The last few weeks have whizzed by – often the case with such a full and varied schedule. Highlights of 2023 so far have included hearing my Community Singers sing my own setting of “Composed in a Wood”, running a shanty-tastic Musical Bridges session with Chris Bartram, and getting started on the “Julius Caesar” project on the RSC and York Theatre Royal, but every day brings a new singing-related memorable moment for me. Lots of food for thought already this year, and lots of plots and plans being formed.
THE JOSEPH ROWNTREE THEATRE – COMMUNITY CHOIR FESTIVAL – 8TH AND 9TH MARCH
Fast approaching is the Community Choir festival, where 2 of my choirs get the chance to perform in a lovely theatre alongside other choirs. It is wonderful to see the wide range of choirs available for people who wish to sing…
“those who wish to sing, will always find a song……and a choir!”
Even in our little market town of Easingwold, there are 4 regular groups, with dozens more in York and the surrounding area. Everyone has different tastes in music, enjoys different styles of music and of course different styles of leadership. I am so pleased with the wide range of singers that choose me and my groups, and I am delighted that my Community Singers membership has reached 50 for the first time ever.
150 FIELDSINGS AND A TRIP TO LONDON
January saw me take a train to London to meet with the RSC music department and other creatives from their Julius Caesar tour – the start of an exciting project involving local community champions in their forthcoming performances. It was interesting to hear all about the director’s vision for the production and meet the other local MDs….and the following week, I was inspired to meet my 6 community champions. Six women who were all picked for their work in the local community – all with their own stories to tell and skills to contribute. I’m really looking forward to working with them in the next few months leading up to the performances in June at York Theatre Royal. It was also wonderful to reconnect with my partner in choir leader crime Mary for an invaluable catch up, and a swim of course!
Last weekend saw me broadcast my 150th #fieldsing . For nearly 3 years now, I have performed a song outside every weekend (sometimes several songs!)in all weathers. Through all of life’s ups and downs, this has been a constant in my life since March 2020. Through low times and happier times, even through Covid when I sang croakily from my backyard. You’ll see #fieldsing 150 below, or check Facebook for the full chat. https://fb.watch/iBWqFGrkiV/
I don’t think I’ll stop – but I do have ideas on how I am going to take the #fieldsing and #fieldsinger concept further. It is such a therapeutic concept and I would like to develop some resources to help people benefit as much as I have, and help people find and develop their authentic voices.
Next week, I am taking a week off and going on a much anticipated family trip to Scotland. I am really looking forward to some fresh air, scenery, and the company of my long-suffering family.
Thanks for reading and hope to sing with you sometime soon,
On 28th March 2020, with all my forthcoming performances and choir sessions cancelled, even outdoor park sings, I had the idea of sharing a solo “field sing” on Facebook, with me singing a well known song for people to enjoy listening to or singing along with at home.
Here I am….
This seemed to go down quite well with online followers, friends, and my choir singers, and even inspired one of my “Singing For All” group, Harry Waterworth, to create a watercolour fieldsinger portrait! I was so touched by this and I think he captured my first fieldsing really well. This first #fieldsing now has over 2300 views on Facebook.
So I decided to continue – the next week I recorded “You’ve got a friend”, then “Wild Mountain Thyme”, “My love is like a red red rose” and “Fields of gold”. These were all pre-recorded then posted on Facebook and You Tube at 10am each Saturday morning.
Then in week 6, something changed……I had had a particularly busy week (if I remember rightly ,it was the week I performed a 26 song singathon for Dementia Forward!) and hadn’t had a chance to think about recording a song. So , for the first time, I performed the field sing live! This meant a little added pressure and a few nerves, but also it added something special to the event and I had lots of positive comments about the heightened armosphere of a live performance. I also really enjoyed seeing a few people join in live, reacting and commenting as I sang. The field sing idea was never intended to be a “perfect performance” but a natural one, singing with the birds, in all weathers. Here is the first “live” #fieldsing – “The fields of Athenry”.
Since then, I have never looked back.
