The first meeting of Handfuls of Harmony was very much in our thoughts on our slow train to Vietnam as we watched the sun set over the paddy fields of Sichuan province, knowing it would be three weeks before we were back with the choir. Would it go well? Would old friends be there? Would Ali be inspirational? Would there be new faces? Would the biscuits exceed expectations? Would the evening of song meander mellifluously, like the sun-kissed streams through the paddy fields?
As emails trickled through the ether the following day into our railway carriage, it was clear that the answer to all the above was a resounding “yes”, of course. Ali was brilliant, the biscuits were exceptional, and over 50 people had enjoyed the first session. Being in the land of Confucius it was good to know that the sage had a suitable epithet for the occasion. “Singing produces a kind of pleasure which human nature cannot do without.”
Confucius was right (of course). Returning to the choir has been hugely enjoyable. It was terrific to see more men in the group – strengthening the bass section par excellence, and enrichening the tenors. We even have songs with lots of words and not a dum dum in sight (as yet). The support from within the group is one of the evening’s many pleasures, as is the sense of uplift that comes with the harmonies Ali has chosen.
Looking around last night as we sang “Ya Basta”, “Down to the River” and “I’ll Lay Ye Doon”, I was struck by the sense of warmth and humour emanating from the group, and I hope those who have just joined Handfuls of Harmony feel welcomed and engaged. There are so many new faces that I was reminded just a little bit of Lou Bega’s lyrics in Mambo No 5.
I am thinking that next Thursday it might be good to wear some name badges, so that we can remind ourselves who the delightful people are that we have been singing with this term. As Confucius might have said “Showers are great, they make you feel nice and clean, and you sound like a professional singer.” See you on Thursday!