METM13, Poblet

MET’s impromptu choir first found its voice at the closing dinner of METM08 in Split (Croatia), where a group of enthusiastic but – it must be said – ill-prepared singers, at the instigation of Ailish Maher and under the baton of Carolyn Newey, interrupted the closing dinner with an idiosyncratic version of On Ilkla Moor Baht ‘at (Yorkshire folk song), complete with chorus lines rendered in Croatian. Surprise gave way to bemusement and, finally, rousing applause, likely fuelled by the copious glasses of wine drunk during the meal.

The seed had been sown, although five years would pass before the choir reassembled. In July 2013, Ailish Maher wrote to the Split singers suggesting we prepare something for METM13 in Poblet (Catalonia). The idea snowballed with the support of that year’s METM organizer Anne Murray and MET member and musician Elke Bartholomäus, who coached us through a couple of rushed rehearsals to put on a reasonable rendition of Wade in the Water (negro spiritual). In keeping with the choir’s pledge to honour the language of our host country, we also sang El Meu Avi (Catalan habanera). Again, the songs were performed during the closing dinner and this time some of the kitchen staff came out to join in, one even moved to tears.

The MET choir performs the negro spiritual “Wade in the Water”. Thanks to MET member Kymm Coveney for making the video and giving permission for it to be posted.