Written by Heather Wilson (a member of the choir during the ‘70s) and published in a booklet, “Wirral Visions” in 1981, which included paintings by her husband, Douglas Wilson RCA. Included by kind permission.
At Conway Middle School, each Monday night,
We met to practice Bach and Monteverdi,
Led by a man enamoured of the Quattrocento,
Conducting with one hand, thundering chords with the other,
Barking commands as we struggled for breath in the Miserere,
Trying to avoid a rallentando. Motets and Oratorios,
The humbler folk-song, tireless he drove us on,
Seeking perfection in the polyphonic, spotting a wrong note
With unerring skill, quelling the offender with a look.
By Harding’s coach, we travelled to Eisteddfods,
Laden with sandwiches and last year’s silver cup,
To try our luck once more, at Llanwrst or Pwllhelli,
Taking the coast road via Flint and Abergele,
The Wirral a thin line over miles of estuary,
Windows in Parkgate glinting in the sun;
Or through the Clwyd Gate to Denbigh Moors,
And mountain passes where the buzzard flies,
Down to Llanrhaeadr and the great marquee.
Hot afternoons in fields in the middle of nowhere,
Smelling of straw bales and trampled grass,
Endless announcements in Welsh over the tannoy,
As we anxiously awaited our turn. At last we were called,
And we filed on the stage to a dizzy impression of flowers
And faces, the sound of our voices and sunlight suffusing
Through canvas. Too soon it was over, but months of rehearsal
Were worth it – we won, and we boarded the bus with our trophy
Triumphant and sang Sosfan Fach as we headed for home.
Back over Queensferry Bridge in the gathering darkness,
Passing a desolate Shotton, the Sealand Spitfire;
After the bristling march of fir plantations,
Familiar spread of friendly Wirral oaks.
Weary sopranos and altos alighting at Neston,
Tenors at Pensby, a bass at the Basset Hound,
Calling goodnight and thank you to Mr. Scarratt,
Smiling benignly on all from his seat by the door,
Conductor extraordinary, gentle Svengali with trilby.
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