraordinary space, wonderfully resonant and filled with natural light filtering in from above. I first sang there about five years ago with a group of women’s voices and promised myself that one day I would lead a singing weekend there.
I look forward to working with Jane again. We have a workshop with Rolling Harmony coming up in March 2023.
Despite the howling gales and the endless rain, 46 singers found solace in the beautiful Holy Trinity Church last week for the Early Spring Sing. The church provided a sanctuary from the stormy weather, and the calming affect of the space allowed for some glorious singing. Below are some of my thoughts on the workshop with a recap of the songs we learned. There is also some participant feedback which feature many recurring words: uplifting, calming, joyful. I agree! Thank you for supporting the second Sing with Clarity workshop.
We began the workshop with a gentle warm up including singing scales in harmony. Following the warm up we learned a Nigerian round, Yo Yo Yo, a deceptively simple tune with delicious harmonies when you get into 3 parts. Next we sang Wake Up, a song written for community choir by Nick Prater, arranged by Ali Orbaum for Sing for Water. We began with the tune to the verse and learning the harmony parts around it. It's a wonderful song, anticipating spring, moments in nature and the new day.
We took a short refreshment break and then learned Noyana, a Zulu song about heaven. A short song, with very few words, Noyana is a joyous song with some crunchy harmonies. It also has some tricky entries, particularly for the basses and sopranos, but it didn't take long for the singers to nail it and it was fantastic! The next song we sang was Madre Tierra, a song for Mother Earth by Alonso del Rio from Peru. This is a piece arranged by Nickomo, a much-loved choir leader, song arranger and writer. We dedicated this part of the workshop to him as he is in hospital recovering from a serious illness. The basses had the lead part on this song creating a rich, warm sound throughout. Once the parts were learned we explored the space whilst singing - it's a beautiful thing when you can walk past the other harmonies and hear them all weaving through each other.
We then went back to Wake Up to learn the chorus with it's wonderful run of alleluia's. Every part has a slightly different rhythm to learn which makes it a little challenging, but very satisfying to sing.
After a short break, we put the verse and the chorus of Wake Up together and sang it through a few times, experimenting with taking parts in and out. To round off the workshop we went back to the very first piece, Yo Yo Yo, and sang that in a close circle with parts split across the whole space, creating a lush sound. We ended with taking the volume right down and singing gently, creating a trance-like stillness and calm within the whole group. Absolute magic.
I was left feeling uplifted and re-energised. Thank you to you all for contributing to a wonderful afternoon of singing.
What was your favourite thing about today's workshop?
The warmth from the leader on this windy and rainy day.
The amazing leadership, songs and unity.
The youthful energy and precision.
Clear teaching, good choice of music, great location.
Singing with lots of people.
Song choice, very clearly led. Excellent.
Three words to describe your experience:
Calming, uplifting, joyful
Energising, joyful, rewarding
Grounding, enabling, nurturing
Joyful, heart-opening, hopeful
Inspirational, beautiful, spiritual
Uplifting, emotive, happy
Happy, friendly, hurrah
Fun, uplifting, moving
Uplifting, relaxing, enriching
Joyous, high-standard, inspired
Fun, joyous, calming
Well organised joy
Enjoyable, friendly, uplifting
Organisation so good, so quietly and generously done. Again, thank you.
Fantastic as ever!
Lovely songs - great coffee!
Lovely balance of songs and so refreshing to have songs with plenty of interest, yet not too complicated as to be unachievable. Exactly as a workshop should be, with the satisfaction of singing successfully what we had learnt. Great sound. And great fun, well done Clara.
Speed learning always a challenge, but you make it fun and rewarding!
On Saturday 3 August, we welcomed over 50 singers to Edington Priory Church for a wonderful afternoon of singing. The group were taught songs from South Africa, Georgia, Israel, Corsica, the USA and Canada by choir leader Clara Atkins. In the last part of the workshop the group enjoyed singing everything they'd learned in the most extraordinary acoustic of the chancel.
Below is some feedback from the participants along with some photos from the day.
We'd like to thank Edington Priory Church for being so accommodating and welcoming. And also a BIG thank you to Tim and Rosanna who helped with car parking and refreshments.
We hope to have another Sing with Clarity workshop at Edington again soon. Watch this space!
What was your favourite thing about today's workshop?
Superb organisation, wonderful welcome, the BEST leader.
The happy atmosphere. Really enjoyable afternoon.
High quality of leader. Wonderful.
I LOVED IT!
An inspiring very professional choir leader - really impressive.
Encouraging and positive teaching (non-threatening!).
YOU! I loved the way you taught, made songs easy to learn.
This has added another dimension to the singing experience and the acoustics were breathtaking.
Lovely mixture of songs taught beautifully.
Inspirational teaching, clear and encouraging. Excellent choice of songs.
Singing with others and making an amazing sound. Escaping the worries and angst of the news / world.
Hearing the power of voices singing together and the emotional effect. It was all brilliant. I want to do it again! Fantastic!
As part of the Wiltshire Rural Music's fundraiser at Holy Trinity Church, Trowbridge, Clarity leader Clara Atkins delivered a 1-hour workshop. It was well received with over 25 people joining in, including 3 under 16. We learned a 16th century Michael Praetorious 3-part round called Jubilate Deo and a four part South African song called Haufi Le Morena. At the end we shared what we'd learned to the audience of supporters before enjoying some delicious tea and cake.
To find out more about Wiltshire Rural Music, visit their website: http://wiltshireruralmusic.co.uk/