What a summer!

It’s been a really fun week – we had our end-of-season concerts on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, followed by a concert for Bolsover Parish Church yesterday afternoon. It’s the culmination of our summer season, our chance to share the music we’ve been making for the last twelve weeks with our friends, family and other guests. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the experience, and judging from the feedback we’ve received so far, so have our singers and audience members too!

When we were planning it, this season was meant to be a slightly easier ride than last season – we pushed ourselves hard for the Elemental concert, and we thought it would be a good idea to relax things a little this time around. That went out of the window pretty quickly though! The music was more complex than I’d originally intended, with wordy songs like “Windmills of your mind” and “Skid Row”, complex harmonies in things like “Blue skies”, stylistic challenges with “I won’t give up” and “The Greatest Showman medley” – it ended up being just as big a sing as last season was! Nevertheless, as ever, everyone rose to the challenge and we ended up with some really strong singing. Thank you to everyone who was a part of it along the way – both in the choir and in the audience.

Nottingham end-of-season

Our first full concert of the season was in Nottingham, and we returned to the Performing Arts building at Rushcliffe School. Everyone on stage did a grand job under challenging circumstances – probably the hottest room of the week, and the new addition of curtains all the way around the room also gave it a very dull acoustic. It took a little while to adapt, but as the concert went on, everyone raised their game all the way through to the finale. The end result was a mixed bag of a concert – a slow start, but a really strong finish, and I think everyone who was a part of it should be really proud of being able to push through the challenging situation and deliver something at that level.

Lincoln end-of-season

I don’t know about anyone else, but I had a slightly odd sensation going into the Epic Centre to set up for the concert – last time we were here was for Elemental, and it felt strange to be coming back to do a “normal” concert here, even though we’ve done so many times before. There must have been something in the air though, because the concert was electrifying. Singers from others areas who’d joined us in Lincoln were coming up to me in the interval and saying, “What’s happened? It feels like a different choir tonight!”. That’s the joy of live performance – you never know what’s going to happen until you start singing, and occasionally something really special comes together, for no particular reason at all! I loved being able to play with the songs and finding new subtleties in them – “Fields of gold” was a treat, with so many nuances it really came to life.

Sheffield end-of-season

Another hot room, another sell-out crowd – and another great concert. Having 110 singers on stage was always going to make a big sound, and it didn’t disappoint. We had a cracking reaction from the audience, and some really strong moments on stage too – I felt like I was on stage at a massive festival when we got to the final choruses of “You’re the voice”! The husband of one of our singers filmed the whole concert, so if you want to take a look, it’s on YouTube here.

Bolsover summer concert

Our (almost) final concert of the season was at Bolsover Parish Church, a venue that we’ve developed a great relationship with over the years, and a real treat to sing in. With just over forty singers, we made a great sound, and it echoed off the walls and up into the rafters – hurrah! The concert contained a very special moment for me: singing “Blue skies” with my beloved Grandma Joy in the audience. Joy introduced me to the music of Irving Berlin when I was really small, and her passion for his songs has stayed with me all these years. She went on to teach me music theory, and to encourage my development as a musician throughout my childhood, so it’s always a real thrill to be able to perform for her. It was also lovely to see a number of BeVox singers in the audience (as we’ve had at all the concerts this week) – it’s great that people want to support their fellow singers, and to see what all the fuss is about!

Onwards…

We have a few things coming up over the summer, with a summer singing day, our annual picnic, and (hopefully) singing at a wedding in Nottingham. We start sessions again in the middle of September, and we’re looking forward to that very much – some fun and interesting songs next season (see the full list here), and a return to The Octagon in Sheffield for our big concert. We’re also very close to releasing the DVD of Elemental, our unique concert from this spring – singers will be able to place pre-orders very soon indeed, then the DVD will go on general sale via our website in the Autumn. On top of all of that, we’re also getting very close to being able to announce our plans for our 10th anniversary celebrations next summer – watch this space!

Elemental: Reflections

For about the last year, Toni and I have been planning “Elemental”, our ground-breaking, multi-sensory themed concert experience. Since the beginning of the year, hundreds of BeVox singers have been working on the music. Countless hundreds of hours have been spent on the staging, lighting, sound design, videos and special effects. And it all came together in an utterly unique performance yesterday. In the immediate aftermath, I wanted to set down my thoughts and feelings about it all, and to share some of the feedback we’ve received.

From a personal point of view, yesterday was utterly incredible. I couldn’t be more proud of everyone who was a part of it, and I hope beyond hope that everyone is incredibly proud of themselves and what they achieved too. There were several moments, throughout the day, when I just couldn’t contain myself, and was either leaping up and down and giggling like an idiot, or so overwhelmed with emotion that I stopped conducting and just let the sound wash over me. So many things came together to cause those emotions – sometimes it was the relief when things that had been planned for so long finally came together, sometimes it was delight at how well the marriage of music and images, text and light all created something greater than the sum of its parts – but mostly, it was feeling that human connection with the emotions being felt by the 200+ people on stage. When we all pull together to create something, when we overcome difficulties to achieve a goal we’ve all been striving for – it all just feels so much more worthwhile. It was a joy to share it all with everyone, and I’m humbled by the dedication, support, professionalism and exuberance of this incredible choir. I truly feel that it’s a privilege to work with BeVox – I get such a buzz from it.

