The much anticipated workshop by Dr. Albert Bradshaw took place on Thursday 9th April. Some of us were already acquainted with the teacher, choirmaster and adjudicator, others waited with some trepidation. We were well primed by our own conductor Deirdre in advance. After a short warm-up the maestro went to work weaving his magic and creating sounds none of us thought possible. He cajoled, manipulated and jollied us along, all the time working on various aspects of the songs – diction, breathing and dynamics.
Our “Nonsense Songs” came in for particular scrutiny. Since they are so short, we were encouraged to sing crisply, with an emphasis on “engaging the audience” in the quirky stories. “Were you there?” has now a swing and swagger throughout with the Basses digging deep to belt out their part as would a Gospel choir. The rhythm was worked on to great effect and with some tweaking around the edges all that’s missing is a cry of Alleluia! Praise the Lord! However we’ll try and restrain ourselves.
Moving on to “Cibavit Eos”. It wasn’t long before fault lines began to show, some expected, others not anticipated. A lot was done to improve the overall sound and pace but it proved to be our weakest link. Finally, came the highlight of the evening – “God so loved the World”. Since this is a simple and melodic tune, it needs to convey the message in an expressive and dynamic way. Trying to achieve the quiet moments, choosing the appropriate colour and tone demands concentration. However, some truly moving passages did happen which made the struggle worthwhile. I hope Albert and Deirdre felt the same!
The evening ended on a high. We all went home to reflect on the advice, techniques and improvements we can make before we face the the Cork Choral Festival. We offer our heartfelt thanks to Albert for his enthusiasm, patience and wise words.