“A couple of things linked to Rammy Orchestra. I joined about fifteen years ago. I attended a concert as a member of the audience and was introduced to Barry. He mentioned that the Society had a double bass stored in a big box in the Gallery of Greenmount Church and no one to play it-did I want to borrow it and learn from scratch? I said yes and arranged a van to collect it, and then spent four months practising before my debut at the Christmas Concert!
I remember one concert where the Brass Section was held up in traffic. Barry decided we had to start without them, when suddenly the lights fused and we were all plunged into darkness. An electrician was called for-he, rapidly restored the lights-whereupon we realised that the Brass section were all sat in position having sneaked in under cover of darkness.”
One simply marvels that Barry was inspired to take on the orchestra to accompany the choir in those early days.
Fortunately, the Bury orchestra had just disbanded and so a number of gifted amateurs took refuge by joining the newly formed ensemble. As far as one remembers the following took the plunge to widen their horizons playing to enhance the choral society: Elizabeth Forest violin, Eileen Stevens violin and Peter playing French horn. Peter was indeed a very talented musician whereby he would conduct the rehearsals if Barry was occasionally indisposed. Also playing were Geoffrey Clark viola, David Bailey flute, Arthur Price violin, Shirley Mitchell viola and Leslie Douthwaite who became the leader of the orchestra. In addition he would re-hair bows and tend to the welfare of our instruments.
In those early days, Barry inspired all of us together with the singers in the choir, combining all of us to enrich the musical life of those people living in Rossendale. It was a pleasure for each of us to play for the choir in the major oratorios where the choir gave us the impetus to enrich their sound. As always the sopranos were special as indeed they still are.
In those early days the rehearsals took place at Hazlehurst Primary school where we were well suited. Every now and again we would be assailed by an irate neighbour stopping the rehearsal, since someone had parked his car in front of the complainant’s house! Oh dear! They seemed to own the street!
One also remembers, with regret, a performance of the Messiah at the Methodist Church in Ramsbottom where we seemed to fall apart in one of the choruses. A reminder that one has to be alert at all times, especially when playing a fugue. Lose your place and there is no way back!
Since then we have moved from strength to strength and the coming concert will testify the truth of that statement. The achievements over the years have been beyond praise, thanks to our love for the choral tradition.