1st December – Sally and I went to our first recording elsewhere (not Redruth!) for the carols – to Port Isaac. A long drive but worth it. It was lovely to meet new people including Janet Townsend, their MD. and they seemed really pleased we were there. It was also lovely to listen to new (to us) carols too. As it was their rehearsal night, which is in the old Temperance Hall, there was a relaxed atmosphere and we recorded 3 local carols: Angels from the Realms, Hark the Glad Sound (not Merritt) and Love came Down at Christmas. I suddenly felt really good in the middle of recording Angel from the Realms; the excitement that we are doing the right thing!
4th December – In the morning Sally and I went to record Pip Wright’s choir, Dawn Chorus at Tremenheere cafe near Penzance, singing Wassail the Silver Apple, written recently by Mike O’Connor. It was good to see her and others again and record such a big group, about 60 I think, and the acoustics were great. We stayed for coffee which was lovely – most of our trips will be in the dark and cold so it was nice to sit in the sunshine!
Then in the eve we left for Pencarrow House near Wadebridge to record the Washaway West Gallery Choir. It is an amazing Georgian house (still privately owned by the Molesworth-St Aubyn family) and we met Peter Meanwell, the MD who has a huge knowledge of Cornish carols. The choir sang a wide range of carols from across Cornwall. Mike Brown (a sound recordist who’s volunteered to help us at some events) came to record which I was grateful for as I could sit back and take notes rather than worry about the recording quality!
5th December – In the evening The Red River singers sang at Bridge Chapel again for the Carol Concert along with Tereba Nessa and Keur Heb Hanow, both choirs sing lesser known Cornish carols and also carols in Cornish. We particularly wanted a Cornish language one but there were so many good ones and leads for others that we’re not sure which to choose! Thankfully Mike Brown was on hand again and recorded the whole concert. The evening went well and we had a great sing in the pub afterwards – felt like Christmas had begun! We missed our dear friend Len Davies though – this time last year he was singing Glory Glory with us double forte. But I hope he could hear us raise the roof wherever he’s listening!
6th December – This was the big one for us; First & Last Carols at the Countryman Inn at Piece (so called because we sing on the first Sunday of December and then January). A full on night with wall-to-wall Cornish carols; ‘andsome! There was a great turnout with lots of meeting up of friends and a great deal of chatting as well as singing! A good number of my family were there – 3 generations! We sang all our carols and then our singers Keith and Jill’s family gathered and sung some more. Got home about midnight with a horse voice!
9th December – Sally and I had a good trip up to Polperro to record The Polperro Fisherman’s Choir and found the Chapel easily. We were early so went to the Ship Inn with some of the singers and had a good chat with them before going to the rehearsal. I’m really happy we found a contact with them as we never got to this bit of East Cornwall for our Shout Kernow book. They sang a version of While Shepherds Watched; Tis Christmas Time, that they’ve always sung there and Murray Collings, who’s sang with the choir for over 60 years could remember the names of other carols they sang there when they used to black up their faces (to disguise themselves) and go ‘Darkying’. The carols were called Behold and Welcome (A version of which we heard at Pencarrow – I wonder if it could be the same?) but are not sung anymore. It was a very special evening!