A singer’s blog: Noel, Noel…

2 January 2019

When the song list for ‘Christmas Starts Here’ was first announced I remember fellow bass Barry saying, “It’ll be a lot to learn but as long as we can remember, “Noel”, we’ll be fine!” Of course, it wasn’t quite that simple but with the earworms still ding donging merrily on high, I can look back, as ever, to a great day culminating in a cracker of a concert.

So, first of all, let’s go back to that ‘Noel’ word. We all know it featured (very) prominently in one of the songs from the first half. No prizes for saying it was ‘Sing Noel’! However, for Question 1 of this year’s Inspiration (now post-) Christmas Quiz, take a guess at how many separate times the word was sung. Was it a) 64, b) 76 or c) 92? (Answers at the bottom.)

Question 2: Again no points, or prizes, for knowing that the song which featured the second most frequent use of ‘Noel’ was the epic, ‘Pure Light, Perfect Light’. Once more, can you guess how many ‘Noels’ appeared in that twelve minute, mega-midwinter-mashup? Was it a) 25, b) 28 or c) 33?

Last question - 3: The word ‘Noel’ actually appeared in only one other song in this year’s concert. Which song was that? (Clue: the word was sung just once, by the basses.) Was it a) Sing Christmas; b) Silent Night; or c) O Little Town?

So, now we all know that the cracker joke got it wrong when it said, “There's No L in Christmas”, what else can we report on the sparkle and tingle of ‘Christmas Starts Here’? Well, for us in Southampton a number of ‘firsts’…

With the O2 Guildhall already booked, it was the first concert in the new venue of Central Hall. After the bleak midwinter of the glacial changing rooms we were won over by the warmth of the reception from the closer than usual audience. Being on three sides may have put Pete in a spin but it certainly boosted the ambiance.

The second of this year’s firsts was to have the whole programme signed. Thanks then to Katherine Mount for not only being our signer but also a solo singer! The Kleenex quotient of the concert was boosted by the beautiful rendition of her own composition, ‘Ethan’s Song’.

As if that wasn’t enough, the whole choir joined Catherine in using BSL, for the first time, to sign the final silent verse of ‘Silent Night’.

After a few weeks of cold winter’s nights there were a quite a few sore throats and even one or two unavoidable absentees. But, come concert night, we were, as ever, and particularly in the final few numbers with encouragement from Pete, keen to make every forte a fortissimo. I suspect I wasn’t the only one who ended up with barely any voice to say my final farewells and Merry Christmasses.

Alan Matlock
Bass, Inspiration Southampton

Answers to the mini-quiz: 1, c) ; 2, c) ; 3, a).

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