These delightful Sunday evening gatherings are held on the first Sunday of each month. I wanted to share my appreciation and gratitude for them.
A circle of chairs is laid out to accommodate a gathering of performers and audience, and before 7pm there is the bustle of informal ‘sound checks’ and ‘warm up’ sessions happening in the committee room. The two organisers, Rev Kate Dean and Joey Clarkson make final preparations.
‘Spiritual Open Mic’ doesn’t fully explain the proceedings, since performers and programme are arranged beforehand. However, there may be some elements in common.
Firstly, these are evenings where live, acoustic performances of words and music are shared and we, the listeners, can be transported to different spheres, well away from the business of everyday life, especially in a space that musicians praise for its acoustics and as the light fades in the Chapel.
I have memories of listening to original songs during these events, with guitar accompaniment, prefaced by brief words of introduction – the time, the place, perhaps the reason. I can remember enjoying a Jewish folk tale, expressively leading my imagination on a winding journey, keeping me in suspense so effectively until the final dénouement. And poetry. What a beautiful setting for sharing original poetic compositions.
What variety exists; some performers are ‘regulars’ and have a month to hone personal offerings. There’s humour, as well as suspense, yearning, pathos, beauty. Originality is valued but not required. The live ‘sharing’ in this intimate setting is the welcome part.
Yet an element of ‘Open Mic’ spontaneity can emerge freely. This has happened when two artists collaborate unprepared, as when recently I heard a flute player with a Chinese bamboo flute accompany a performance poet, ‘on the spot’. Other artists might feel a possible rapport, as the evening progresses. Might one call it a gentle form of ‘jamming’? But unlike other venues, in this setting, one might feel lost for words to describe the experience, where one’s soul has been nurtured.
Listeners are just as vital as artists. Please do join us, and if you would like to share a poem or story, please contact Rev Kate Dean.