10th & 11th November 2023
We were very pleased to be asked to take part in a performance of Noye’s Fludde, by Benjamin Britten, in Lichfield Cathedral. It is a one act opera intended primarily for amateur performers and involves adult and child soloists, choir, crowds of children representing the animals and a musical score which includes orchestra, piano, a recorder group, tuned mugs and handbells.
The performance in Lichfield was arranged to celebrate 20 years of MusicShare which is a school singing programme that works with primary, secondary and special schools around Lichfield and across the West Midlands. The production involved 16 singers in the main cast, a young ballet dancer, a 30 strong ladies choir, 50 players in the orchestra and about 200 youngsters across the two nights, plus a lot of technical lighting, sound and video. The groups involved were listed on the back of the event T-shirt where we came first alphabetically. It was quite an undertaking, masterminded by Cathy Lamb, who is Director of MusicShare and who also conducted the performance with great enthusiasm.
The handbell part, in itself, is not particularly difficult although the rhythms are quite tricky. The challenge is in fitting in with the rest of the orchestra, singers and the voice of God. We were able to practise our part independently a few times and then went to the cathedral for a full rehearsal; fortunately we had a good position just behind the violins with a good view of the conductor. After a couple of runs through we had a good idea of what else was going on and how the conductor would bring us in so, with another run through ourselves, we were ready for the performances. In the end we were pleased with our playing, particularly the second performance. It was lovely to hear our bells sounding out across the whole cathedral and we gather from friends in the audience that it sounded good, which was a great relief.
It was a wonderful experience, a bit daunting but a great privilege, to be a part of such a production with so many enthusiastic young people involved and with the audience filling the nave of the cathedral on both nights.