End of the first week

What a week it has been. Around 200 people have joined us for a sing this week, with over 60 more signed up but unable to join us for the first week. It’s been great fun getting back to singing, and lovely to see people returning, and to welcome new people to BeVox too.

Of course, it’s also been lovely to welcome Toni back this week too. For those of you who are new to us, Toni is the other director of BeVox. She looks after most of the admin, welcomes people at the door, sings with us, and is also my other half. She had a kidney and pancreas transplant in February, and this week was the first time she’s been able to join us since her operation.

Thanks to everyone for getting behind the changes for this season – I’m sure the variable seating plan will give everyone a new insight into how we sound as a group. I know that my other change, moving towards memorisation of the music for larger performances, has produced differing reactions – some people are very much in favour of this, and others are very much against. I’m considering all the feedback we’ve been given, and if any changes are needed, I’ll let you all know as soon as possible.

I’ll be sending out further information about our big concert at Wakefield Cathedral really soon – we had a great meeting with the event manager at the Cathedral last week and we’re very excited about putting this concert together. The refurbishment of the building is breathtaking, and we can’t wait to sing there.

We’re also hoping to get further information out in the next few days about other summer events, and to confirm all dates for additional sessions etc. As soon as we have everything in place, we’ll share it with you.

As always, if you have any questions, concerns or other feedback for us, don’t hesitate to let us know!

Music at the Minster

One of the nicest things about my job is that I’m exposed to the best bits of human nature on a regular basis. Three times a week, I’m surrounded by people who come together to share something they love doing, to see friends, to support each other and to dedicate a few hours to becoming better at something. The singers who make up BeVox are a loving, friendly, caring and generous bunch. This is a constant source of joy to me.

Yesterday, we came together to share that joy with an audience, and to remember one of our own who is no longer with us. The people that came to support us have matched our singers’ generosity of spirit with their generosity in donating to pancreatitis research, in memory of Carl. I’m overwhelmed to announce that the concert raised £3,089.35. Thank you to everyone who gave so generously – not just financially, but those who donated their time, energy and passion to make the event such a success.

And what a success it was! The atmosphere was electrifying, and it was thrilling to be singing to a packed house (again!). Every singer on that stage brought such energy and passion to the concert – energy that crackled in “Shine” and “Can you feel the boogie?”, passion that shone in “Fields of gold” and “The sound of silence”.

I believe last night was another milestone in the BeVox journey. It marked a point where we’ve “come of age” – I believe that as a choir, we now know we can do this, and that knowledge has brought a maturity of performance, a sensitivity to the music, and an ability to relax into the experience and enjoy it. Yes, we still have edges we can tidy up, but the core of what we do is now really solid and secure. We’re going to keep building on it!

We couldn’t achieve something like last night’s concert without the dedication of everyone involved. I’d like to correct an omission I made last night – please take a bow, Rickey Long, and accept my heartfelt thanks for accompanying us so ably. I’d also like to thank Miriam from Totally Boxed (and Emily and Maisie too), and my mum and dad, for all their assistance with the box office and looking after the audience. A big thank you to the event staff at Southwell Minster, who accommodated us wonderfully and were really helpful throughout. And of course, Pauline – where would we be without you? (Probably still in the dressing rooms, waiting to be called… 🙂

It’s been a tough season, with disruptions due to snow and illness. We’ve pulled together, overcome adversity, and shown what BeVox is really made of. I’m so proud of who we are together, and I can’t wait for next season – especially as (with luck) Toni will be back with us. I can’t wait to see what the future brings.

Sheffield concert

Another great concert last night, as Sheffield raised the roof with its end-of-season performance. Great to see another full house, and to get some lovely reactions afterwards. Thanks to everyone who came to support us, and to everyone who contributed to making it such a good night.

There were some really strong solo performances, as well as the choir in good voice. I’d like to say particular congratulations to Jacky B and Jacky W. Jacky B, recovering from a mis-pitched start takes nerves of steel, and once you’d got into the groove you delivered a strong performance, made all the more impressive by the fact you didn’t let your false start put you off. Well done. Jacky W, after auditioning so many times and not getting anything, you chose last night to deliver a spine-tingling performance. It was absolutely the best I’ve ever heard you sing – a masterclass in bringing light and shade to a song. Thanks for your perseverance, for putting the work in, and treating us to a beautiful performance.

All the other soloists did a great job too, from people who have done it many times before to people who are still pretty new to solo singing – congratulations to Paul on your first big solo, and Shelley on continuing to impress after your first solo outing last week.

The choir were in good voice, with “The Sound of Silence” being the stand-out moment – I had some lovely feedback on this one from an audience member who is a big Simon & Garfunkel fan, but who said that our performance had been like listening to the song for the first time. There were several other moments that really showcased what a good sound we can make – looking forward to building on this more and more in the coming months.

So, off to Southwell tomorrow – can’t wait! Hopefully see you there…

Wakefield end of season concert – incredible!

I’m going to say it – that was simply the best concert we’ve done in Wakefield! Thank you to every single person who made it such a triumph of an evening. Great to see the venue full, and what a reaction! You should all be very proud of that standing ovation – you earned it.

Congratulations to all the soloists, who rose to the occasion (even those that had to cope with me getting the key wrong!). But I think the biggest congratulations of all have to go to the choir as a whole – you put in a mind-blowingly strong performance, and you nailed all the little details that I’ve been going on and on about for the last few weeks. I’ll be honest and say “The Sound of Silence” was a worry for me – I’ve never been sure whether we’d get it just the way I’d imagined it. It was a thing of beauty tonight, just the way I wanted it. And what can I say about Les Mis? Some fantastically powerful and emotional singing there, and I’m thrilled to have shared the stage with you all. If that’s what you can do in a “regular” concert, I can’t wait to hear you all at Wakefield Cathedral on July 27th!

I’m very much looking forward to doing it all again in Sheffield on Thursday, then in Southwell on Saturday. I think this is going to be an emotional week!

Thanks to Jane Hughes’ family for videoing the end of the concert – watch it here: The Les Mis medley from the end of the Wakefield 2013 Spring concert

Really enjoyable performance at Ecclesall Live At Home

We were made very welcome by the organisers at Ecclesall Live At Home for our performance there last Thursday, and it was great fun singing for everyone there. I’ve had lots of lovely feedback, and we certainly won’t leave it 18 months between visits again.

I thought it was going to be a challenge for us to make a good sound for this one, as it was a very unusual balance of voice types, but everyone rose to the challenge and sounded really excellent. A big thank you to the tenors and basses for holding their own – not easy when there’s 4 of you against 26 women! Also a big thumbs up to all the soloists – especially Shelley, doing her first ever public solo performance.

Hopefully people will remember to check BeVox OnLine for the dress code details before each performance, so we’re all on the same page. I’ll also try to make it far clearer what the running order is for each concert – having the list of songs in different orders in different places really isn’t helpful, so I’ll come up with a solution for that as soon as I can.

Looking forward to the next set of concerts now – Wakefield tonight, Sheffield on Thursday, and Southwell on Saturday. Woohoo!