Andover Ladies Choir returned to the prestigious choir competition at MidSomerset Festival on Saturday 11 March 2023. They were delighted to leave with 3 First places and a Runner-Up, whilst also gaining the only Outstanding of the day.
The choir had last competed at the festival in Bath in March 2020, only weeks before the first Covid-19 lockdown, and although they had won two trophies had not been able to celebrate together because after that day their next meetings were on Zoom!
After many more Zoom rehearsals, masked rehearsals and carpark spaced-out meetings, Andover Ladies Choir was finally back, and (following a successful open evening which filled up the choir) they made plans to return to Bath.
Clare Oliver, MD of the choir, said “We are so excited to be returning to Bath and to hear all the other choirs sing. It is a wonderful way to celebrate choral singing and to meet other leaders and choirs who love singing as much as we do”.
The choir won their first class with Distinction. This was in the Folk Song class, with an arrangement of ‘Sing A Song of Sixpence’ by Fiona Lander, followed by a haunting ‘She Moved through the Fair’ by Michael Neaum.
In the Female Voice class Andover Ladies were runners-up, with the unusual ‘Would Like to Meet’ by Cecilia McDowell – (about a lonely hearts column for animals and shrubs) and the beautiful ‘Remember Me’ by Laura Farnell. The choir were awarded yet another Distinction.
Next came the Sacred Music class, with ‘Ave Maria’ by the Welsh composer Richard Vaughan and the dramatic ‘Cantate Domino’ -another trophy, and another Distinction! The choir’s accompanist Anna Mullens was also mentioned for her superb piano-playing.
In the final Pop/Show Song class, MD Clare announced the choir would begin with ‘Wannabe’ by the Spice Girls- there was silence and then laughter in the audience as they realised this was being sung a cappella as an English Madrigal! The adjudicator, Tim Parker, said he had loved it – and ‘Wannabe’ and the following ‘Let The River Run’ had been so well sung that Andover Ladies were awarded First place, another trophy and the very top grade of Outstanding.
Tim praised the choir, their MD Clare Oliver and their wonderful accompanist Anna Mullens. He loved the choices of music, the full, warm sound of the choir, and described their performances as ‘Thrilling’, ‘Intimate’, ‘Bell-like’ and ‘Beautifully balanced and blended’.
Clare said “We are all feeling rather humble and emotional after a wonderful day’s singing. The other choirs were all fabulous, which makes it even more extraordinary that we should have been so successful. The whole day has been a marvellous experience and we feel very privileged to have been able to be part of such a great festival”.
The choir will be performing their prize-winning songs, and other varied and beautiful music, in their concert Sing A Song Of Summer at The Lights on Friday 7th July.
Tickets are available at https://www.thelights.org.uk/WhatsOn/10714/andover-ladies-choir-sing-a-song-of-summer