Great first night! Songs from Africa and England….

We had our very first singing session last night and it great fun. We had 27 singers, and a real mix of voices. I felt very privileged to be working with such an interesting and diverse group of people. We had a lovely mix of ages, and nationalities too. I think being near the University is good, as we get a handful of international postgrads and students, which makes for an interesting mix along with more York ‘long termers’ such as myself!

We started with Bella Mama, a good warm up round (probably originating from Polynesia according to one web source), and then learnt a two part harmonisation of The Grey Funnel Line, an English folk song by Cyril Tawney. We then finished with Sithi Molweni, a simple rhythmic song from South Africa, from the Xhosa people, who form the second largest ethnic group in South Africa after the Zulus. This piece was in the Bantu language, spoken by 7.6 million people according to Wikipedia .

So I’m looking forward to next week – we’ll recap what we’ve learnt, and move on to Plovi Barko, a beautiful Croatian folk song setting in 4 parts. I’ve also got my eye on another African song, Somagwaza, and a great setting of The Parting Glass, an Irish folk song, for the following couple of weeks. I might well try a couple of compositions from my own Shoreline songs, composed in 2016.

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