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Singing up a storm

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By Donald Turvill
Dumfries and West
Singing up a storm

A COMMUNITY choir are singing their way through the pandemic.

The Castle Douglas-based CatStrand Singers have been regularly rehearsing over Zoom whilst Covid restrictions continue to prohibit big groups meeting up.

But a reduction in face-to-face practices has not resulted in a drop in productivity for the group, who are putting together the works of a CD and accompanying songbook.

Working with local writers as part of the Ken Words project, ‘Singing the Galloway Glens’ takes inspiration from – and pays homage to – the culture, dialect and landscape of the Ken/Dee Valley in a collection of original songs.

CatStrand Singers’ musical director, Nicola Black, said: “I’m so enjoying this project. It’s been so good to write songs made from local people’s words and experiences. It’s a challenge, but the choir are enjoying it.

Anne Chaurand, CatStrand Singers member, added: “Our weekly Zoom sessions are well attended and provide a joyful, if challenging, platform for learning our exciting new repertoire. We miss singing live together so much, but every week we familiarise ourselves with our special new songs. They are incredibly varied; Nicola’s creativity is brilliant. She is also very good at keeping the fun in with the learning. “We also have a new member joining us recently! Until the magic moment when we can sing live together again, the project continues to give us a sense of purpose and connection.”

It is made possible by the Galloway Glens ‘Our Heritage’ Small Grants Scheme, which awarded the choir £5000 for the project.

Galloway Glens Administrator, Jude Crooks, said: “We are super impressed by the devotion, enthusiasm, and the Singers’ resilience in keeping this project alive and full of energy in these remarkable and difficult circumstances.

“Many thanks as always to the National Lottery Heritage Fund Scotland for the funding and for the support from partners including Dumfries & Galloway Council’s Environment Team and the Galloway & Southern Ayrshire UNESCO Biosphere.”

Production of the CD and songbook is currently ongoing whilst the group continues its weekly Zoom rehearsals every Thursday from 11 am to 12 pm.

If you are interested in joining the CatStrand Singers, contact Susan, Anne or Lis at lis.lewis49@gmail.com or follow them on the ‘Catstrand Singers’ Facebook page.

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