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October 14, 2003

The London Times

(This journalist tries a cruise)

“Do the sopranos think the tenors are just a tiny bit flat on the last note?” asks Sir David Willcocks with a twinkle in his 83-year-old eye.

My mother and I are on a cruise of the Baltic with a Concerts from Scratch choir. The choir met for the first time as we sailed out of Dover aboard the Greek cruiser Triton, and 2,800 nautical miles later we have bonded into a harmonious unit, able to sing the most complicated of Renaissance madrigals. There are no auditions — an enjoyment of singing and an ability to read music are all that is required. Most of the 145 singers belong to their local choirs and a few are conductors; several people bring non-singing partners. Everybody soon makes friends and connections.

“Sometimes I put a hanky on my head to see how long it is before singers notice — it is remarkable how rarely they remember to look at the conductor,” Sir David says. Nobody is dismissed from his Scratch choirs, so I ask him what happens if someone really cannot sing. “That’s simple. If it is, say, a soprano, I say that their voice is so good that the tenors need their help; you can’t hear a soprano trying to sing among tenors. Or I might move a good tenor to the middle of the altos to improve them all.” I am amazed at what a good conductor can do to tighten up a motley bunch of singers and bring the anthems and madrigals alive. More

Posted by acapnews at October 14, 2003 2:33 PM


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