By Betsy Everett
A Dales choir will face its biggest challenge yet when it takes to the stage in two weeks’ time for the nationwide Manchester Amateur Choral Competition.
Taking on competitors from all over the country The Dales Community Pop and Show Choir, formed and directed by Debbie Allenby from Carperby, will be first on stage in the day-long contest held at the Royal Northern College of Music.
The competition is on Sunday, February 11, but the competing choirs will also perform for the public at venues in and around the city, the Dales choir appearing at the chapel near the college on the Saturday night.
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It will be the tenth anniversary of the competition which, say the organisers, invites choirs to come together “in a spirit of creativity and community.”
For Debbie the occasion marks a milestone in the brief but successful history of the choir she started just two and a half years ago, in September 2015, and the ethos of the competition reflects her own approach.
“It’s not an elitist choir – some members can read music, some can’t, and there are no auditions. It’s just a great community venture which is friendly, supportive and most important of all, fun,” she says.
Thirty-plus members will travel to Manchester out of the fifty paid-up members.
“Right at the start, there were sometimes only eight or ten people, but performing at the Wensleydale Tournament of Song in 2016 proved a turning point. Lots of people showed an interest and joined, and now we have a waiting list. It is all women, but we would welcome men joining us once we have space, and as long as we can keep the right balance,” she says.
Choirs will be judged on technical achievement, performance, presentation and approach, and choice and suitability of material. The Dales Community Choir, with regular accompanist Paul Sowden, will perform three pieces; Billy Joel’s Longest Time, Bonfire Heart by James Blunt and Take That’s Rule the World. Debbie also directs the Dales Community Youth Choir for seven to 13-year-olds of which the youngest of her three daughters, Phoebe, is a member. Middle daughter Rosie, 14, a solo performer in her own right, sings with the adult group.