Solway Singers’ success at Carlisle Music & Drama Festival, March 2016
  • March 15, 2016
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Solway Singers’ success at Carlisle Music & Drama Festival, March 2016

Solway Singers were busy practicing for Carlisle Music and Drama Festival early this year.  Monday March 7th until Saturday 12th marked the week-long event, and the tension mounting as the week approached, with many members of the choir busily occupied ‘behind the scenes’ with cake making, stewarding, refreshment selling, tuning pianos and so forth… and not least our lovely accompanist Avril Tisdall rushing around and having to sort out last minute problems, as she is currently Chair of the Festival Committee as well as one of the official accompanists.

As you would expect, not only was the choir kept occupied with the organisation of the Festival but we were also singing.  As last year Musical Director Antony Peacock insisted that we sing everything by heart, including Rachmaninov’s Bogoroditse Devo (Ave Maria) in the original Old Church Slavonic.  It was just as well he did however as nearly every other choir who sang in the two classes we entered also performed from memory: no excuses not to watch the conductor!

We were overjoyed to come first (jointly with QEGS Chamber Choir) in the Open Choirs class, with our performance of Oh No John! (arr. Eric Thiman) and My Delight and Thy Delight by Hubert Parry.  Last year we were a close second, so to be joint winners this year – and take home ‘half’ of the Canon Rawnsley Shield – had the choir leaping up in their seats and hugging each other, in a way reminiscent of but with less shirt-stripping than footballers (in fact we were altogether more restrained but equally delighted).

Equal excitement arose the following night when vocal group Eight + 1, which comprises several members of Solway Singers, came first in the ‘Open Vocal Ensembles’ class.  The group sang Shearing’s Live with Me and Be my Love, and were overjoyed to be placed above long-established and highly musical groups such as the Brampton Consort.  We’re quite sure that Top Tips we have learned from Mr Peacock have helped us.

In the solo vocal classes, Solway Singers was incredibly proud of Deborah Hewertson-Tisdall, who sings First Alto with the choir, who not only came first in Songs from the Shows, Oratorio and British Composer but went on to win the Cumberland News Trophy (competed for by winners from 5 classes) and the Joe Wallace salver for the highest marks in two classes.  Her sideboard will be groaning with silverware.

Soprano Sarah LewisBriggs obtained second place in three classes, and Sarah and Deborah along with Chris Hardman also came 3rd in the Open Vocal Ensemble class with Mozart’s beautiful Soave Sia Vente.  Sarah and Deborah, accompanied by Avril, can be heard singing a programme of duets and solos in Lanercost Priory as part of Lanercost Festival in June.

Meanwhile Solway Singers, having been allowed one week off by a happy Musical Director, are now starting work on their programme for concerts in May.  The choir will also be recording various pieces, so watch this space for YouTube links and for details of where to buy the CD.

And… if you wish to hire the choir to perform at your church or other venue, contact either Anthony Peacock (Choral Director) or Geraint Howell (Chairman).




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