From Room to Zoom! written by Maureen Kershaw

Dear all,

From Room to Zoom! i’ve joined the Chorus of ‘Opera North’ No you won’t see me on stage in their next production – this is ‘From Couch to Chorus’ an invitation via ‘Caring Together’s’ web post. Rehearsals involve one hour a week on Zoom with homework at one’s leisure ; yet another event to come out of Lockdown. Registering was easy, stating which ‘Voice’, in my case Alto, with help given to non-singers to determine their range. I anticipated a good turnout of Altos but was amazed – as were Opera North, that we numbered  470! ‘Chat’ messages came up on my lap top screen,  “Hi I’m from Roundhay” or “Headingley” – but one group of singers were in Australia! They continued with “Anyone from ‘Inspirations Choir?” and “Any Barbershoppers out there?” which were funny questions anyway as they couldn’t save seats and sit next to each other! Jenny, our Host gave an introductory talk about the project followed by a ‘warm-up’ I hadn’t taken into consideration that there would be a physical as well as vocal warm-up so had made the mistake of sitting next to the wall which didn’t help with arms stretching up “and arms down to your side” which meant I could only use one arm properly.  Today I may even stand up, though it isn’t compulsory yet, unlike many other things at the moment!

We sang through a few pages of ‘Va Pensiero’ and ‘Habanera’ from ‘Nabucco’ and ‘Carmen’ respectively, albeit we were muted so that each singer wouldn’t be distracted by 469 other Altos. Sheet music and recordings had been e-mailed to us prior to rehearsal. For those unable to print the music, it was also shown on screen; plus each voice has a choice of five recordings with which to rehearse for homework. I have been e-mailed the same for a chorus from ‘The Bartered Bride’ so I have been learning as much o’ ‘t’other two’ prior to today’s session. I’ve spent most of my adult life singing in Musicals and with Choirs – never a soloist, just happy to learn challenging harmonies and it’s made me realise just how much I miss it. At the end of the four weeks there will be a final session when all the Sopranos, Altos, Tenors and Basses will – I think – be recorded as one huge Choir! All this is in exchange for an (optional) ‘pay what you feel’ donation to ‘Opera North’s’ funds.

I find it all quite incredible how so many people are brought together by different events, at home, and by Zoom. Not having to turn out in all weathers for the bus to rehearse is equally appealing too!  By the time we reach the end of our Operatic venture, my hibernated voice should hopefully have stopped cracking and croaking and I will be hungry for more. I wonder if ‘Opera North’ will have time for another ‘Couch to Chorus’ before they – hopefully – are back on stage again. I might suggest we tackle Wagner’s ‘Ring Cycle’ next!

A chorus of singers on stage with their arms in the air

You can learn more about the workshops and how to join here.

All the best for today Maureen… until next time