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From Joyce


Dear John,
We thank you for your note, expressing your desire
For information on our most prestigious local choir.
You say you’d like to join, although you hear the standard’s high,
And since you haven’t sung for years, your voice is rough forbye,
And an auditory interview is something that you dread -
You’d rather stick to singing arias in the bath instead –
Allow us to assure you now how groundless are your fears.
The entrance test is nothing like as bad as it appears.
Sight reading isn’t ‘de rigueur’, although it helps the sound
If you can tell by looking when the notes go up and down.
Although a voice like Placido Domingo’s is a boon,
The bottom-line requirement is that you can stay in tune.

We’ve got some lovely singers in among the common crew.
Some notes defeat the many, but are conquered by the few.
The first soprano section scale the realms the rest can’t enter,
Though is must be said they had less trouble in the Leisure Centre.
And though the second basses’ line devolves into a jumble,
Emitting, like the underground, a soothing sort of rumble,
Their bottom notes are thrilling, full of vibrant Celtic charm,
Which owes a lot to one who comes direct from Cardiff Arms.
The altos are dead accurate, as true as true can be,
Provided they’re not asked to move too far from middle C.
And the tenors, Ah the tenors! What a fine pellucid sound!
(We do a lot of grovelling when the tenors are around.)

We’ve been a choir for many years, in fact we’re twenty-one,
And many’s the composer whose masterpiece we’ve ‘done.’
Schubert, Haydn, Dvorak; Monteverdi and Vivaldi,
Be it Mass in B or Mass in C, you bet we gave it laldy.
We’ve sung waltzes, carols, Scottish ballads, and on top of that
We’ve indulged in Mozart’s Requiem and Bach’s Magnificat.
We’ve gone on tour to foreign parts, covering the miles
From Callendar to Falkirk, from Buchlyvie to St. Giles.
And in among the organs, which never fail to please,
We’ve had some odd pianos, with flat and missing keys.
The keyboard in McLintock Hall brought water to the eye
As the poor sopranos found themselves a full two tones too high.
It’s difficult to think that something small could cause such pain,
But we’re in no desperate rush to sing The Blue Danube again.

Did I mention our involvement in the operatic scene?
Our G and S productions were the best there’s ever been.
Instead of old Penzance, or a location quite that far,
Our Pirate fleet was landlocked, and based in Balmaha.
And the Gondoliers had never been to Venice in our story.
Instead they got entangled with the Duke of Tobermory.
Our swansong was old Pinafore, performed in Balfron School.
That was our final chance to lark about and play the fool.
We gave up operetta when, instead of winsome lasses,
The maidens’ chorus, to a man, had greying hair and glasses.

When you go for your audition, John, some things you will be asked
Perhaps even before you’ve had your vocal skills unmasked.
How are you on piano shifting, or on stacking chairs?
Can you conduct a bottle stall, or bake a few eclairs?
Can you pour juice and coffee, and operate the sink
While singing Barber Shop Quartets? It’s harder than you think.
And do your waitress skills include dispensing laden trays
Of steaming spicy wine, and threading through the crowded maze
Of Christmas punters, handing out mince pies and shortbread fingers?
Believe me, these are talents vital to Strathendrick Singers.
We also need our helpers, be they bidie-in or mate,
Who mull the wine and heat the pies, take money at the gate,
Or hand out programmes, count the children, usher in the ageing,
Then hang around to lend a hand dismantling the staging.
(That’s Walter’s province. He can build a lovely choral stand.
He comes along with laden trailer, even when he’s banned.)
So joining our renowned choir is not a simple thing.
There’s so much more involved than the capacity to sing.

For two full decades many of our members came and went,
But two stars remain constant in our twinkling firmament.
The first is Helen, who, with patience wonderful to see,
Plays on for us each week, in any time and any key.
The other one is Ros, whose guidance doth our souls inspire,
And turns us from mere rustics to a smooth and tuneful choir.
You’ll join at an auspicious moment, now we’re twenty-one.
We’ve come of age, we’re adult, a new future has begun.
We may go on tour to foreign cities, wander far from home,
Or exhibit in the Culture Section of the Greenwich Dome.
A folder and designer tie is all that you require,
So come and join the happy chorus.
Lots of love,
The Choir.

Today’s our birthday party, and we’re here to make a fuss.
Let’s raise our glasses to Strathendrick Singers. Here’s to us!