Bonjour, One Heart!
One of the best things about being in Bristol Show Choir is the sense of community it creates; singing brings people together and it’s wonderful to see friendships flourish through our passion for music. Even more excitingly, this sense of camaraderie can sometimes lead to us meeting people from different parts of the world. We at Bristol Show Choir realised this first hand last month, when we played host to a French choir, the glorious One Heart Gospel!
As part of a weekend culminating in a joint performance for our Spring Concert at St Alban’s Church, we welcomed One Heart on Friday, meeting our guests at the bus station. They couldn’t resist the lure of an impromptu sing it seemed, gathering around the piano left over from Bristol’s "Play Me, I’m Yours" installation by local artist Luke Jerram. We were bowled over by their enthusiasm and infectious energy, and it set the tone for the weekend immediately.
Friday night saw us gather at The Station Kitchen, which we hired out for the evening. Over a meal, we quickly forgot about the language barrier (in fact we soon realised their English was often better than some of our French, amusingly!) and the talk flowed easily as stories were exchanged, and much laughter heard. Of course, it’s impossible to bring two choirs together and not exchange a song or three, and that’s exactly what happened! Some of our cast members are relatively new to Gospel music, and were stunned by how it could both move us deeply and have us grinning from ear to ear; they even treated us to a song in French which reminded us that, whilst languages can be different, music and the way it makes us feel is universal. We joined forces for renditions of “I Will Follow Him” from Sister Act and “Somebody to Love”, as sung in We Will Rock You. Both sounded fantastic and we were all confident that they would go just as well on Saturday evening...
Gig day dawned, and at 11am, we could be found outside the Arnolfini for an hour of busking! Like the previous night, both us and One Heart took it turns to sing, to each other and the passing public, before we all sang together. The atmosphere was lovely and we even managed to serenade the folks aboard The Matthew as it sailed by!
Voices suitably warmed up, we then split into smaller groups and showed our guests around Bristol, before regrouping at St Alban’s for a final sound check.
The hour or so before doors open to an audience when you’re performing is filled with a really intense kind of energy and nervous buzz. It’s nerve wracking, but a real adrenaline rush, and sharing that anticipation with another choir helped us to relax. Our set included some new songs we’d introduced for the term, including "Hello!" from Book of Mormon, and "Music of the Night" from Phantom of the Opera, along with familiar favourites from our repertoire, like "Anthem" from Chess. The audience were really warm and appreciative, and after an interval it was One Heart’s turn to take to the stage...
Hearing a Gospel choir is always uplifting. Hearing a Gospel choir, in a church, feeding off the energy from an audience, however is something else.. the joy in the space was profound! We ended the concert as we had that informal Friday evening: singing together. The atmosphere was electric and ended with happy people all around.
It was with heavy hearts that we said au reviour to One Heart on Sunday. In a weekend full of music and laughter, we sensed some new friendships being formed too, and we cannot wait till we visit them in return later this year! Now.. where’s that French phrase book?