Colin Easterbys Desert Island Discs
This was written in 2017 when Colin had been with the Dalesmen Singers for around six years and had become a regular soloist in the choir. He has had a colourful life in music and so had we asked him to share some of this with us. Read on...

When I was asked to pick my ten 'Desert Island Discs' for an article for the Dalesmen website, I had to think long and hard as music is one of the consistent threads in my life. It is so evocative of the many things that have happened in my musical life that choosing ten pieces isn't so easy!
My first serious encounter with the world of music was at an early age, when I became a chorister at St Michael and All Angels parish church, Linton near Grassington. Church choral music is always special, and Ernest Lough's 'Oh, for Wings of a Dove' (from Mendelsonn's 'Hear my Prayer') is a reminder of the pure chorister sounds of that time. This would be my first choice of desert island discs, Whilst as a youngster participating in my first oratorio, Stainer's Crucifixion, I was chosen to sing the treble part in the well known quartet 'God so Loved the World'.  This stirs memories whenever I hear it , and therefore this would be my second choice.  
Whilst entering secondary education in Skipton, one of the teachers who was involved in school music recognised some potential and I became his choice as a soloist in school concerts. During this time I was also fortunate enough to be accepted by a professional music teacher who endeavoured to teach me the rudiments of music. Highlights during this period before I bade farewell to my treble voice, were taking part in music festivals and singing concerts. On my music teacher's recommendation I was given the opportunity to attend an audition at the BBC studios in Manchester, for Children's Hour.  All of this gave me invaluable experience which has since served me well in my singing career!
My third choice of music is one of the ongoing  pieces from my repertoire, Ralph Vaughan Williams' Linden Lea, chosen to remind me of the upbringing I enjoyed in the countryside whilst living and experiencing the sights and sounds of the Yorkshire Dales.
Whilst attending music lessons during this time, some of the students were given the opportunity to make a recording of  a song of their choice. I chose G F Handel's 'Art thou Troubled', having been influenced by the late Kathleen Ferrier's version, and this would therefore be my fourth choice of music.

It's hard for people today to imagine how dull and dreary popular music was for a teenager in the post war years of the early fifties or the phenomenal impact made when Rock n' Roll burst on the scene. I was completely knocked out by the music of Elvis Presley, the Everly Brothers, Bill Haley and his Comets, Buddy Holly and the Crickets, and many more fantastic performers from America. I still have a large collection of the hits from this era but the one that captured it all for me, and still does , was Jerry Lee Lewis's Great Balls of Fire - to a young lad this was it and it certainly warrants a high five from me!!
So, fired up by the pop scene and becoming a young man of eighteen, I set out fulfil any young lads dream  to become the lead singer in a rock group! My thinking behind this at the time, being the opportunity to meet young ladies,  whilst pursuing my love of music and frequenting local dances!!
Whilst attending a local dance and singing with the visiting group I was approached by the band members and after discussions and attending the obligatory rehearsal was engaged as their singer. We enjoyed the journey that gigging, travelling and playing in various venues involved over a four year period and  I embraced the opportunity for us to become one of millions of groups aiming to be the next big thing!  Some of my generation attending our gigs in these days may recall 'Big Col and Pezants' with affection, having met the girls of their dreams at these gatherings, married and gone on to have children and grandchildren (as did I) - and now look back on the good old days of the age of good music and innocence!!
History does not recall the Band and perhaps we could have come up with a better name than 'The Pezants',  but we  thought we wowed audiences in all sorts of venues with all kinds of music in any places that would engage us! Our claim to fame was supporting Freddie and the Dreamers and the Mersey Beats and the Mojo's. Now when I hear Cliff Richard's Move It - it takes me right back to those heady days and so this would be my sixth desert island disc.
I married in 1962 and so life took another turn and steadied down. I was working then at the Co-Operative Society Bank,  but musically things were progressing and in 1966, I joined the Operatic Society at Sutton in Craven. This took me to a higher level, and proved to be a wonderful experience and a musical education, as we performed a wide range of music from the shows, pantomime, reviews and Gilbert and Sullivan productions.
This broadened my range considerably and I was increasingly auditioning for leading roles, such as in Annie Get Your Gun, Brigadoon, Oklahoma, Desert Song, Rose Marie and Carousel where I played Billy Biglow. I was involved in operatics with Sutton and Skipton  for twenty six years and as Carousel was my favourite, if I now have to pick a song to remind me of those halcyon days, it would be the soliloquy  'My Boy Bill'  (my seventh selection)
Following on from this period in my life came another musical change of direction. I joined the Steeton MVC a fine and well organised choir with a large repertoire. My eighth choice of music to remind me of this and the lovely countryside around my home in the Yorkshire Dales, is Martin Shaw's  Evening Pastorale with its descriptive passages reflecting summer evenings and bird song and all the sounds of nature that I experienced in my formative years.
During my tenure with Steeton, which was for twenty eight years I was awarded a life membership of the choir.  There was a change of MD and the conductor left. Due to popular request, he went on to form  a breakaway choir, gathering together some fine voices and setting a very high standard of performance. The choir was called  Airdale MVC and I  joined them,  being a member of the choir and a soloist for fourteen years prior to relocating to the North East in 2009. My choice of desert island disc for this period is the suitably named 'Calm is the Sea', a descriptive tone poem and I can see myself singing along to it whilst waiting for the rescue boat to collect me from my island!
As choir members who have sung the piece in question will know, it's a beautifully melodic piece which is still popular with many choirs and so is my ninth choice of music
With all the comings and goings of family life, work and music, I have always remained a country boy at heart and have loved the beautiful scenery and farms in the area.  In 2009 prior to joining the Dalesmen, I relocated from Skipton to join my partner, Barbara and so am now enjoying living in another beautiful area and singing in rural locations reminiscent of my former stamping ground. New friendships have evolved within a very friendly, kind and extremely supportive  community, sympathetic to my needs that permit me to 'carry on singing'. (could that be title for a film!)
In addition to enjoying the Dalesmen MVC, I really do appreciate the help I receive from choir members which enables me to continue participating in concerts and solo's. With plenty of encouragement from friends this involvement in singing has expanded  and I now also sing with the Lealholm Singers, am the male vocalist  in the Downe'n Outs Jazz Band, and sing with friends in other venues.
There is no one piece of music that can encapsulate all of this which is so important to me but as I can only take 10 pieces to the desert island I have to make a final choice.  As a tribute to this part of the world that has suffered more than most with the demise of the coal industry and its mining traditions, my choice as number ten is an old reflective and thought provoking favourite, Take me Home
Colin Easterby