Tuesday 22 October 2019

It's all about feeling for Gospel choir

Enniscorthy Gospel Choir
Enniscorthy Gospel Choir

Brendan Keane

Most people who are into music cannot but be moved by the repertoire of Gospel choirs who incorporate rhythm and blues, soul and elements of traditional blues into their music to create something that is upbeat, uptempo, and uplifting.

Enniscorthy Gospel Choir is one such group and its members embrace many different facets of music to produce what could only be described as an incredible overall sound.

The groups musical director, Anita Mahon, and longtime choir member, Pauline Murphy, met with this newspaper to discuss the choir and its plans for the coming months.

'We are always looking to expand,' said Pauline.

Since the beginning of this season the group has welcomed 10 new members on board and the overall figure for members now stands at 40.

'It's an all-inclusive group,' said Anita.

'We don't use sheet music and everyone is given a recording of their parts that they can listen to for rehearsals,' she added.

Sometimes people get a preconveived notion when they hear the word 'choir' that the group concerned is regimental in its structure, however, with Enniscorthy Gospel Choir the emphasis is placed very much in fun and social interaction.

The group holds regular 'in-house' social events such as pizza nights and quizzes where members get to relax and unwind in each others company in a very relaxed environment.

However, the music is what brings them all together and it's a shared love of music and song that cements the bond between members.

'There is a lot of movement involved in Gospel music because it's a physical form of music which relies very much on beat and rhythm,' said Anita.

In some ways describing the group as a 'choir' is wide of the mark because if offers its members a very eclectic and broad ranging outlet for creativity.

The group was formed in 2006 by Fr Dennis Kelly and its original ethos is very much alive today as well.

'I like incorporating sub-genres and it's very rhythmic and joyous,' said Anita.

The blues aspect of the group's programme is something that Anita said is very important.

'It provides a very solid foundation but it's also very free and expressive,' she said.

'There is movement in what we do.'

Pauline highlighted how people react differently to different forms of music and when it comes to planning the programme or participating in events there is a lot of input from the members.

'It really is a community choir,' she said.

The choir performs regularly in St Aidan's Cathedral in Enniscorthy but one of the highlights for Pauline to-date was when the members performed the Easter mass there and it was screened by RTE.

'That was a fantastic experience for us all,' she said.

'However, we are very much a community choir and we perform at a variety of events,' she added.

In the short term the members have been booked to sing at two weddings and their annual Christmas concert is always a big hit.

One of the things that was very much apparent when speaking to Anita and Pauline was the importance placed on fun for the members.

'It's all about enjoying the experience and the social aspect is very important to us,' said Pauline.

'It's very relaxed and there is always a laugh; it just lifts you.'

The fun aspect is also very beneficial from a vocal perspective as Anita pointed out: 'If you have fun your voice will perform better anyway.'

Anita has been involved in music for many years and specialises in voice training.

She was involved with the Munster Rugby Club supporters choir for a number of years and performed with them on the Late Late Show.

However, when she returned to live in Wexford three years ago she became immersed in music here and was asked by the Enniscorthy Gospel Choir chairperson, Aine Doyle, would she like to get involved.

'I love working with the members,' she said.

'I always think singing with choirs is the ultimate team sport,' she added.

'Everyone supports each other and it's just very uplifting to be involved with it.'

The members are very appreciative of the work of accompanist, Ger Griffin, who is held in very high regard by everyone involved.

The choir rehearses in the IFA Centre on Wednesday nights at 8 p.m. and anyone over 18 years of age is eligible to join.

In addition to encouraging new members to join the choir is also on the lookout for a percussionist to come on board to help with performances.

Anyone interested in getting involved can contact Pauline directly on 087 1305639.

Alternatively, the choir can also be contacted through its Facebook page or through

Enniscorthy Guardian