Ryedale Voices go online

by Handymag

Ryedale Voices is a mixed voice community choir of 65 members from Malton, Norton and surrounding towns and villages.

The choir is run by Alison Davis of Harmonia and conducted by Richard Kay, Musical Director of the Sound Fellows from York. Ryedale Voices have only just passed their first anniversary and were set for an exciting year with their debut concert planned for the end of May. Naturally, this has had to be cancelled for now. However, this doesn’t mean that the choir has suspended all activity.

For many choir members, singing is a big part of their lives and when the lockdown was introduced they really missed it and the camaraderie of their choir. So Richard decided to explore the possibility of ‘virtual rehearsals’ via the online meeting platform Zoom. The primary purpose was to tackle any potential feelings of isolation by keeping the choir members connected, but Richard was also keen to keep people singing and to keep repertoire fresh. Zoom sessions are a different experience to normal rehearsals, although it gives the choir something to focus on and gets the brain cells working!

One choir member comments, “It’s Tuesday evening. Forty five choir members join the online meeting, and in no time our living room is filled with greetings, laughter and some upside down faces as we tweak the tech and wave vigorously to our choir buddies. It is a night of teaching, rehearsing, sharing… and comedy…it’s always a hoot!”

Many of our singers are not particularly tech savvy and yet we have overcome these boundaries and have managed to regularly achieve between 40 and 55 singers on Tuesday rehearsals over recent weeks. Richard decided that the next challenge should be to write, learn and record a video of a brand new song relevant to the current situation we find ourselves in. He wanted to keep the feeling of this song positive and so composed a piece called “Keep Singing”.

Over the next few rehearsals, we learned this song and were joined by singers from other choirs to make this a joint York-Malton collaboration between singers from; The Ryedale Voices, YPMVC, Harmonia, The Sound Fellows and the Scarcroft Parent’s Choir. A “virtual recording” of “Keep Singing” is now available to hear and view on The Ryedale Voices Facebook page.

Another choir member comments, “With creativity, leadership and encouragement, it all works so well. Apart from those choir members who are unable to join online we have not lost anything. We have kept something quite special – companionship and the joy of singing together. I love every bit of it!”

There are some singers for whom the online sessions are not manageable. Therefore, Alison and Richard have recorded piano and vocal parts to email out to every choir member. This enables everyone to practise at their own pace from home and not miss out on learning new repertoire.

One of our sopranos tells us, “I’ve set aside an hour a week to practise singing using these materials. It works for me. I find it easy to practise my part and then hear how my soprano part fits in with the whole choir. I’m disciplined enough to do this and enjoy it. I don’t want to feel I’ve missed out by not learning more recent songs. It’s fine and fun providing my husband is strictly out of earshot!”

When normal rehearsals resume, Ryedale Voices would very much like to welcome some more men to the choir. There are no auditions and singers are given practise tracks to help them learn at home, so no prior experience is necessary. If you think you might like to join the choir then please get in touch with Alison on 07789 695165, alisondavis1@hotmail.co.uk or contact through our Facebook page Ryedale Voices. Twitter @VoicesRyedale

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