La La on the Move.
A year after Plymouth choir started we have had to move premises. It just didn’t suit us where we were and the hall being well used on a Saturday morning meant that setting up on a Friday night always clashed with us singing.
We are now at St Bartholomews on Outland Road, Milehouse, Plymouth. We use the main church which is beautiful. The inside was modelled on Coventry Cathedral but with a modern take. They have a stunning, marble sculpted font that is lit up at night. In my opinion it sends a clearer message than a simple cross on a building.
As you know La La is not a religious choir in anyway but using churches and their halls works for people in the residential areas of towns and cities because they are almost always in the heart of the community. St Bartholomews is also one of the churches that believes community is what their work is all about.
When I first went to meet Father Richard, the vicar at St Barts, I wandered round the open church first to see what went on there and I always want to check the feeling of the venue. Just like looking for a new home, you know when its right or wrong more or less as soon as you walk in the door. Well the first thing I saw was a poster advertising a trip for families to see the old breweries in Newton Abbot and the trip was a joint venture with The Britannia, the pub next door.
Now I don’t know if I have ever told you but I worked for Wetherspoon’s for ten years before I through it all up in the air to pursue my passion so I know The Britannia well as it is indeed a Wetherspoon. The pub manager, Paula, is one of the best in the country. She runs a pub that really feels like your friendly local. The staff are always helpful, efficient and friendly. The food, cooked by Bob who like Paula has been there for eight years, is always top quality served exactly as it should be and despite being almost opposite the Plymouth Argyle football ground there is never any trouble. It didn’t surprise me at all that the Manager who runs the communities favourite pub was involved. What really impressed me was that Father Richard, who has been at the church for eighteen months now, was ready and willing to embrace what at first could seem like an odd partnership.
After meeting the effervescent Father Richard, who has also just invited the local Clogging Group to use the premises, I knew it was for us. The first session there last Friday was brilliant. Everyone loved it and the acoustics were fab. Singing Tebe Poem was spine tingling.
Exmouth choir had to move for different reasons. We had outgrown the lovely hall that has been our home for three years. It was quite a wrench for me. Ming, the lady who organises lettings is always so helpful, Simon the pastor, always stopped for a chat. We really felt welcome. Was Glenorchy Church on Exeter Road in Exmouth, going to cut the mustard?
The lovely Bob who is the lettings boss was brilliant. I met him a few weeks back and he took me round the building. They have a fabulous hall recently renovated, that has acoustic panels on the ceiling specifically for use by music groups. Being right in the centre of town, they are used by all sorts societies and ventures and are well used to choirs. They put on a mini concert every Wednesday lunchtime where people can drop in and listen to beautiful music and they are there come rain or shine. What a wonderful way to reach out to Exmouth towns folk.
Unfortunately because they have a job club in the hall on a Thursday morning, the computers are set up on a Wednesday night clashing with our regular sessions so we are using the main church.
What struck me immediately is that although it’s a traditional style, it’s so cosy. Its carpeted, unusual for a church. The pews have been removed and nice padded chairs sit in their place. The have an extremely posh Grand Piano that I was desperate to get my fingers on and Bob, like my lady at Brixington was friendly, efficient and welcoming.
Last night was awesome! Again, the acoustics were amazing; it was bright and cheerful, warm and cosy and gave the biggest out of the La La choirs, plenty of room. We all cheered and clapped at the end of the session after a brilliant rousing bash at One Day Like This, my favourite arrangement I wrote of an Elbow song.
I can’t thank enough Brixington Community Church and Trinity URC for their support and I know they will be happy that we have landed ourselves a couple of cracking new homes that we are of course permeating with our La La loveliness