The Harley Singers
When I arrived at Bristol, I heard whispers on the wind of a group of male singers come and gone at the University. Formed by music students and other male singers who felt the need for a fraternal musical atmosphere, the Harley Singers, then affectionately dubbed the Scholads Bantorum (a play on Bristol's excellent all-female Schola Cantorum Chapter) was a space where male voice music was appreciated and performed to the delight, mainly, of the performers. But that was before my time and the Singers were no longer singing. Being from a Welsh Male Voice Choir backround, a member of Only Boys Aloud, I soon yearned for the fraternal joy and thrumming overtones that come with singing with a bunch of blokes. So, I hatched a plan. I asked my dear friend Oliver Bowes and de-facto music "father" Felix Dickenson if they would support me in my endeavour to rebirth the mighty Harley singers with a new generation of singers and a new generation of song. I had great plans, we were to be known across the city, revered for our close-to-the mark naughty songs and renowned for our exquisite throes to haute-culture. They obliged.
So we set about developing our not-so-secret society of the best male singers in Bristol. We had business cards printed with "say yes" and an email address on. We left them on seats in rehearsals, dropped them into bags and one by one we began receiving emails and a choir began to emerge. Not too long after we began rehearsals for a concert in June, the middle of exam season. Rehearsals were sporadic and similarly attended and as exam season hit, even more so. Our concert ended up flopping with poor marketing and a loss of energy from all involved. HOWEVER, the Harley Singers was never about the audience, it was always about the performers. And we killed it out there. We loved what we did and moments of that gig will resonate with me forever.
The Harley Singers have not sung together since. We all drifted off our separate ways. After the enormous effort we put in for that one tiny concert, we all found better ways to expend our energy. In a way, I always knew it would never last forever. In a way, it was like the legend of the Harley Singers of old. It was a whisper on the wind, a fleeting visit to the heady world of all male singing and then out again.
Thank you Harley Singers. May the generations of you to come be as fleeting as the last.
Post Script: it seems the writing of this has achieved as sense of closure I didn't know I needed. Funny that.