More thoughts from our members
Here we have two interviews with members at the opposite ends of their HCS careers: Pat Berry and Antonia Mosley.
Pat has just retired from our choral family after 41 years of dedication. Such has been her commitment to the HCS that she uses her choir number in her email address and has achieved a near perfect attendance record. We interviewed her to find out more about her Choral experience and her unwavering enthusiasm for the choir.
When and why did you join HCS?
I joined in January 1982. My first job was in a bank and I used to sing while I was working. The manager said, “Miss Crowther, it is not appropriate to sing in a bank.” Fortunately, Muriel Walker (an HCS stalwart) also worked there and knew HCS would be a very appropriate place to indulge my love of singing.
What was your audition like?
The audition was in a reception room at the Town Hall; there were lots of people sitting round a table. This sounds daunting, but I had nothing to lose so wasn’t nervous. I heard I was successful straight away and joined the soprano section. The nerves kicked in when I had my first retest after five years – you know what you’ve got to lose by then!
Why have you remained a member of the choir for so long?
I absolutely love singing with other people. Although I love singing the big works, there is something really special about 200 people singing quietly. I have always prioritised Choral (in the background Pat’s husband is heard whispering, “ Don’t I know it!”) – even coming back from holiday early so as not to miss a rehearsal or a concert. I’ve also loved the social side especially when we have participated in workshops and trips abroad.
I was a librarian for the Youth Choir in the 1980s and really enjoyed the camaraderie. My daughter was a founding member of the Youth Choir in 1986 and still sings today, even though it’s in a choir 200 miles south of Huddersfield.
Also, there’s something really special about the choir singing Happy Birthday to you; you don’t get that if you are not a member.
Do you have a favourite work or concert?
Singing The Dream of Gerontius, performing in the Royal Albert Hall and singing with Owain Arwel Hughes in Wales are all highlights. However, Handel’s Messiah is my favourite work. I had not even heard it when I joined the Choral Society and have now sung so many different versions. The fact that the Christian faith is important to me makes performances very moving. Whenever I hear Christians Awake at the beginning of each Messiah concert I tingle all over.
You deserve a rest after 41 years, but what will you miss most about HCS?
I will miss my friends and the workshop weekends but mostly the singing – every rehearsal and concert has a special atmosphere.
Pat intends to enjoy her time as an audience member from now on. She certainly won’t have to wait 6 years to obtain a subscriber ticket, which was the experience of her family in the 1980s. Nobody will be keeping a record of her attendance either, but we hope to see her at many concerts in the future.
Pat’s membership of the HCS family exceeds Antonia’s by 40 years! Antonia (aged 11 years) joined HCS Youth Choir last year and has never looked back.
Why did you choose to join Young Voices?
I knew Mrs North was a good teacher so I really wanted to join the choir. I tried it out and knew I wanted to stay.
What do you enjoy most about rehearsals?
I love learning new songs and making new friends. I especially like the fact we enter competitions – there’s a real sense of occasion that brings out the best in the choir.
Which has been your favourite concert? Why?
We sang some lovely songs in the Holmfirth concert that made it special. There was a great audience which included my teacher!
What 3 words best describe your experience of the choir so far?
Enjoyable. Friendly. Sociable.
What advice would you give to someone who is thinking of joining?
Come and try it out; I’m sure you’ll enjoy it. No one expects you to get everything right straight away. It’s fun and friendly. I recommend it.