Sounds of success

The Rodillian Singers with musical director Sue Gwynn, front.
The Rodillian Singers with musical director Sue Gwynn, front.
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WINNING competitions has become almost routine for the Rodillian Singers in the past – but that’s not the be-all and end-all for the Wakefield ladies’ choir.

“It’s great to win prizes – and this year we’ve done really well,” said publicity officer Kath Knight. “However, we always learn a lot from taking part in festivals and that’s what we really get out of it.

“The judges give good criticism: they tell us what we did well and could do better, then we go back and work on it.

“We’ve always been competitive, so it’s good to see how we compare with others and to show what we can do.”

Recent appearances at music festivals in Skipton, Penistone, Whitby and Ilkley have seen the singers winning six titles – and a £500 prize – often pipping the York Philharmonic Male Voice Choir to top spot.

Kath, who has sung second alto with the choir since 2005, said: “There’s a lot of rivalry between the two choirs but it’s all very friendly – in fact we’ll be singing with them later this year!”

Much of the credit for the Rodillian Singers’ recent development can be attributed to current musical director Sue Gwynn, who made the switch from the ranks of the choir to their leader in 2004.

“She comes up with some great ideas and gives us a lot of confidence,” said Kath.

The choir, which was established in 1964 by a group of Rodillian School old girls, currently numbers more than 60 members, ranging in age from 14 to 70-plus and drawn from all walks of life.

Kath said: “Everybody can sing, you just need a little help to bring it out. For example, I can’t read music, so I do it all by ear – but, really, that’s all the ability you need to be part of a successful choir.”

Last Saturday, the choir was on home territory for a change, when it performed something of a showcase concert at St Helen’s Church, Sandal.

“It was a fantastic evening,” said Kath. “There was a good audience and a lot of people came to congratulate us after.

“However, it felt strange with just us on the stage – that’s not something we’ve done much recently – but it worked well.”

It’s now the end of the 2011–12 season for the singers but they’re already looking ahead, especially to their annual date at the Eskdale Festival, Whitby.

“That’s a big social occasion and one of the highlights of our choir life,” said Kath. “Everyone getting together on the coach, having fish and chips – though you’re not supposed to before you sing! – and enjoying the cameraderie.

“It’s great to be able to do something you really enjoy.”

To find out more and hear some clips from the choir’s repertoire, go to www.rodillian