All Saints' has a small but dedicated choir trained by Trevlyn Thomas. Trevlyn has a deep passion for church music, and in particular for singing…
When did your love for singing develop?
One of my first memories is my mother singing to me - every night: instead of a bed-time story, I had a bed-time song. Singing seemed as natural to me as breathing in and out. However, it was only when I was at teacher training college and had singing lessons with the wonderful Marjorie Brown (who had been Sir Thomas Beecham's repetiteur at Covent Garden) that I learned the technique of what is sometimes called “Bel Canto”. This technique not only produces a 'beautiful', even tone from top to bottom of the vocal range, but is a way of singing which places no stress on the vocal chords, thus ensuring good vocal health throughout life.
How long have you been part of the All Saints' family?
I joined the congregation in 2005 and became the organist and choir trainer in November 2013.
What does the role of Choir Trainer involve?
There are two aspects to this role. One is in teaching members the technique I learned, as well as the basic principles of singing in a choir, both of which give people confidence in their role as members of the Church Choir. The other is to introduce them to a wide variety of church music. The aim is to enable each member to experience the joy of making music together and of offering that to the glory of God.
What do you see as the role of music and choir in the life of our church?
The role of music in worship is a huge topic on which many distinguished church musicians have written at length. However, to take one small aspect, it is important to me that the hymns support the central 'message' of the Service. For many people in the congregation, singing in church is an important part of their worshipping experience, and the choir has a key role in leading this collective worship. Perhaps we might explore this topic more fully in Future conversations.
What do people experience when they join the All Saints' choir?
I think they will find a warm welcome, the opportunity and support to enhance their singing skills and an enjoyable experience with like-minded music lovers. If you're an absolute beginner you'll have what are in effect free singing lessons: if you are more experienced, there's an opportunity to learn more about how to get the best from your voice. Then there are the benefits to one's health. There's lots of research which shows that singing helps to reduce stress and anxiety: it releases positive chemicals in the body such as endorphins and oxytocin, it improves posture, cardiovascular health, and breathing – and it keeps the mind alert. To quote Andrew Reid, a recent Director of the Royal Schools of Church Music, 'Singing in a church choir is deeply counter-cultural: there are no time sheets, profit bonuses, attainment targets, performance indicators of cost-effectiveness strategies. There is rather, an infectious, whole-community shared goal of 'worshipping God in the beauty of holiness'.
What are your hopes for the choir at All Saints'?
At the moment our choir members are all adults but I would love to have some children and teenagers to train up not only for the future of the choir but to give them the life-long skill of being able to sing in a choir. It is difficult to compete with all the sporting and leisure activities that are available to young people today, but I would love to introduce the wealth of wonderful church choral music to the younger generation.
Please contact Trevlyn if you are interested in joining the choir or finding out more about music at All Saints' Cheadle Hulme.