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They Came to Sing!

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On Saturday 26th April, a large group of keen singers gathered at St Mary's Church in Haddenham to prepare a concert performance for charity. Under normal circumstances, this might not seem a particularly unusual occurrence — after all, hundreds of choirs up and down the country do similar things on a regular basis. The difference on this occasion, however, was that learning the parts, all rehearsals and the presentation of a live concert all happened on one single day. Indeed, preparations began at 2.00pm and the concert started at 7.00pm!

The event was organised by professional singer and Haddenham resident, Sheilagh Armitt, and all funds raised from the activity were to support Cancer Research UK. Sheilagh (a Soprano) was supported by fellow professionals Debbie Alder (Contralto), David Walder (Tenor) and Stephen Hamnet (Bass). The rest of the choir, however, comprised a group of 60 amateur singers from Haddenham and surrounding towns and villages — many of them having never even met previously.

They all came together under the baton of conductor Ian Westley, to perform Purcell's Declare His Honour and Haydn's Nelson Mass, accompanied by organist Colin Spinks.

As one might expect, the professional singers provided a stunning lead, while the choir provided rich and well-articulated support.

And what a wonderful, uplifting and fulsome sound they made together — a very special experience for all the audience members, made all the more pleasurable by the resonant acoustics of the ancient Parish church which added significantly to the listeners' enjoyment: an uplifting and truly memorable experience.

Among the singers, perhaps a special mention should go to Stephen Hamnet, who managed to perform the entire repertoire while juggling his two-year-old son on one arm — the youngster having refused to leave his father's side throughout: an endearing feature of a special local event.

As a result of this splendid initiative, over £700 was raised for Cancer Research UK.

(If you click on either of the photographs, they will enlarge for easier viewing)

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