By Jenny Parks & Pauline Emery
Noon, a great mass of humans milling about at the Raven. Four sets of singers (us, Canu Conwy, Caldy Valley Voices and Contrand) plus their families, pets and groupies. Ruth lures as many as she can into the marquee and the warm up starts. Now then, this tree which rattles? Maybe that just happens in Ireland because as a lover of trees and a resident of Y Gors (The Bog), I have not come across this phenomenon. Warm up it did and doubled up as a Biology Lesson; I was red hot and exhausted as it finally finished.
A dozen or so of choir members set off across the fields and over the River Alun on the old clapper bridge and up the narrow Nant footpath with archaeological remains from Lead-Mining and wild Gooseberries, Bluebells and Wood Anemones. Big queue for oh so welcome drinks at The Sun Inn and then into another marquee to sing. Before we performed, a farewell gift of a black wooden metronome ( to match her black piano), was presented to Heather (wearing a black dress). Heather was our pianist for 8 years; she taught Cory who is our present excellent pianist.
Easy walking along the lane with its wild orchids to our next destination, The Rose and Crown, where there was already quite a crowd outside, enjoying the sunshine, Rod’s fine ales and munching on pork pies. Six children perched atop a stone wall like sparrows in a row to get a high-level view of proceedings. Other children that had been ‘lost’, were found, to the relief of all. Not lost in fact, just gone before, to the Rose instead of the Sun.
Big Chief Louise (Martin) arrived, feathers flying, resplendent in 60th birthday headdresss and diamante glasses. Singers swathed in Eurovision flags (theme of the day) assembled while a tractor, the bus, two choir minibuses, multiple cars and crowds blocked the road to baffled passers-by from time to time.
Côr Dewi Sant performed a capella on the back doorstep of the pub to a crowd in the car park that seems to get bigger every year here. New pieces – Driftwood and Senzeni Na (arranged by Ruth’s SfP friends Don Gillthorpe and Rebecca Berkley) seemed to go down well and the crowd joined in with welsh favourite Calon Lân, ably conducted by Owain Morgan (Ruth’s assistant conductor at Canu Conwy). Down in the River to Pray was sung especially to Rod, who managed to look surprised and delighted with its line about the Rose and Crown, even though we do it every year. Sue Hallows sang out in the outdoors like a real rock chic in her solos for Don’t Look Back in Anger and Suzanne Deary was so focussed on conducting it she never noticed when her sunglasses flew off. Louise shared the birthday honours with Margaret, 70, and both were serenaded with Penblwydd Hapus at every pub.
Then it was off for a ramble up the dingle onto the bluebell and blossom-strewn lanes, past fields of golden dandelions in the balmy sunshine to reach the Raven. Four gallant Raven staff held off the thirsty hoards many deep at the bar for a good two hours. After Côr Dewi Sant performed there was a little lull while we waited for Caldy Valley Singers and Contraband to appear from the hills for the grand finale (Contraband had fitted in visits to 6 different pubs!). The sun faded and jackets were donned as flags fluttered in a sneaky wind, but the chill in the air was soon dispelled when the singing got going again, undiminished despite the choral demands of the day. Caldy Valley took us to milder climes, California Dreaming. Contraband hit the stage and when they asked, ‘Can you feel the love tonight?’, the tentful couldn’t resist joining in, although as Jason said when their harmonies stumbled, “its really hard if you join in in a different key!”. Prosecco to blame for that, no doubt. Later the Weebag Band led us a merry dance of bumping belly buttons in the marquee and Contraband sang on through their repertoire in the bar. Sometimes, once you start singing, you just can’t stop.
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