Messiah for Nottinghamshire

In a few hours time, hundreds of singers and instrumentalists will gather at Nottingham’s Albert Hall – a modest building, comparatively speaking – to sing and play Handel’s Messiah. It’s one the of most powerful meetings of text (The King James Bible, The Book of Common Prayer version of the Psalms) and music.

I’m playing / singing all the right notes—but not necessarily in the right order.

Eric Morecombe would have fitted in well with this event. There’ll be singers and players who have never taken part in such a concert, or even attended one. Some of the singers can’t read music, some have done very little singing, but it will all come together. Seasoned singers will have performed the Messiah many times, and a smaller choir, the East of England Singers (of which I’m a member)  are taking on the trickier choruses i.e. the ones with more notes in a bar than some choruses contain in their entirety, such is the intricacy and delicacy of baroque music.

I’ve learned so much that’s invaluable to poetry making through music’s rhythm, phrasing, harmony and discord, and the ways in which these scribbles on a page generate deep immersion and intense emotion .

There’ll be a professional orchestra supporting the amateurs and accompanying the professional soloists. I’m looking forward to hearing the soprano, alto, tenor and bass soloists who might never have performed with a choir and orchestra of this size, enthusiasm and mixed experience. It will be fun, it will have highlights, it will terrify then inspire some of the performers. It will bring people together, generate friendships, and be a strong message saying: music is for everyone. Which is why the organization undertaking this project is called, as you’d expect, Music for Everyone.

We’ll angelakaysmlbe led and conducted by the inimitable, and super-enthusiastic director, Angela Kay, who will no doubt come up with further additions to her extensive repertoire of analogies: In those fast sections with lots of notes imagine you’re in a swimming pool, don’t panic, just reach for the side, for the note at the end of the run.

Angela is a truly extraordinary women, her contribution to the music of Notts and the East Midlands is immense. She will have us laughing, we’ll feel anything is possible, there’ll be no shouting (other than to make herself heard) or barking, and it will be an extraordinary day.

Hallelujah! Hallelujah!

Tickets are still available: 7.30pm kick off


Begin at the Beginning

Final Year Project

Today, on the BA (Hons) in Creative and Professional Writing course at the University of Nottingham (my that’s a lot to write, ‘uni course’ from now on), we had our first project preparation session. The project is 50% of our final year of study, 50% of level three’s marks. As a part-time student, this means a move from taught modules to one, big, self-directed and mentored project.

Radio Drama and…?

I know I’m going to write a radio drama, and I’ve a pretty good idea of what it will be about (hint: when the news broke about Savile…). What I’m less sure about are the other key components for the academic rather than creative element of the project.

I’m thinking: writing workshops with folk who, like me, are sight impaired – how we create and ‘read’ in a more auditory and tactile world; or writing for wellbeing in that journaling, letters-to-self, diary keeping kind of way; or writers’ process, because that fascinates me. Any other suggestions would be gratefully received. (There might be something in considering cake in the life of a writer, so many of us seem to need like it.)

Keep On

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This unpunctuated sign was propped against a fence in Nottingham’s University Park. Someone knew I would be there. I’ve been reading The War of Art by Steve Pressfield. It’s shocking. I think he wrote it for me. If you read it, beware, it will treat and cure you.

What have I been keeping off? Calling myself a writer and making writing my work. Not my life, not all there is of me, but choosing it as my work, my craft and my art. Putting in the hours and the miles.

The book (the sign) has changed all that. My name is Helena Durham, I am a writer. Gulp. I feel sure that brings some responsibilities, just not quite sure what. Yet.