Page 35 - Fringe Programme
P. 35

It's the second ever meeting of the Stroud Fringe Choir and the vast windows of the rehearsal room in
the Centre for Science and Art on Lansdown,  ll the room with the glow of the  rst warm weekend of the year. There have already been vocal warm ups, and now the group readies itself to learn the  rst of the  ve songs it'll perform at Stroud Fringe.
The choir was the brainchild of composer Emily Hall, who moved to Stroud not much more than a year ago, her idea being
that all the material performed will be generated by its members. "I may have started the choir," she later tells me when we meet in a balmy beer garden in July, "but it has a band mentality - it is very much a collective now." This is evident in the way she works - a born collaborator, in rehearsals Hall could be mistaken for any other participant. She barely speaks more than anyone else, and when she does it's to moot the odd idea, or to record each singing part, to help everyone practice
at home.
Before the choir was assembled, Hall
wasn't sure how much material there'd be, and envisioned that some pieces might be devised by the group. However, she now says, "There’s more material than
we can use in our half-hour set." Levels of musical pro ciency range from, says Hall, "Probably about ten people who make
a living out of music, and then the other ten are all competent musicians who have done stuff before. But it's not obligatory to be able to read music."
A unique advantage of this inclusive way of creating is the variety it brings - an array of genres and in uences that defy pigeon holing and idle expectations. One of the songs, called Drink You, is by the singer-songwriter Blythe Pepino who,
says Hall, inhabits a "Bjorky, Goldfrappy soundworld." Pepino was the lead singer of the band Vaults, who’s debut album Caught In Still Life is out now on EMI. "She's really got an amazing voice," says Hall, and she's got this lovely song that she'll sing with the choir accompanying her." A couple of other songs are written speci cally for choir, so there's no soloist. "One is called Fine Liner, by Melanie Golding, a writer, musician and generally all-round talented person," says Hall. "And there's Alleluia - You are Everything, by the French musician, Stéph Marlot, and that's a straight-down-the-line choir piece, a little bit gospelly." Emily Barker has contributed Pause, which she originally released in 2011 with her former band the Red Clay Halo. Barker will perform the song accompanied by the choir and an organ. "And then  nally," says Hall, "there's a piece by me - Mantra - which is a choir piece but originally was from my album Follie à Deux." It has come a long way since its  rst incarnation with two singers and vocoders. "So it's a big range of styles but we all have in common that we're in Stroud and want to make music together," The Stroud Fringe Choir’s debut performance will take place on the Good On Paper stage at St Laurence Church on Saturday at 5pm featuring cellist Simon McCorry, percussionist David Insua-Cao and Joshua Crunden on the church organ.

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