I left home at 7:15 yesterday evening feeling a little trepidation mixed with a lot of excitement. It was colder than I had expected and I immediately wished I had worn an extra layer of clothing – churches are notoriously cold after all!
Nowhere is far in Gibraltar and the Cathedral is right in the middle of town so I arrived on schedule just before 7:30. I’d already been told to go to the side door so I walked in hoping I looked more confident than I felt!
I scanned the room looking for Gerald but couldn’t see him anywhere. Hovering in the doorway is never a good thing so I stepped inside and a few ladies greeted me and smiled; I started to feel a little better.
One lady came up and asked me my name and then introduced me to Elizabeth and Brenda telling me to pull up another chair and sit. As there was still no sign of Gerald I did as I was told and carried a chair from the side of the room and placed it next to Elizabeth. At this point Lili arrived and, spotting the newcomer to her flock, she came over and introduced herself.
A few latecomers straggled in and then came Gerald, not spotting me, he went straight over to Lili and emptied the contents of his bag on top of her piano. A few words and some paper shuffling followed and then they both started to hand out the sheets of music.
I was relieved to see that I did at least recognise the three songs but the music looked hugely complicated and I could feel the nerves creeping back in. I must have looked apprehensive as a lady sitting with the Altos leaned over and asked me if I could actually read music – I had to admit that I couldn’t! She just smiled and said that it wasn’t such a big problem, probably at least half of the members couldn’t either but they got by.
Lili announced that we were going to “warm-up” and everyone got to their feet. A few notes from the piano and everyone started la-la-ing and ooh-oohing followed by some words I didn’t quite grasp.
Then we all sat down and without further ado started to work on the first song – ‘Jerusalem’. I’m not going to lie here, for the first two or three goes I did very little but hum (mostly under my breath) but, as the minutes ticked by and the four harmonies each went over their part, I started to join in a little. Having been placed with the Sopranos our part did reach some extremely high notes and I did consider suggesting that I move over to the Altos – but, I then found that I couldn’t sing their part at all, so I stayed put.
The second song was ‘Morning has broken’ – the song sheet looked much less complicated than the first and the note range was much easier to cope with so I joined in from the start.
9 o’clock came around so fast; I could hardly believe we had been there for an hour and a half! As everyone started donning their coats and preparing to leave Gerald came over to ask how I had found it. I explained that I had struggled at first and that I had found the second song easier, he said that as it was the start of a new year and the first rehearsal for some weeks that many others would have been in a similar state.
Lili confirmed this and as was about to leave Gerald invited me to join them all for a drink at the wine bar. I had to decline as I had left the house with nothing more than my front door key but as I left I heard “See you on Thursday then!”
I bounced home really pleased that they hadn’t asked me to leave and had even invited me back for a second go!
Whilst I can’t quite yet declare myself a member of a choir, fingers crossed I may be able to in not so many months!