We were lucky enough to speak to Antonella Harrison, the new Chair of theBarcarolle Choir. She agreed to tell us more about the challenges ahead and the goals she has set for herself to keep this talented choir alive and growing.
Q How did you originally join Barcarolle Choir?
A. After more than 25 years of a busy professional life, I made the difficult decision to slow down and to take time to pursue my passions and hobbies while working as a consultant. Music was certainly one of my priorities, but more in the form of dance at the time. It was then that a friend told me about Barcarolle Choir and suggested I attend one of their singing workshops. I loved the experience, which reminded me of when I used to sing accompanied by a guitar with my friends in Italy.
I then joined the choir on a regular basis at the end of 2018, and took part in weekly singing sessions led by Sam Evans, our infectiously enthusiastic musical director. Some time later I became involved in the choir committee and then helped prepare the Christmas concert.
Q If you had to name a particularly strong moment during these first months?
A.The concert we gave in the summer of 2019 really took me back in time and reminded me of my ballet dancing days. I had prepared a short dance routine for the occasion, which four singers and I performed while singing Rain Drops keep falling on my head.
Q What was the pandemic like for you?
A. The pandemic forced us to meet bonZoom, which is not ideal for singing! But it kept us together as a team and gave us that extra bit of strength that we needed during pretty hard times.
Q. When did you take up your position asChair? What did you feel at the time?
A. I started April 1rst – it was probably the greatest personal achievement of the past year but also the most challenging, given the health restrictions and last-minute changes involved – not to mention the financial and organisational aspects to be managed!
Q. What do you think will be your biggest challenge in the coming months?
A. Probably the need to make decisions that reconcile, on the one hand, our desire to be together in person to sing and give concerts and, on the other hand, the need to take all necessary precautions to protect the whole choir, especially the most vulnerable.
Q. What are your main objectives?
A. I am convinced that music is a fundamental source of happiness, both for us singers and for the audience. For many of us, it can even be a kind of therapy, even more so during difficult times like the current one, which is not yet over. So my personal short-term goal is to ensure that the choir gets together to sing and perform as often as possible. In the medium/long term, my ambition is to bring this joy of music to hospitals, homes for the elderly, and the communities around us.
Q. A word to end on?
R. I would like to express my gratitude to our previous Chair, Hélène Coste, for trusting me and inviting me to follow in her footsteps for this important and rewarding role.
Barcarolle Choir onwards and upwards ! You can contact us on our website, email and social networks. And come and join us at our rehearsals at St Cuthbert’s Church, Earl’s Court. The Barcarolle Choir is always delighted to welcome new singers!