Beltane blog from Kirsty
Dear Hulla Folk Near and Far,
It has been lovely to connect with you over the last few weeks, as we have made the transition into the ‘new normal’. At first, I was a bit quiet on the choral front – I found myself oscillating between (global, professional, social, personal) existential grief and a quiet excitement that there would be an ‘unprecedented’ slowing down and stopping place.
The New Normal…
It has been an interesting unfolding in the NaturalVoice world too – some of my colleagues seem to have taken to the cyber world like proverbial ducks to water, pinging out high quality, pitch perfect, close harmony videos and getting Zoom under their belts on Day 2! Others – myself included – have had a longer path to travel. I was a bit cynical about using Zoom for choir sessions to begin with. However, our wonderful Steering Group supported and cajoled and researched, and we took the leap, and I can honestly say that the first few sessions over Easter have been so much better than I thought it would be! It really helps to have my partner, Em, here in harmonic isolation with me. I have been running the sessions, with Em in live harmonic support, and I think that helps to create a sense of live music making – it’s a bit French and Saunders, but hopefully we are all having fun!
Higher & Higher!
You may have seen the fantastic video created by Fran Andre’s choir in Exeter? Their choir – Soul of the City Gospel Choir (yup, I know… there’s another Soul of the City here, in Brighton) has created a video that they have launched to help fundraise for NHS Heroes Support – a wonderful grass roots charity that are sourcing smaller quantities of PPE that the powers that be are unable to source. Fran approached me a few weeks ago, asking if she could use my arrangement (Hulla’s arrangement!) of Higher and Higher by Jackie Wilson for this project. She has done such a great job, that is has inspired me to take the plunge into video making for our summer term (disclaimer – we don’t think our finished product(s) will be on a par with Fran’s – I imagine that ours will be a bit more… Hulla!
To Zoom or not to Zoom?
(the answer is: to Zoom!)
Zoom is a mixed blessing. I am so glad that we had the technology to turn to just when we needed it – and also frustrated by the audio delay! The two main downers are that many of you don’t fancy singing on Zoom, so we lost about half the term’s membership post lockdown, and also that we have had to shelve our plans for our amazing Fringe Festival concert this May (we will be consulting about this very soon). But the high points are many and profound. They include: seeing faces on Zoom who haven’t been to Hulla for years; also welcoming visiting singers to drop in with us; knowing that many of us are in a 12 week lockdown and turning up for them, and not to mention a fascinating nose around our comrades’ bookshelves and kitchens and pets!
And we shall be Zooming our way through the summer term. We know it’s not perfect, but it’s what we have! We still get to see each other, hang out, share warm ups and jokes and tea time (now often something more alcoholic!) and, of course, songs. These are the times when the community in community choirs really comes into its own. Thank you for being there.
An Audio Visual Exploration!
So, to future matters. We have decided to throw all our efforts towards creating a couple of videos and working towards an online sharing of those videos, as well as a ‘front room concert’ on Thursday 16th July (this would have been our end of term gig in ‘real life’). It will still be a fundraiser for Water Aid. It will still be a celebration of choirs getting through this period together and apart. It will be a combination of choir videos and pre recorded guest spots. We got the idea from the very marvellous Folk on Foot Front Room Festival, that Em and I sat quite happily and watched for 7 hours, while colouring in, a few weeks ago! It’s a simple idea and we are looking into the technology to host it on our YouTube channel. I really hope you come on this journey in uncharted cyber waters with us. If you want to help us pull it off, please get in touch! We’d LOVE to hear from you!
The video project, at the moment, looks a bit like this: I would like to make 2 videos featuring Virtual Hulla; one of our favourite pop arrangements, and one of our favourite Sing for Water / water themed songs. As I write, we are about to open the bidding on what pop arrangement and what water song, so stay tuned, as the window for bidding won’t be very long!
Zoom one, Zoom all!
We want as many folk – past present and future Hulla, as well as non Hulla, to get involved! It’ll be a new and hopefully exciting thing – something we have never done before (people have often asked if we could make a CD, and this is as close as we may well get to it!) We will give very clear instructions and we’ll be with you every step of the way! It will be a fabulous testimony to these trying times, of how we continued to create great choral experiences together.
Also, although it features elsewhere on the Hulla website, it is important to acknowledge that people are not only struggling emotionally and socially, but also financially. So, we have lowered the lowest of our fee bands for this term, as we so want as many people as possible to be involved this term. However, if that still doesn’t work for you, then please do get in touch with us. We’re here for you.
Well, that’s all from me, on my first lockdown blog. The rest of my day will be taken up with getting our next Vox Pop radio show ready – I am about to Zoom interview my very wonderful friend and colleague, and incredibly talented and prolific song & video maker, Gitika Partington, for the show – please do have a listen to May’s Vox Pop.
Thanks for reading, for taking an interest and for keeping the faith in these crazy days. Hope to see you on a crowded screen soon!
With love and in harmony