We Have Had Singing

By: Joyce Olesen

I have been a part of the Oratorio Choir for the better part of 50 years, starting in about 1974 after my third child was born. Monday nights have been a highlight ever since.  

John Poettcker was director in those days. I was often the soprano soloist when one was required, the first time being the Laudamus Te from Vivaldi’s Gloria. What a thrill to be singing along with Michael Heap’s oboe obligato.

To sing is sometimes like flying — an experience that takes you away from the humdrum of life. I have been thankful to have a voice even in my advancing years, and up til now have remained in the choir. Age and health issues have led me regretfully to decide that it is time to retire. It has been quite a ride, and I thank everyone who has had a part in making it so.

NOTE: I Have Had Singing is a piece of music composed in 1993 for the Berkshire Choral Festival, a summer amateur music festival. It speaks to amateur and professional musicians alike about the simple love of singing and the lasting joy it can bring, paraphrasing lines taken from Ronald Blythe’s book: Akenfield, Portrait of an English Village.  In the 1960s, Blythe traveled to the north of England interviewing farmers, plowmen, blacksmiths — people whose stories dated back to the early 20th century. One subject, given the name Fred Mitchell in the book, was an 80-year old horseman who told his story of working a bleak, unfertile land in a life filled with little joy. In the midst of his story, he stopped and said, “But there was always singing; the boys in the field, the chapels were full of singing. I have had pleasure enough; I have had singing.” 

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