Singing in a choir can bring you to unexpected places, at unexpected times. Like Dollymount Strand, for instance, at seven o’clock on a Sunday morning in May.
Yes, this was our second year participating in The Dawn Chorus, an event in which Active Retirement groups combine with choirs to welcome with song a Summer daybreak, as part of the nationwide Bealtaine Festival.
Last year we had two choirs and many Active Retirees for our Dawn Chorus; this year it was just us, with a dozen or so stalwart guests, who had rehearsed with us for the previous three weeks. And Tim on the tambourine.
Last year we had a beautiful morning with just a few wispy clouds in a blue sky; this year it was cloud, cloud and more cloud. And a stiff breeze. Umm..
Last year the event finished with a beautiful, transcendent moment: as we finished our performance a lark rose from the dunes and burst into the most exquisite song. On and on he sang, as if just bursting with joy to be up and about on this beautiful day. Obviously, inspired by our singing, he just had to join in. Would we have a repeat performance this year?
Anyway, we all convene at the appointed time and place: about thirty singers, together with a (very) loyal group of friends, partners and supporters. Well, a choir has to have an audience, doesn’t it? Lots of fun and laughter as we acknowledge the lunacy of this enterprise. We do our warm-up (physically as well as musically), and on the stroke of 7:30 Deirdre brings us to order.
Our first song, ‘What shall we do with a drunken sailor?’ references the seaside location and the ungodly hour (‘..earlye in the morning’..), and it is given a suitably robust treatment, eliciting a burst of applause from our loyal camp-followers. Or perhaps they were just trying to warm themselves up…?
Encouraged, we carry on, through the sweet harmonies of ‘Amazing Grace’, ‘Plaisir d’Amour’ and ‘Will ye go lassie, go?’ Our next offering, ‘Try a little kindness’, could have been an appeal to the weather: poor Deirdre had to conduct us, facing into a strong wind, spattered with rain. The appeal didn’t work.
And then, our Grand Finale: a rousing rendition of ‘You raised me up’, which provoked such an enthusiastic burst of applause (thank you, thank you, loyal supporters..) that we felt we had to reprise the chorus as an encore. Not a good idea. The Weather Gods decided they’d had enough, and down came the rain in earnest. It doesn’t do to push your luck. As we hurried back to our cars, a seagull or two drifted by, clearly unimpressed. No lark this year, then.
Belinda, one of our guests, had invited us all to ‘bacon butties and coffee’ in her home in Clontarf. What a lovely idea: a bit of warmth and buzz and grub and company, instead of going home to a silent, sleeping house to make your own breakfast, on your own. Entering the lovely, colourful, lived-in kitchen/living area, we each did a double-take: was that Roddy Doyle who was doing the cooking and organising, with his unmistakeable grin? Indeed it was, and there were his lovely children handing around the most delicious bacon butties. And the coffee was great, and the company was just mighty and the kitchen was lovely and warm. Well well. Served breakfast by a Booker Prizewinner: that’s a new experience for me anyway.
As I said, singing in a choir can take you to the most unexpected places, at the most unexpected times.
Thank you Belinda and Roddy for your thoughtfulness and generosity. We had our transcendent moment, after all.