December 1971 Can you spot little Oonah Kyle amongst this angelic choral throng? Yes I am there.

Ballymena Academy Senior Girls' Choir

That gentleman in the back row was Mr Thomas Greenwood, a Cambridge graduate and much feared and reviled Latin Master. He devoted endless time to training us not only to sing but to annunciate. He came from Culleybackey himself, but you’d never have known that when he spoke. And whilst I know other students detested him, and despite the fact that I was no Latin scholar, I really adored the man. His erudition and dedication were unquestionable and I admired those qualities.

He used to sneak in at French Society meetings if my sister Esme came to sing (she was at adifferent school but her singing was always welcomed everywhere) and he told me I was the only true contralto in the choir. I was certainly the only one who could reach the bottom note in Benjamin Britten’s “Ceremony of Carols”, which is what we had spent all term learning for this particular concert. And I learned an appreciation for Britten from that experience that I do not think I could have come to in any other way than by singing his work. It’s levels of difficulty in both range and rhythm make Britten’s work extremely rewarding to sing. ‘This litle Babe’ was the piece I found most challengeing because it’s so very quick and one has to sing against the other parts not with them – it took such concentration!

I listen to “A Ceremony of Carols” every Christmas and I can still sing along to some of it, even now.

This December I am in Bewildering Stories, Apollo’s Lyre, The Linnet’s Wings and Every Day Fiction where I took the Boxing Day slot and colleague Sandra Crooks has Christmas Day. I’ll place links as they come up.

Join us a EDP every day too – we have some great poems this month.