We brought you a review recently of a performance by Lanzarote Gospel Choir (see archives) and mentioned an English lady in the choir, called Anne Rees who charmingly agreed to sit through one of our hugely interrogative, but always polite, interviews. Sidetracks and Detours are delighted to now include on our all across the arts blog Anne´s responses to our questions. Her answers perfectly describe how new residents from other countries can help themselves settle into a new country by tasting the the tapas or smorgasbord of arts and cultures available.

In much the same way as Anne Rees joined the various organisations she talks about in this interview, so my wife Dee became the only English person in a yoga group of mainly Spanish ladies and Dee will tell anyone willing to listen that those ladies were hugely helpful to her in settling here on Lanzarote.

So, we introduced Anne to the ´five bums at the bar´ (so named for reasons we have explained previously on these pages), and invited messrs. Who, What, When, Where and Why to fire questions at her. She handled the salvo perfectly, and informatively, from the opening question of,….

WHO is Anne Rees from England and how did she end up in a Spanish Gospel Choir?

Anne Rees
a member of The Lanzarote Gospel Choir

´My husband and I first came to Lanzarote in 1985.  Between 1985 and 2007 we visited the island many times each year.  During this time we made many friends and learned many of the local customs. When I say customs I include those of the banks, utility companies and government bodies, which do involve using patience and understanding!! In 2007 we made the move to come and live in Lanzarote permanently, a decision we never regretted.´

´I had taken Spanish in evening classes in England and even passed a GCSE but that was not a great deal of help when living here and talking with the locals.

Not wanting to live feeling I was an outsider I was determined to get as involved as possible with the Spanish community.  In England I had attended cookery evening classes and thought that would be a great way to meet and mix with Spanish people while helping my Spanish language.

I telephoned Zonzamas school in Arrecife to see if they offered this type of class but discovered they only offered it as a route to working in a hotel or restaurant.  However the person who answered the telephone, and the only time she had answered the telephone, was the Head of English. I told her what I wanted to do and she told me she wanted to practise her English so we met and have formed a very good friendship. 

From this friendship, along with other English volunteers, we go into schools in Arrecife to give the students practice in conversational English.  All of us volunteers agree that we gain as much from this experience as the students. It is great to hear of the young people’s hopes and aspirations. 

Among the students I have met there is a Canarian Chess champion, a student who wants to be a seismologist, and another who wants to study in South Korea making computer games, as well as others who are very content and happy to remain living in Lanzarote for the rest of their lives.

I have dabbled in many Spanish activities including Salsa dancing (a complete disaster – no rhythm and not understanding the Spanish), cookery classes (I eventually found some), bridge classes, intercambios (a great way to make friends), and dog training to name but a few.´

Gareth Malone choir master

WHEN did your love of listening to and singing music begin?

´I was brought up in the sixties so my love of music comes from Top of the Pops. Every week there were new pop songs, to which I probably know the words to this day. It was a great decade for popular music.It was through a Spanish friend who I play golf with that I became aware of the Gospel Choir.  Having watched programmes on TV featuring Gareth Malone I had always wondered what it was like to sing among a group of other people.  I had no previous singing experience apart from with the radio at home.´

WHAT does it feel like when Ezequiel raises his hands for you all to sing the first note of a concert in a full theatre.

´I only started with the choir in October 2019 and at first was very nervous about singing out in case I ruined it for everyone. I soon became more confident and Ezequiel goes into great detail to make sure we practise each part of the song to get it right.

The girls in the choir have been very supportive and welcoming even though most of the time I do not understand “Canarian chat” when everyone is talking together as we do in English. The atmosphere behind the stage on Thursday evening was so exciting.  It was like being back at school, a real party feeling, all in it together and we were so animated that we were told off for making too much noise as the theatre was beginning to fill up.´

WHERE, geographically and spiritually has your love of music takenyou? 

´Having joined the choir and now learning the gospel songs I now realise how uplifting they are and when you hear the sounds made purely by human voices it does send a tingle down your spine.´

WHY did you choose a gospel choir to join, and WHY does gospel feel so uplifting?

´I must admit that Gospel music would probably not have been my first choice (of musical genre) at this stage in life.´

´However, having been brought up to go to church I remember how good it felt to be singing with the congregation when I was young. I went home on Thursday evening on a real high. Ezequiel had done such a great job of involving the audience that everyone, audience and choir, had fun and everyone took part. Who knew you could have so much fun singing?´

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