The Swift Singers gain 1st place in the Ladies Class at the inaugural ‘Festival of Choirs’ on the Isle of Man
A real choral treat was in store for 14 choirs who travelled to the Isle of Man on Friday 15th October. Six choirs from the Isle of Man and the remainder from the UK and Northern and Southern Ireland participated. The Swift Singers battled it out with six other ladies choirs and gained 1st place after a nail biting adjudication by Dr Alwyn Humphreys, MBE, the internationally-renowned television personality, conductor, arranger and composer. Although it was nerve-wracking to sing our three chosen songs in front of such an esteemed personality, ‘It Don’t Mean A Thing’, ‘You Are So Beautiful/Wind Beneath My Wings’ and ‘Weep Oh Mine Eyes’, we were delighted to see in the audience, Scottish singer and Isle of Man resident Moira Anderson OBE (Festival Patron) who chatted to us afterwards (see photo of Moira on the stairs with us). The Swifts gained a trophy and £500 for winning our section.
On Sunday, section winners had to sing again for a 25 minute session and we managed eight songs in that time. We were joint runners up for the Choir of the Festival award but the Swifts were delighted with Dr. Humphreys’ comments about us at the end of the award ceremony. He felt we were ladies who really enjoyed singing and we were a wealth of smiling faces (sometimes bordering on the ‘naughty’ – can’t think what he meant by that!)
Entering the Festival competition was really only a part of the weekend. Praise must go to the impeccable organisation and in particular to Geoff Corkish MHK (Political Member for Tourism), whose enthusiasm for music and the Isle of Man shone through. The weekend began with a ‘welcome evening’ and social on the Friday night, incorporating a community sing song. The competition proper got underway on Saturday afternoon and after winning, the Swifts decided to try and have an early night in preparation for taking to the stage again on Sunday. Of course we didn’t go to bed before having a ‘small’ celebration back at the hotel but the boat wasn’t pushed out too far! On Sunday morning we were taken around the Island by coach and shown some of the tourist sights and were blessed with glorious sunshine. Our driver was very entertaining explaining all about Norman Wisdom and his life on the Island, and showing us where Robin Gibb (of the Bee Gees) lived. The curtain came down on Sunday night with an evening of Manx entertainment designed to give all visitors a glimpse of the music and dance of the Isle of Man. Then back to the hotel for another celebration. Monday morning saw 41 weary choristers along with Clive and Dave boarding the plane for Luton.
A huge thank you (or as they say in Manx ‘Gura mie ayd’) for the grant which enabled us to organise this trip, must go to the South Woodham Ferrers Town Council. We therefore invited Keith Miles, Town Mayor to our rehearsal this week for a photo session. We hope you are just as proud as we are to bring back a trophy and a 1st prize to South Woodham Ferrers!