Adopt a Music Creator blog: A great first night

Hayley Hodges, member of Voices of Exmoor, talks about her group's premiere night as the finale of their collaboration with music creator Hannah Fredsgaard-Jones.

The big day had finally arrived! Not just our first concert in two and a half years, but the world premiere of our original song written as part of Making Music’s Adopt A Music Creator 2022.

On Friday 16 September, choir members started to arrive at The Music Room on Woolhanger Estate for our final rehearsal. What a stunning venue! The room was filled with chairs; our marvellous front of house team had begun to organise everything necessary to greet the audience; and the sound engineer from Making Music was in the process of setting up the microphones needed to record our song. After months of preparation, the realisation of the importance of the task ahead of us had finally registered. 

Friday’s rehearsal didn’t go terribly well - but, with the old theatrical tradition that 'a terrible dress rehearsal means a great first night' ringing in our ears, we arrived on Saturday 17 September with even greater enthusiasm and determination. We warmed up using some of our usual exercises and built confidence by singing through parts of some of the songs in the programme. Then we retired to the 'Red Room' to allow the audience to gather, buy plenty of raffle tickets and find their seats.

The Woolhanger Estate was beautifully set up for our concert

Amanda Taylor, our musical director, gave us a few last-minute words of motivation and we were ready to go. As we walked into The Music Room, the applause of the audience was extremely welcoming and strangely comforting – it felt good to be performing together once again. The Barry Manilow classic 'One Voice' was the first item in our programme and we could feel the emotion building as we sang our way through it; this was going so much better than the rehearsal already. Every song we sang was followed by enthusiastic applause and, before we knew it, the interval had arrived and we returned to the Red Room feeling very happy.

However, we needed to keep the momentum going for the second half which included a real mixture of songs, both gentle and poignant as well as lively and fun. And, of course, our world premiere. Amanda gave a brief introduction to the Adopt A Music Creator project and then invited Lynne Plowman, our mentor, and Hannah Fredsgaard-Jones, our music creator, to say a few words about the whole process. It was a real privilege to finally be able to perform our song, 'Over the Moor', to an audience of people who are so familiar with the beauty and uniqueness of Exmoor. 

'Over the Moor (...) was appropriately fresh, with an ongoing outdoors feeling of travel befitting the flowing waters, moving creatures and changing seasons of Emoor, being original yet clearly part of the English pastoral tradition, and truly illustrative of the place.' - Richard Westcott, concert review

The concert came full circle with a final rendition of 'One Voice', in which we were joined by Hannah and Lynne, and the audience joined us in a rousing encore of 'When the Saints go marching in'.

It felt absolutely fantastic to hear the clapping and cheering of the audience and to know that we had all pulled together to create such an enjoyable occasion for everyone. We would like to sincerely thank everyone who came to support us and all those people who helped to make the whole evening such a success.

See you at our Christmas concert!

Read Hannah's account of the premiere night

Find out more about Voices of Exmoor on their website, and follow Hannah on Facebook / Instagram.

The Adopt a Music Creator project matches vocal and instrumental leisure-time music groups with some of the UK’s most promising music creators to collaborate on creating a new piece of music. The project leads to a premiere performance and possible broadcast. If you’re a music group or music creator and you’d like to take part, find out more.