Every Saturday, whatever the weather, I have gone outside, to fields, lanes, woods, and performed whatever song seemed apt at the time. Some weeks I have a song in mind all week, some weeks I decide 5 minutes before I leave the house or even as I walk to the field!
Some weeks, I chat for a while about my week, and any forthcoming events that people can get involved with ; other weeks I don’t feel like chatting much so will quickly get on to the chosen song.
Some weeks, I feel upbeat and energetic – others more reflective, and the song choices reflect this. I decided to record all the field sing choices I have done so far to mark the 50th #fieldsing last Saturday- here is the list…
Lean on me
You’ve got a friend
Wild Mountain Thyme
My love is like a red, red rose
Fields of gold
Fields of Athenry
It’s a lovely day tomorrow / Look for the silver lining
My favourite mash-up!
She moved through the fair
Catch the wind
Sing / Teach the world to sing
When you’re smiling
Blackbird / In my life
Edelweiss / A bell is no bell
Yesterday once more
I have a dream
World of our own
Top of the world
Keep right on to the end of the road
Those who wish to sing
I wish I knew how it would feel to be free
Some kind of wonderful
Stand by me
A little peace
Spread a little happiness
Love me tender
May your cup always be full
My love my life
In the bleak mid winter
Mary, did you know?
The angel Gabriel
Something inside so strong
The water is wide
Bridge over troubled water
Drunken Sailor / Sailing
I have a dream
You’ll never walk alone
Falling in love with you
After the rain
LEAN ON ME
..It was only when I went to write all the songs down that I realised I had performed “I have a dream” twice! But no apologies for the repetition of my first #fieldsing choice, “Lean on me” for my 50th week. Bill Withers’ lyrics are so so relevant…..
“lean on me, when you’re not strong, I’ll be your friend, I’ll help you carry on, for, it won’t be long , ’til I’m gonna need somebody to lean on.”
#fieldsing 50 – a repeat of lean on me, with a list of all the songs performed so far #inafield
The whole fieldsing idea has prompted me towards other online singing projects and challenges. While away in Norfolk last Summer, I performed morning #seasongs for 5 consecutive days on my solo walks.
Leading up to Christmas, I performed a song live every day in December for my #Adventsingalong in aid of Singing For All, helping me to raise funds to keep Singing For All with Jessa CIC going through these lean times.
These structured routines of singing at particular times have really kept me going. Although I am generally very lucky with my health, like most people, I have had rough times and down days through all this. But each Saturday, I know I am going to get up and out to sing. Having this expectation of myself has really helped keep me motivated – and we all know that singing makes you feel better!
It is so true for me, and from some of the encouraging comments I have had, the fieldsings have had an uplifting effect on listeners too.
All this has also led to an exciting collaboration with my better half, my actor husband Mick, who has been reciting poetry down country lanes throughout the lockdowns. Together, we have created a show inspired by our outdoor performance, “Fields and lanes”, which we are very excited to be performing at Helmsley Arts Centre this Saturday – a live stream performance. Although I regularly perform live on You Tube and Facebook, the idea of performing our full show in an empty theatre is a strange thought…
Any any case, we are both very excited about it and hope that lots of our friends will be buying tickets to tune in and support. This time, we have also recruited some more performers to the outdoor performing craze, with our creative fields and lanes project! These fellow actors and singers will be appearing in the show virtually and it has been really moving to put together their contributions and to collaborate with them. These colleagues are wide-ranging ; they hail from all over the country from Essex to the North-East, and range from experienced professional performers to avocational singers seeking a new experience. It has been so valuable to have every one of them on board and to spread the joy of performing outdoors. If you would like to join us, here’s how…
Sometime on Saturday, will be #fieldsing 51….leading up to a full year of field singing and a full year of online singing performances, classes and lessons . A year which has seen me develop and embrace so many different skills and ways of working.
My next step will be to negotiate the next 6 months….continuing to use all I have learned and continuing to engage people from a wide area, while gradually reintroducing “real life” aspects of my work.
A huge challenge…watch this space for developments!