HMP Whitemoor, December 2016
The Sing Inside team returned to HMP Whitemoor for their annual Christmas visit on Wednesday 14th December.
Many Cambridge chapel choirs often attempt to add some spice to their annual sequence of carols and readings, which can seem rather homogeneous year on year. This might involve using a cello to accompany the choir, say, or maybe singing a contemporary composition which involves placing sections of the choir in different areas around the building for an arresting stereophonic effect. Despite these efforts, however, it is often debatable whether a Christmas carol service actually lingers in the minds of the members of the congregation (and the musicians) for long after the event. Not so in the case of Whitemoor chapel. Here, the Christmas carol service is fashioned only for the highest levels of spontaneity and musical variety.
There were staple carols such as Deck the halls, Hark the Herald and O Come All Ye Faithful; and the Cambridge choir also performed some chamber pieces, including Tchaikovsky’s The Crown of Roses and Charles Wood’s Ding Dong Merrily on High. It is always a pleasure to take part in workshops in prison chapels, but not least when the day culminates in a service rather than a concert; the atmosphere is always slightly elevated. The chaplain’s sermon was focussed on reflecting on the year at Whitemoor, and inmates were invited to come up to the lectern to speak and share their thoughts, one of whom shared a C.D. recording of his poetry set to a house beat – full marks for spontaneity and musical variety! All of the readings too were read by inmates. As always, it was an excitable group who attended the workshop, and it was encouraging that many of the group had attended the workshops before and had visibly grown in confidence.