The lure of singing some of the most rousing show tunes and the chance to learn from top drawer professionals brought around 70 people to Christ Church, Totland Bay last Saturday [20th Oct] for a Fun Vocal Workshop.

Led by professional soprano and teacher Heidi Pegler and arranger and orchestrator John Langley, who has worked with impresario Raymond Gubbay, the aim was to introduce singers of all standards, including those who had never before sung in a choir, to some of the music from Les Miserables and from some Rogers & Hammerstein shows, and perform it at the end of the day.

The workshop fees raised £600 after expenses, divided between Our Place Community Café based at West Wight Sports & Community Centre, Freshwater, and Christ Church’s reordering fund, aiming to make the space more accessible and versatile.

The event was the brainchild of new islander Pam Wedgwood, whose long career in music includes writing piano and singing instruction manuals for Faber Music. Pam, with local composer Richard Britton, accompanied on piano.

The workshop began with exercises – physical stretches followed by vocal gymnastics – and some instruction on getting acquainted with abdominal muscles and their use in singing. “If you take nothing else away, remember to use your tummy muscles,” said Heidi.

Then began the singing, the people having divided themselves into sopranos, altos, tenors and basses. A specially written medley of music from such shows as Carousel, The Sound of Music and Oklahoma! combined the joy of familiarity with what was for many a new experience of part singing.

More challenging, though enjoyed just as much, was the Les Miserables selection, the speed of delivery at times calling on athletic mouth muscles.

The day was punctuated with very welcome refreshments, and after an hour’s rest at the end of the day family and friends of the delegates came to hear the result of the day’s efforts.

‘Do you hear the people sing?’ they sang. They certainly did.

Roz Whistance