Oswestry choir hops border to rehearse under Welsh lockdown laws

A chamber choir based in Oswestry has hopped the border in order start rehearsing under Welsh lockdown laws.

Members of the choir at Black Park Chapel
Members of the choir at Black Park Chapel

Members of Cantiones said they were "disappointed" to learn the relaxation of lockdown rules in England on April 12 did not allow them to meet in groups larger than six.

Instead, the majority of singers returned to Wales - where groups of up to 30 people can meet outdoors - and the Black Park Chapel in Halton, Chirk, to rehearse for the first time since September 2020.

While the weather prevented everyone singing together outside, splitting into two smaller groups, distancing appropriately and wearing face masks allowed two rehearsals to go ahead indoors.

Musical director Martin Bussey has been producing rehearsal videos for the choir on YouTube as well as leading whole-choir rehearsals on Zoom for nearly a year.

He said: “It was great to be able to rehearse in person again. We’ve been working hard in Zoom rehearsals but were excited to be able to rehearse together in a focused way once again, preparing to perform."

There was great excitement from members singing together again, with one adding: “It felt fantastic to be singing with other people again, to hear them and to make music with them. I’m feeling on top of the world."

Making Music, which is the UK’s membership organisation for leisure-time music, with more than 3,700 groups representing around 200,000 music makers across the UK, carried out a survey of members which suggests there are difficult times ahead for amateur music groups.

Only 28 per cent of groups surveyed are planning public in-person events between May and August 2021 and, despite the UK’s vaccination programme, 67 per cent cite their own members’ anxieties as the top barrier to a return to in-person activity.

The Cantiones choir plans to take part in International Music Day on Monday June 21 in Cae Glas Park.

During the afternoon of Saturday July 3 the choir also hopes to present a concert at Holy Trinity Church.

Mr Hussey added: "The choir would like to extend its very grateful thanks to Sean Evans for his original offer to host our rehearsals at the Sweeney Hall Hotel and to Dr Bridget Drukker at the Black Park Chapel Trust for the hosting offer we were able to take up."

Cantiones is a chamber choir based in Oswestry with just over 30 voices.

Founded in 1982, it is now under the baton of noted composer and conductor, Martin Bussey.

The choir performs mainly in Oswestry and its surroundings but makes occasional visits further afield such as to Lancaster, Lichfield, St Asaph and Normandy.

It often performs unaccompanied pieces but also with piano, organ and occasionally with small orchestras and other choirs.

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