A Community Choir?

Over its first five years, the Music at the Heart of Teesdale project has made great progress in achieving its aim of reviving interest in the folk and traditional music and dance traditions of Teesdale. We have had less success in getting grants or funding to support the areas of song and singing, however.

M@HoT Song and Singing Projects – the story so far…

Mike Bettison and Rosie Cross have performed their “Notes from Teesdale” presentation to a number of local community groups and schools. The presentation includes some of the songs that Mike has revealed as having historical links to the locality. Among these are:

  • “Scarborough Fair”, made famous by Paul Simon
  • “Fourpence a Day”, a Teesdale leadminers’ song
Rosie Cross rehearsing Fourpence a Day with Cream Tees

Rosie Cross rehearses “Fourpence a Day” with members of Cream Tees at The Hub in Barnard Castle, 28 September 2012. (Photo by Neil Diment.)

  • “High Force Agricultural Show”, an amusing and cautionary tale of what could happen if the lads and lasses got “caught up” on their way to the once defunct — but now revived! — show in Upper Teesdale.
Mike Bettison and Rosie Cross perform High Force Agricultural Show

Mike Bettison and Rosie Cross perform “High Force Agricultural Show” at The Full English event at The Witham in July 2014. (Photo by Neil Diment.)

Cream Tees have also performed “Fourpence a Day” under Rosie’s guidance, “Elsie Marley” working with tutor Hinny Pawsey and, more recently, “The Bonny Moorhen” with Folk Degree student tutor Grace Smith. Songs like “Rattlin’ Bog” and “Man in the Moon” have become firm favourites with the band. In 2015, working on the “Always Remembered” project with Rupert Philbrick and John Kirkpatrick, the band learned and performed several First World War songs including “It’s a Long Way to Tipperary”, “Keep the Home Fires Burning”, and “Good-bye-ee”.

Cream Tees perform Good-bye-ee with John Kirkpatrick

Cream Tees perform “Good-bye-ee” on stage at The Witham with John Kirkpatrick in July 2016 as part of the “Always Remembered” WW1 project.
(Photo by David Williams, Calico Images)

Most recently, we have worked with Niamh Boadle and Anna Hughes as part of our “Tunes from Teesdale” project, taking tunes and songs from M@HoT’s Folk Database. The tunes and songs have included “Van Diemen’s Land” as well as a couple of tunes recorded by Ralph Vaughan Williams from an unknown singer in Barnard Castle’s workhouse in 1911.

Cream Tees rehearse The Bonny Moorhen

Grace Smith leads Cream Tees rehearsing “The Bonny Moorhen” for the Showcase Concert at The Witham, February 2015. (Photo by Neil Diment.)

A Community Choir: Other Opportunities

Although M@HoT’s applications for funding to set up a Community Choir have not met with success to date, other opportunities are becoming available for young singers in Teesdale.

Youth Choir at the Hub

Working with former Cream Tees tutor Rupert Philbrick, along with Rosie Bradford from the Bowes Museum, the Hub have plans to set up a Youth Choir which would meet on Saturday mornings from 11am to noon. There would be a small charge of £2 per session per child for ages 5–18. For further information, call 01833 690 150.

Community Choir with Live Band!!!

As part of its Tuneful Tuesdays, The Witham have plans to run a community choir, working with Musikality Services, from 7–8pm. Whereas a decade ago, the thought of a choir might have brought only hymns to mind, nowadays, however, there has been a revolution in attitudes, and this community choir will bring all ages and abilities together through music.

The plan is to work towards performances with a live band and offer participants something they may not have had the opportunity to do before.

For more information, contact The Witham on 01833 631 107.