Early morning on Saturday 5 November saw Magenta boarding a luxurious coach outside our rehearsal venue in Moseley, to be driven in style through the beautiful autumn countryside to Llandudno, where we had a long-standing engagement to perform at the North Wales Choral Festival.
First priority? Chips, and a walk by the sea. Crashing waves and a northerly gale meant that there were no cobwebs anywhere on our persons by the time we were due to warm up – and then back along the promenade to Venue Cymru where the festival was taking place. A huge venue, with rather a sports stadium feel; packed with people, the choirs recognisable by their matching (and often glamorous) dresses. Another chance to warm up and tune in to each other, and then we were shown into the ‘arena’: large, seating perhaps 1000 people, with the stage impressively lit and decorated in something of the style of a floodlit Greek temple.
We didn’t win the cup. But we got to hear the ten other choirs in our class, including Entourage, the deserving winners. And we came home with things that were perhaps even more valuable than a trophy. There was the glow of ‘we did it’ – we performed our set on that great stage, with the lights in our eyes and hundreds of people listening. There was discovering just how true it is that we are unique: we were the only a capella choir and the only one that wasn’t directed from out front; and our repertoire stood out a mile for its freshness and originality, and for the complexity and intricacy of the arrangements.
Our two new members, Bose and Jo, plunged right in at the deep end with this as their first performance with us, performed their hearts out; and we had the sense of really bonding with them and welcoming them into us as a choir.
We look forward to coming more fully into what we truly see is our uniqueness, and to sharing that – to make people happy!
Sunday 18 September saw Magenta spending the whole day on a retreat at Hillscourt Conference Centre, a return visit for the majority and first time for three of us who joined within the last year (with no idea of what to expect!)
Inspired by a beautiful venue (and an excellent lunch) we covered a variety of choir related topics, starting with a getting to know you ice breaker from Jenny, then a very helpful session from Liz on controlling nerves.
An artistic exercise by Cathy make us think about what Magenta means to us. Liz led a fun session on singing with varied (and in some cases rather bizarre) styles – try singing Somebody to Love while trying to look like an excited puppy!
There was also a session on quarteting led by our quartet regulars with each group then performing to the rest of the choir. Only ten notes but a really useful exercise for those of us new to singing in a quartet.
Glenys introduced us to the benefits of laughter yoga, though perhaps the biggest laugh came from Julie’s music machine exercise (pictured left).
A long and tiring day but good to spend time together recharging musical batteries, working on all sorts of different aspects (including sharing out the admin jobs) and getting to know each other better – very important when singing together. Roll on another year’s singing.
‘Let’s get together and feel all right…’
…and that is exactly what happened last Sunday when we celebrated Magenta’s 10th anniversary at our workshop and performance, followed by tea and celebratory cakes a gogo. Our birthday celebration featured as part of the Moseley Festival and took place at the Birmingham Buddhist Centre in the large Shrine Room; an acoustically friendly space which had our harmonies dancing
round the room!
Singing alongside our current choir members, were friends, family and those who just wanted to ‘have a go’. It was especially good to see several former choir members who had come to join us, adding a touch of nostalgia and indeed amazement as two are now living in Hong Kong and the USA!
The song chosen for this year’s workshop was “One Love’, freshly arranged in four parts by Liz Garnett, our founder and director. After two hours and expert teaching by Liz we delivered the world premier of the song, in true performance style, to our invited audience. Magenta then sang several songs from our repertoire with a finale of ‘Let the River Run’, when we were joined by seven of our former members who added sparkle to the occasion and definitely enhanced our performance.
By the end of the afternoon, we were certainly in need of some serious sustenance and delighted to find tables heaving with an assortment of tempting delicacies and pots of tea ready to refresh our participants. The atmosphere was lively and convivial and the mood was perfectly set to show our appreciation to Liz, with carefully chosen gifts as a thank you from the members of Magenta for all her energy, enthusiasm and expertise over the last ten years.
So, a special anniversary celebrated in a special way with a nod to a special person…and we were all able to say with confidence that we did get together and we did feel all right!
Magenta’s foray into the world of folk came to fruition this weekend with an exciting performance in the Folk Class at the Cheltenham Festival of Performing Arts.
In a departure from our usual repertoire, two traditional but contrasting folk songs were arranged by director Liz Garnett. The hauntingly beautiful ‘She Moved Through the Fair ‘ told the sad story of a lost love and was described by the adjudicator as an “atmospheric performance”.
The mischievous Irish skipping song ‘I’ll tell me Ma when I get home’ was in complete contrast. Punctuated by sequences of joyfully rhythmic stamps and claps, we hoped that the latter would be as fun to watch as it is to perform. The smiles from the audience confirmed this as did the adjudicator’s comments of “engaging and enjoyable”.
