I used to feel guilty about the large portion of my time and income devoted to various craft hobbies,
but eventually I realised that I am stress-busting - and it's cheaper than therapy!
Wednesday, 19 December 2012
An unexpectedly entertaining carol service
Last night we attended the school’s annual carol service, an
impressive and traditional event in a large parish church that includes
readings, audience singing of hymns, and musical interludes from two choirs and
a six piece brass ensemble.
The first glorious performance is always ‘Once in Royal
David’s City’ with solo soprano boy’s voice.Although, annoyingly, there were still latecomers arriving onto our
balcony seating area as the music started.
As the audience joined in at the appropriate point, I was
startled to hear a rich, trained, deep baritone voice from the row behind me,
away to my left.Looking around, I
realised it was a former student come back from university to attend the
service.I remember that this boy always
sang in all of the school’s concerts and vocal ensembles, and it was a delight
to hear his rich enunciation and powerful true tones.
The latecomers got themselves settled and we had a couple of
readings and some performances from the choir.Then it was time for the next audience-participation carol.
I listened with anticipation for the lovely baritone and he
did indeed start singing, but suddenly from behind me came a loud but reedy man’s
voice, in a somewhat higher register.It
was one of the latecomers: an older man
(sixties?) who had taken a seat directly behind me, sharing the same
almost-empty pew as the baritone with a gap of about four feet between them.
Older-guy seemed to feel competitive because he became
louder and louder along with the baritone’s powerful voice. Only Older-guy wasn’t
content to just sing the melody.Older-guy was being very inventive and singing lots of descants and
harmonies and trills – only not very well, not always in tune with the music,
and with occasional cracking of his voice.
Baritone-guy got louder and so did Older-guy (still
trilling) until the two of them were virtually bellowing along to the song, and
by then I was trying so hard not to laugh that my programme was shaking.But youth will win out: Older-guy was running
out of steam by the end of the song, and I would say Baritone-guy took that
For the next few audience songs, Older-guy seemed to have
settled down, and was more or less singing along with Baritone-guy (both still
But then we reached ‘Hark the Herald Angels Sing’, with its
final verse traditionally sung at full pelt with choir soaring above the
audience with wonderful harmonies and the brass instruments following
suit.Baritone-guy was obviously
prepared and upped his already loud volume by about 25%.Older-guy, determined not to be outdone, also
upped his volume considerably (although it was a strain for him and his voice
was cracking a bit) and started crazy harmonies again.
With both of them bellowing along in full voice, they were
so loud that they were actually hurting my ears and completely drowning out the
entire brass section and the c.30-member choir so that we couldn’t hear any of
the harmonies. It was like a wall of
sound blasting us from behind and completely ludicrous. I was outright laughing
by this point but also a bit annoyed that we couldn’t hear the choir and brass.
At the end of the concert, I watched to see if the two
singers would interact, but they completely ignored each other and departed the
pew in opposite directions.
So a much more entertaining carol service than usual,
although not for the best reasons.I
couldn’t help thinking that Baritone-guy is going to be an embarrassment to his
wife and children once he has them, and Older-guy probably already has
been.I also wonder if Older-guy fancies
himself the leading light of his local church but when I suggested that to DH,
it was met with the alternate suggestion that Older-guy has been kicked out of
all the local churches and thus has to come to show off at a school carol
Merry Christmas, and may your carol services be equally