British Pageant Choir learn amazing lessons from the Pageant
Audiences at The British Pageant, which opened Wednesday 31 July, have been moved by the incredible voices of the 200-strong choir that accompanies the traditional dance and historical theatre of the production. The music of the Pageant varies between beautiful renditions of traditional hymns and original music linking into the story that over 150 volunteer actors depict on-stage.
The choir, made up of volunteer singers from across the British Isles, stands on stage and sings an accompaniment for the duration of the performance. Choral numbers vary between traditional hymns and upbeat original music. Perhaps the most memorable vocal performance is a rendition of an old Welsh hymn, Suo-Gan, which the entire choir and cast sing in the original Welsh language. Members of the choir have dedicated their free time in recent weeks to recording the Pageant music so that it can be downloaded for all to enjoy (and it’s free!).
Sheena-Ann Brown, from Scotland, said that being a part of the Choir was “Absolutely phenomenal! From the very first practice the music touched my heart. The messages in the music are inspired, and we felt that as we rehearsed.”
Brown has made her own sacrifices to be in Lancashire this summer, performing with the choir, and she described it as a once-in-a-lifetime experience. She said, “We all feel that we would do anything to be part of this again… even to join in as a Pageant cleaner to pick up the rubbish!”
Harriet McKee, a newlywed from Lichfield, is part of the Choir along with her husband Ben. She decided to commit to rehearsing and performing with this 200-strong group of volunteers as she balanced her own commitments to her local community and her rigorous medical school studies. She explained that the Choir pre-recorded the music over two intensive days, working from early in the morning until late in the evening.
The process, McKee said, was not what she was expecting: the choir actually recorded the numbers acapella, with only their Music Director, Beth Trebilcock, able to hear the pre-recorded backing from the orchestra. “We had to follow with exact obedience. When we did exactly as Beth directed, we got it. When we tried to [go with our own] understanding, we failed. It’s amazing the lessons you can learn from participating in this pageant!”
“We slogged and put out hearts into it, and now listening back it’s surreal, it’s astonishing!” McKee admitted that being a part of the choir was more work than she ever imagined: “It really was hard work: there were times when we hit a brick wall. But the music, for me, provided the atmosphere and the authenticity to the retelling of the events [in Britain].”
You can download the music of the pageant at http://mormon.org.uk/pageant