Singing in the Rain?

Choir Concerts

Last week, on the whole, was going well.  Then suddenly this all changed.  On Wednesday morning a small white envelope was pushed through the letter box and landed quite unassumingly on the door mat.  In today’s world of electronic communication and conversations which all take place in 140 characters or less, this was potentially quite an exciting event.  I took the envelope from its resting place on the hall floor and went into the kitchen to put the kettle on and see what excitement its contents would bring into my life.

Moments later, as the kettle boiled, my excitement was somewhat lessened.  The envelope in fact contained an electricity bill.  Not only that, it was an electricity bill for several million pounds!  Ok, so maybe that’s just a bit of exaggeration.  Nevertheless I instantly went on a rampage to see what was costing so much to power.  The kettle? That could go off instantly – most of my coffee goes cold before I drink it anyway so I may as well not bother heating it up!  The heated floor was already switched off.  The studio was ablaze with flashing lights and screens burning away – but not really much I could do about that.

Then, suddenly I realised the problem. Outside, being a typical British spring morning, it was in fact pouring with rain.  Consequently, all the washing was in the tumble dryer.  This, I have since discovered, is not necessarily the cheapest way of drying the washing.  However, the alternative would be to hang it outside whilst the sun is shining and then sit by the window watching it dry on the basis that, at any moment, it could suddenly pour with rain.  So it would seem, therefore, my exorbitant use of electricity is in fact all the fault of the weather.

The British are renowned for talking about the weather.   But to be fair, the weather has a lot to answer for.  For example I am currently trying to arrange a photograph one of my choirs (The BlueBelles) in amongst some bluebells.  Obviously this means being outside and therefore weather dependent. The current thinking on this project is to just go into the woods anyway and, if it’s raining, use umbrellas in some arty form – that will no doubt be amusing if nothing else!  Looking ahead I notice that I already have a couple of concerts in my diary which are planned to be outside.

In my experience, putting an outdoor concert on is never a wise plan.  Last year for example, we tried this outside the Hospital in Swindon where my NHS choir were singing carols to an assembled crowd.   It was going well, right up to the point when a door closed onto the power cable for the keyboard, which in turn blew up the christmas tree!   Other outdoor choir events have usually ended up with singers all huddled under umbrellas performing to an audience of 3 men and a dog, where even the dog wasn’t listening!

I should have learnt from an experience many years ago when I went to Suffolk to hear Jools Holland and his Band. This particular performance was in the grounds of some historic house or other, and the idea was for the audience to sit around having a stylish picnic on the lawn.  The evening didn’t start particularly well as I hadn’t appreciated that you can’t put ice cream into a cool bag and expect it to remain frozen.  Then, just as I was attempting to clear up the sloppy mess that didn’t really work with my strawberries, the sky darkened, there was a clap of thunder and rain came down by the bucket load.  Moments later there was another loud bang, the stage went into darkness, and Jools Holland went home having sung about 1 song.

So my advice to you all this week, is to think very carefully before deciding to put on an outdoor concert this Summer! If you cannot resist the temptation, rather than planning for glasses of pimms, cream teas and straw boaters, I would make sure your stage has a roof, the electrics are water proof and the audience are all given a free umbrella!

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Jules Addison is Musical Director for The BlueBellesThe Pewsey BellesCirencester Male Voice Choir, The GWH Trust Choir and Transeamus Chamber Choir