Throughout the years we've been singing for funerals, no pattern for bookings has emerged. However, over the last months, one has emerged - bookings for the middle Friday of the month.
Some lovely feedback from a very happy daughter after her mother's funeral last week. They wanted to have her favourite arias sung: Si mi chiamano Mim from La Bohème and Un bel di from Madam Butterfly.
It was lovely to sing some opera in a wonderful chapel. The service was at Golder's Green Crematorium, the oldest in London, which had plaques in remembrance of many famous people who have been cremated there. It was a lovely heartfelt service with the sun shining.
I just wanted to express our heartfelt thanks for your beautiful performance of mums favourite arias yesterday at her funeral.
The service was beautiful and perfect because of what you delivered. It will be something so beautiful to hold onto at this very difficult time for us.
Thank you so very much.
I hope you got home safe and well yesterday and if you want a testimonial for your website please don’t hesitate to ask as you made it such a special day for mum and for us and for everyone in attendance.
The funeral on Thursday (one of the hottest days of the year so far), was lovely. It is amazing how a large amount of sunshine can lift your spirits even when attending a funeral.
The mourners, obviously missing their beloved family member, were still able to bring a smile to their grief stained faces, thanks to the sunshine lifting their mood.
Portchester crematorium looked lovely in the sunshine
A rare treat for singer Kirsty recently, two funerals in two days with her favourite funeral organist Paul Burgoyne. Two very contrasting services too!
First, a RC mass in London where Kirsty led the hymns and sung various responses, while Paul conquered a rather reluctant piano that had no sustain. A sincere and heartfelt service with lovely family contributions, including readings and a song by the grandchildren.
One of our recent clients explains (in an unsolicited letter) just what our singing at his father’s funeral meant to him:
“On behalf of my whole family, I had to write to thank you for your beautiful performance at my father’s funeral service. Everyone found the combination of your perfect voice and the organ accompaniment very moving and uplifting.
At Singers for Funerals, we are more than aware that a lot of people find it difficult to sing at a funeral because they are emotionally involved. This is absolutely natural, as if you are upset and literally ‘uptight’, you are constricting your vocal mechanism.
We are often asked to sing songs in a service that are special to the family, and we in turn enjoy sharing readings and poems chosen by the family to celebrate a loved one's life.
We also know how hard it can be for family members to read at a funeral, so when one client asked mezzosoprano Kirsty to read a poem on their behalf in addition to singing, she was happy to oblige.
Rather than selecting a poem form an anthology, the daughter had written one herself, comparing her late mother to a butterfly. It was charming, elegant, heartfelt, and a pleasure to read, and added a lovely personal touch to the service. The client was clearly delighted to hear her poem spoken:
"Thank you so much for the beautiful singing at Mum's funeral. There were lots of compliments and I hope that you did get to chat with some of well wishers before you left. The poem too sounded great, you read it with just the same emphasis to each verse as I had imagined so I was thrilled, thank you."
J, on her mother's funeral in a country church in Hampshire
So, if you're struggling to find that perfect reading, why not write it yourself?
As funeral singers, we often find ourselves discussing funeral service choices with the family in a rush before the event, as they were left with no clue as to what the deceased actually wanted for their funeral.
Not so at a funeral this week, which was like the deceased himself - 'organised'. He had left precise instructions as to hymns and music, and had even dictated his own eulogy for his grandson to read. (A tough call, but the lad did his grandfather proud.)
So, when a member of the family realised just two days before that a choir would not be available, she simply rang us with her late father's music choices. We suggested adding a sung entry (Ave Maria), rather than unspecified organ music, and that was that, booking made, problem solved.
And what a good, honest, British funeral service it was, led by an excellent Padre with just the right mixture of celebration and sombre ceremony. It was a joy to sing one of my favourite hymns, "He who would valiant be (To be a pilgrim)", and I was grateful for Padre's extra baritone vocals as the setting was rather low even for me!
There are funeral services, and there are moving, life-affirming funerals that make you feel proud to have been part of it. This was definitely one of the latter.
"Just to say a huge thank you for singing at my father's funeral yesterday. You have the voice of an angel, and the entrance solo set the scene for a very moving service."
LH, funeral in Bordon, Hampshire
Although we never ask our clients for a 'review', their feedback and comments are always gratefully received. In case you haven't found it yet, we've put these together on a new Client Testimonials page. These are all as sent to us, edited only to remove names and to shorten from longer and often very moving emails and letters.
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