Newbie blog! An Unseasoned Popper

thepopupchoir_mastersofpop

Following on from Andrew’s piece, we decided to get view from a relative newcomer. Someone who hasn’t yet been completely sucked in to the choir, or Boozy Tuesday. (Andrew’s been in Pop-Up since 2010 and is now thoroughly brainwashed by beer and reindeer songs.) Annabel, pictured with Pop-Up at our wedding gig this weekend, holding the sign and wearing the snazzy hat, joined the Alto 1 ranks in September 2013. Take it away Annabel!

Some may be hoping this post is about the latest tasty, high-fat, low-nutrition offering from Perfect Fried Chicken (other South London chicken shops are available). It’s not. Rather, it is the tale of a newbie’s experience of the world of Pop-Up.

Perhaps I should start with a confession. This is not my first choir. It’s not even my first South London choir (raised eyebrow!). In fact, I first came across Pop-Up while singing with my old choir at a concert where we both performed. Later, I found myself auditioning at a rather jovial Pop-Up rehearsal.

This may sound like defection to some. I prefer to think of it as circumstance, geography (well I did move a number of miles down the road) and the gentle sway of those Pop-Up folk.

That was back in autumn, which feels both like an eternity and five minutes ago. My brain is beginning to heave with the sheer weight of the tunes I’ve been shoving in it since then. 15, yes 15! at the last count. I have my suspicions that they’re beginning to push other useful information out, but hey-ho.

It’s been really good fun and a great challenge catching up with the long-serving members, both at the non-Dom and con-Dom (he he!) rehearsals*. The first few weeks were spent learning a new song (Common People – BRILLIANT) and getting up to speed with the sunshiny Sweetest Feeling and Wouldn’t It Be Nice – alongside the delicate and warm Sigh No More. With a good few newbies joining Alto 1s in the intake we relied, and still do, rather a lot on the patience and grace of our more seasoned fellow Alt 1s (thanks ladies).

Within about six rehearsals it was in at the deep end with a performance at the Lambeth fireworks display at Brockwell Park, pre-warmed by Lisa’s lovely mulled wine. I think I speak on behalf of the other newcomers when I say: slightly scary and definitely some mumbling and mouthing going on. The seal was broken.

Christmas rolled around with speed and we were on to pub gigs. Funnilly enough, pubs aren’t the quietest of places on the planet and some rather cringe-worthy “Shhing” went on. But we went down pretty darn well, and nothing beats the feeling of performing confidently to people who enjoy it. Common People was a real winner, particularly with our Jarvis glasses and Mike’s suave impersonation of the Pulp frontman.

The New Year has kicked off with a couple of gorgeous spirituals and the universally approved (at least in our group) Hey Ya/Get Lucky combo. Can’t wait to try them out on our unsuspecting public.

It’s already been so lovely being part of this choir for so many reasons. The singing is wonderful – a great mix of upbeat and heartfelt tunes – all beautifully crafted and honed by Dom and the rest of the choir. The improv too is as real joy – the chance to play and, bit by bit, let go of mundane concerns with your fellow singers.

Beyond the experience of the music there is of course the group. A fun, welcoming and conscientious crowd. It’s lovely to see so many pitching in and working together to make Pop-Up work – now and in the future. I look forward to getting to know everyone a little better.

I still have a little way to go – I need a bit more study time – not only on the tunes and lyrics (Lump is peculiar) but also, I admit, on peoples’ names! There are quite a few of us and about half the group seems to be called Kate, Katherine or a derivative thereof. I’m looking forward to pushing myself a bit more technically too.

All in all, I think 2014 is going to be a brilliant year for Pop-Up and I’m delighted I get to be part of it.

* We split our rehearsals between the Dogstar in Brixton, where Dom leads us, and the Black Prince in Kennington, for “non-Dom” rehearsals. They’ve been named non-Dom and “con-Dom” because we are terrible.
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