Huddersfield singers create virtual performance to support mental health during ‘lockdown’

An acapella singing group from Huddersfield has taken to the virtual world for the past year in a bid to keep well, creative and connected during ‘lockdown’.

Far Cry Acapella has continued to meet every week online since March 2020 and has recently released its first video recording of a popular folk song, ‘Sing John Ball’.

Musical Director Jenny Goodman, from Marsden, said “Lockdown has been a real challenge – we’ve missed singing together face to face and the sheer joy that brings. We’ve all felt the impact but especially those members who live alone and are working from home.

“Having that weekly contact with the group has been vitally important in terms of supporting people’s mental and physical health and preventing isolation.”

The group has embraced the virtual world – from regular weekly Zoom practices to creating their own video and remotely recording an original song for the Mooonraking Festival in Slaithwaite.

Far Cry member Elaine Lonsdale feels she has benefited enormously from being able to keep singing with the group – even remotely.

“When you live on your own, going out and being active or taking part in group activities is so important for your well-being. The Zoom singing sessions have been my ‘hour to aim for’ every week. Not just for the company of different faces and voices, but the physicality of deep breathing and actually singing – even if was in my own front room.”

Making the ‘Sing John Ball’ video together presented its own challenges for the group as they weren’t able to sing face to face:

“It was quite a complicated process with me having to record guide tracks for each part and then people recording audio on their phones, followed by videoing themselves  – all done individually in their own homes before it could be pieced together,” said Jenny.

Pictured outside the Lawrence Batley Theatre. The group look forward to being able to meet in person again soon.

“We had fun too, creating different scenarios and images to go with the words. It even stars our very own pet snake because one of the verses refers to Adam and Eve! ”

‘Sing John Ball’ was written by Sydney Carter in 1981 to commemorate the 500th anniversary of The Peasant’s Revolt – also known as Watt Tylers Rebellion. 

“We love singing this song,” says Elaine “It’s become our lockdown anthem because it’s so rousing and is all about coming together to overcome adversity. It really lifts our spirits.”

Far Cry is a mixed acapella performance group singing songs from different folk traditions around the world, songs of freedom as well as more popular tunes and original material – anything from ‘Moon River’ and ‘Don’t Fence Me In’ to a rousing Luddite tribute, Georgian lullabies, African work songs and Christmas folk carols.

The group hopes to get back to performing live during the summer.  Previously they have sung at local Festivals, including Hebden Bridge and Holmfirth Arts Festivals, and Slaithwaite Moonraking, in libraries, on the streets, and at local carol concerts.

“Our varied repertoire can be adapted to suit a range of events,” said Jenny. “We love singing together and putting our heart and soul into every performance.” 

If you would like to book the choir for your event, contact Jenny Goodman on 07984 584923 or email singing.jennyg@googlemail.com

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