After "Celebrate Surrey" Festival

Sunday 27 June 2010 3.45 pm Celebrating Surrey Festival, Loseley Park, Guildford

Abridged Version of ‘Till The Rivers Cease To Flow' specially written for Elmbridge Mixed Choir

The positives - it was not cold and it was not raining!

So that is what a festival is like - barriers, booths, check-ins, ID wrist bands, portaloos (so no need for peeing on the compost!) and lots going on simultaneously! In all my ...

years, I don't think I have ever been to a festival, as such, before! So this is what it is like at Glastonbury is it - without the mud! And they had the audacity to arrange Glastonbury at the same time as the Celebrating Surrey Festival. What a predicament for people wanting to go to both! I think quite a lot must have tossed a coin and it came down in favour of Glastonbury as I believe there were over 80,000 people there. We had about 80 (or more like half that!) watching us! Judging by the numbers of cars, there were many more people on the site, the mothers, the fathers, the straight and the ga-ay, but where were they all? - inside numerous tents and marquees supporting their own diverse creative artists, not to mention England playing Germany in the World Cup in South Africa being screened at the time of our performance. I don't understand why people were packed like sardines in the stiflingly hot Euphonic Tent opting to cheer and groan at the antics of 22 footballers when they could have been out in the fresh air (well, actually, equally sweltering!) watching, listening and cheering for us! (Read to the end if you want to know the score!)

The negatives - the sun! You would normally expect this to be a positive - after all, this is England and we are usually very pleased to see it! Not on this occasion - a lot of waiting around for our 30 minutes of glory and no let up in the intensity of the sun - over 80 degrees! There was no escaping the heat, although we did manage to find a large tree to offer us some shade. The previous performers overran and by the time we got on stage at about 4 pm the sun had positioned itself so that we were in its full glaring spotlight. If only the organisers had positioned the Main Stage facing the other way round we would perhaps not have got so sizzled!

As the previous artists made way for us, so did their audience and very few newcomers seemed willing to sit it out in the searing heat even though it was the renowned Elmbridge Choir performing! Perhaps it was that we were not listed in the elusive Event Programme under ‘Who's who at the festival', a one paragraph opportunity to sing our own praises - 98 others were listed! Our numbers were depleted too - only 59 of us but, undeterred, we thought watch us as we take to the stage admire out outfit and scarves, forget the World Cup being shown nearby - admire our harmonies so gentle and styled, beautiful, wild - a love story written in sweat and sun-oil with keyboard, sax and choir.

This was to be the second airing of 6 of the 10 songs specially written for us as part of the Creative Communities Project 2010, ‘Till the Rivers Cease to Flow' but with the substitution of the original storyline by some new short spoken links. The Project had demanded a tremendous amount of hard work behind the scenes by Cliff, writers, composers, administrators, committee members etc as well as the choir in rehearsal time, so it was good that we had the opportunity to venture out of Elmbridge with it.

Our moment of glory had come at last - sweat started to trickle, widen and spread - onward it flowed. The sweat rolled on, on to the brow, flowed on you and flowed on me - desperation drove us and fear defined us, visitors, guests, no-one less no-one more, we watched them sit there as they watched us sing, we thought we must be grateful but we'll surely fry. Sky - blue - we were part of the mystery - (Why did they position the Main Stage there and that way round!?) Making our own history - (Cliff said never again - this would be our last festival - we'll see!) And the trade winds they talk of must have been in India, Asia but not in Loseley. However, we gave our usual enthusiastic and high quality performance and after the initial PA gremlins had been chased away the audience could hear us well - even if we couldn't hear ourselves!

At the end, all I wanted to do was to get home to someone who would feed me some Guinness or water me with wine. So our interesting outing to Loseley came to an end. Surrey Arts, Eagle Radio, Surrey Life Magazine - each had a role and each had a reason - sponsorship, PR, publicity, organisation and each of us had a voice, a place in the choir. A choir is not one thing it's a bond between the two, the singers, the leader, the man, the woman, the me and the you.
Meanwhile Cliff (we're nothing without you!) said follow me and I'll stay with you, the bus is leaving soon to carry us on our way - it is 5.15 pm and time runs on, are all of us on board along for the ri-ide? Do do do do.

Germany 4- England 1 (should have been 2 really!)

We sang: Riversong; Flight; Curves; Sowing Seeds; Nothing Without You; Elmbridge Patchwork



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