Cheltenham Town Hall provided a beautiful back drop for the class in which the very worthy 100 strong Cor Y Gleision (http://cardiffblueschoir NULL.co NULL.uk/) from Wales were eventual winners.
All in all, a rewarding and uplifting experience.
Myra Connell writes:
Yes, it’s true: it will be ten years in September since Liz put out fliers (I picked mine up at the Moseley Exchange while waiting for another group to start) asking for people to join a female close-harmony choir. She was going to call it Magenta because it’s a colour that mixes two others – blue and red – and in the same way her vision for the choir was that it would mix all sorts of people. They didn’t need to be singers already, they didn’t need to be able to read music yet: all they needed (in one of Liz’s unique but now-familiar turns of phrase) was ‘up-for-it-ness’.
And now here we are, ten years later, having gone from strength to strength. We are known locally for our Christmas sets at the Mac craft fair, the Co-op, and other venues. We have won prizes at festivals, we have topped the bill at the Parkinsons UK concerts for the past several years, and most importantly perhaps, we have improved our musicianship, had a lot of fun, and made lasting friendships.
No doubt there will be more celebrations as the year goes on, but the party starts at the Moseley Festival, when on Sunday 3 July we will be hosting one of our famous workshops in which we all learn from scratch a song arranged specially in four parts by Liz, and then perform it to our friends and relations. There will also be a chance to hear some of the songs from our current repertoire, and (we are very excited about this) we are hoping that some former members will join us to sing one of the pieces that has been in our repertoire all along. And then we will have tea and cakes!
We would love you to join us.
The venue is the Birmingham Buddhist Centre on Park Road in Moseley, and the workshop starts at 2 pm. Come to that, or just come at 4 o’clock for the concert and cakes.
Workshop £5 (women only for voice reasons, under-sixteens welcome when accompanied by a participating adult). Concert and cakes free and open to all. More information and booking: firstname.lastname@example.org (workshop null@null magenta NULL.sandfordsolutions NULL.com)
Myra Connell writes:
Ammalife is a charity which works to support mothers all over the world, to help make childbirth safer. Tuesday 8th March is International Women’s Day, 6th March is Mothering Sunday, and on Saturday 5th, Ammalife were collecting in town. What better time for Magenta to come to Birmingham city centre to help raise funds?
So… if you had passed the Bull at 2pm, you would have heard amidst the usual Bullring bustle and noise the lone voice of Vicki above the hubbub: ‘Anybody / find me / somebody to love’. Then three more voices emerged to join her, and a few seconds later others could be heard, seemingly from amongst the shoppers… Magenta were singing Queen as a flash-mob!
Soon the choir formed. An Ammalife collecting bucket was placed in front of us, and then we were into another five numbers, ranging from smoochy ‘God only knows’ to jolly ‘Bear Necessities’ and carefree ‘Upside Down’.
We like to think that we drew people into our world: there were happy smiles, and the sun came round the corner of the roof onto our faces. It was a pleasure to support such a good cause, and we wish Ammalife well with their invaluable work.
Our next stop will be New Street Station, where we will showcase our two newest songs before performing them at the Cheltenham Festival in May.
Watch this space for details of date and time!
Christine Mandelberg writes:
Imagine our surprise just before last Christmas when we were invited to perform the whole song repertoire from the film Dirty Dancing as part of the MAC (https://macbirmingham NULL.co NULL.uk/) Valentine’s Event (https://macbirmingham NULL.co NULL.uk/event/valentines-day-2016-meal/) on Saturday 13th February. A tall order for any choir! As performing at MAC is a firm favourite with Magenta singers we were determined to find a solution to the challenge.
The usual MAC hustle and bustle had been replaced by a quiet and romantic atmosphere for the occasion so our objective was enhance rather than disturb the ambience whilst guests dined in the Bridges Café. In complete contrast to our concert at St Mary’s Church in Moseley last month where we performed to a large audience, we chose an unobtrusive position where we could be heard rather than seen and where guests would be aware of something rather pleasant taking place, rather than being distracted from food and conversation by having a performance too “up close and personal”. It felt appropriate not to make the usual introduction and announcements between songs and these short, silent pauses further added to the whole atmosphere.
To set the scene for the showing of the film we incorporated a newly commissioned version of ‘Kellerman’s Anthem’ (specially arranged by Liz Garnett for the occasion) with love songs from our repertoire such as ‘If You’re Not the One’, ‘Let There be Love’, ‘God Only Knows’ and our quartet also performed the haunting and dreamy ‘Feelin Good’.
We hope we were able to contribute to the success of the evening. Thanks to staff at MAC for providing their hospitality and comfort for our warm-up. We look forward to next time, whether it be the Christmas Craft Market or another Valentine’s Event!