Monday, 25 March 2013

Singing for Ugandan Children in a Cold Church in Bishops Cannings.

We had only two hours on Saturday afternoon in rehearse John Rutter's "Requiem," for a performance at 7.30pm that same evening.   No mean task, and it was a "Scratch Concert" after all, and  after a hesitant start in the evening, we all sang extremely well, with the expected mistakes!   I have sung this work before, and as with most music, it looks deceptively easy on paper, but singing it with expression and contrast is another matter!   It has many tricky discords and subtle key changes, but when sung correctly, it sounds wonderful.   Our rendition was good in parts!   To the left is the programme cover, showing school children in a village in Uganda, who will benefit from the money raised by this concert, to support their school, homes, and to provide the general necessities of life that we, in Great Britain,  take so  much for granted.  

The evening opened with a short talk about the aims of "African Dream," and information about recent developments in the small Ugandan village.  The guest speaker, Hillary Kabanza, who lives with his family in the village, and who is studying theology in England,  thanked everyone for their fund raising efforts.  The financial support enables children to lead comfortable lives, be well fed, clothed and educated.  We live our daily lives in England, never really appreciating just how very lucky we are.  Each of the 60 singers in the choir paid £5 each to sing, with an audience ticket costing £6.   The money raised after some expenses, will go to the village school, mission and to support its children. 

 The view from the font of some of the singers, mostly from Dauntsey's School and the Church choir,  during the afternoon tea break.

The church was cold, even though the heating was fully on, but recent temperatures have been so low, that two huge space heaters would have been needed to make an impression on warming the cavernous space of the nave.  Instead of wearing our pretty black outfits for the evening performance, we all wore black overcoats, layers of black jumpers and fleeces, with blue scarves around our necks, to add a touch of colour to a very cold winter/spring evening.

The village hall near the church, with its thatched roof.

Between the rehearsal and the concert, some of the choir enjoyed hot tea and nibbled cakes in the pretty little village hall, originally built in 1830.  The parish of Bishops Cannings is the third largest in Wilshire, but was formerly much larger.  It once reached into Devizes, 2.5 miles away, and gave rise to the legend, that the good folk of Bishops Cannings  are true  "Moonrakers,"  a name given to those who are born and bred in Wiltshire. 

The church of St Mary the Virgin, Bishops Cannings on a cold Saturday evening.

A Saxon church was established on this site in 1091, and after its demise, a Norman building was constructed in the 12th century, with the tower added in the 13th.  In 1602 the church had a peal of six bells, and gained a reputation for the fine sound of its bells, and the singing of its choir and congregation.  In the mid 19th century, a former resident gave £1000 to the church, which included £400 for the purchase of a new organ.  The church was extensively restored during the Victorian era, leading to the loss of many fine medieval and older features.  On a warm day it provides a wonderful space in which to sing.

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