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Singing is believing at the Rock Choir

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  • A Cappella News
    THE TIMES: I can t help noticing Harry Cruickshank, because he s tall and he s half a second off the Stevie Wonder beat. I don t know if he can sing or not,
    Message 1 of 1 , Mar 23, 2009
      THE TIMES:

      I can't help noticing Harry Cruickshank, because he's tall and he's half a second off the Stevie Wonder beat. I don't know if he can sing or not, because of the sheer volume of sound from this 170-strong choir, mostly women, stepping mostly as one to the right, then to the left, and snapping their fingers. All raise their arms in supplication to the dark-haired woman on the keyboard at the end of the assembly hall and roar in three-part harmony: "Ooooh, ooh, baby, here I am! Signed, sealed, delivered, I'm yours! Ooooh, ooh, baby . . . "

      "This choir took a bit of finding," says Cruickshank, 48, a marketing director from Woking, Surrey. "Most demand a certain quality of voice, and I haven't had that since I turned 13. Here, you don't have to audition; it's about singing to the best of your ability, with energy and passion. And there's something about the atmosphere of singing in a group — well, it's quite powerful. It's visceral."

      Rock Choir is visceral. Audiences are perplexed to find themselves in tears as the unashamedly populist home-counties phenomenon belts out pop, gospel and Motown hits in ever bigger venues, three times a year. (When the choir opened Guilfest last year, the Radio 2 stage almost collapsed under the massed weight of 300 hip-shimmying, finger-snapping bodies).

      Choir members get watery-eyed in rehearsal. I did myself last week: excusable with Handel's Messiah, but frankly embarrassing over Labi Siffre's "Something inside so strong, I know that I can make it, but you're doing me wrong, so wrong". I think it's to do with massed endeavour, with the miracle of 170 ordinary voices melding to create an astonishingly rich and funky wall of sound. There is also the poignancy of the faces behind the voices: anxious or liberated, wrinkled or glowing; housewife, teacher, barrister, widow; marketing director with bobbing adam's apple

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