Toni and I have long believed that the most important thing we can do in life is to create special memories, for as many people as possible. It’s something we aim for personally as well as professionally – for instance, we don’t give each other gifts for our birthdays, we take each other to special places and share experiences instead, as we know these experiences will create memories that will last a lifetime. We still regularly reminisce about what we did for each other’s birthdays a decade ago! We think that this is a fundamental part of what we do with BeVox too – it should be about creating memories together, memories that we can treasure in the years to come. Elemental will live in people’s memories for a very long time, and that is a really special thing.

We’ve already had lots of feedback, both from audience members and from singers (and from some singers who were in the audience!), and it seems that the overwhelming response has been that this was a highly ambitious event, delivered at the highest level. Whilst Toni and I are very proud of our part in that (and we are truly thankful to all the people who have made comments about the work we put it), this was a team effort. No matter how impressive the videos, lighting, staging etc was, no matter how wildly I waved my arms, it wouldn’t have meant anything without the voices and passion of everyone on stage. Because of how technical the show was, it would have been easy to get hung up on the technicalities, and delivered a show that was impressive but that lacked heart. I don’t think anyone could say that Elemental lacked heart – it was dripping with emotion, and that came from the singers. I’d like to thank each and every one of them.

Whenever this whole project has felt too hard, whenever we’ve been struggling with the workload or the various challenges that arose (many of which were “behind the scenes” and no-one in the choir knows anything about), we’ve been sustained by a simple truth. We think of the singers of BeVox, and we know that they are sailing right behind us. Thank you.

It’s not a mystery any more!

Yesterday was our Musical Mystery Tour – and what a day it was! Toni and I had been so excited (and nervous!) about the plans we’d made, and it was simply incredible to be there and see them all becoming real. It was a truly special day, in so many ways.

Overview

Here’s a quick breakdown of what actually happened:

  • Two different coaches picked up our guests from four different locations, and took different routes to our first destination – the Seacombe ferry terminal on the Wirral side of the Mersey
  • Everyone boarded the ferry and had a guided tour of the Mersey, ending at Pier Head ferry terminal in Liverpool
  • We sang “Ferry cross the Mersey” to a very appreciative crowd right outside the ferry terminal
  • We walked to Liverpool ONE shopping centre, where we had lunch
  • At the end of the lunch break, another choir did a flash mob – but then it turned into “Magical Mystery Tour” and we all joined in
  • We went to Liverpool Metropolitan Catholic Cathedral and sang a full concert to a good-sized local audience, with some of the Liverpudlian singers from the flash mob earlier joining the choir
  • We had a celebratory themed banquet in the Lutyens Crypt beneath the cathedral

Trust

Something Toni and I keep coming back to whenever we think about the trip is how much faith everyone had in us. When we first came up with the idea for the trip (inspired by a throwaway comment by my mum), we knew it was a really big ask – we were asking people to trust us to give them a day to remember, without knowing any of the details beforehand – and to pay for the privilege too! No-one will truly know just what an effect it has had on Toni and I, seeing over a hundred people display that level of trust in us. We’ll never take it for granted, and we’re forever grateful for it.

Family

People often refer to BeVox as their “singing family”. I think this is true of most community singing groups – the bonds formed when people sing together are so strong, and BeVox is no exception. We love to include as many people as we can in our BeVox family, in lots of different ways, and the Mystery Tour certainly did that. We had our singers, from all the different areas we work in, and the friendships and camaraderie between them were a joy to behold, yet again. One of the things we love about our events is that we normally have singers from at least two, if not all three of our different geographical areas, and it’s great to see old friendships being renewed – people who only see each other at the end of each season asking after each other and sharing stories of what has happened in their lives since the last “big concert”.

For the Mystery Tour, we also had a number of guests – friends or family members of our singers, who were coming along for the ride, and to be our audience whenever we sang. We love spending time with the people who like to come and watch us perform – they are as much a part of the choir as those who sing, and everything we do relies on them being there to listen just as much as the singers being there to sing.

BeVox has family at its heart – in its most basic form, it’s run by the family that is Toni and me. My parents are massive supporters of the choir, as many of you know, and having them along as part of the Mystery Tour was very special. We included a bit more of my family too – the catering for our celebratory banquet at the end of the day was provided by Gravy & Custard, the catering firm run by my brother Dan and his partner Sam. I was thrilled to be able to work with them, and I know it made our parents very proud indeed.

We extended the BeVox singing spirit out to a wider family with this event too. We wanted the day to be full of surprises, and one of the most surprising things we can do as a choir is to do a flash mob. We thought about how we could integrate a flash mob into the day without giving anything away to our singers – and hit upon the idea of having ANOTHER choir do a flash mob, with our singers as the unsuspecting audience! So, over the last few months, we advertised and recruited singers from other choirs across Liverpool, and gave them the chance to form a “scratch choir” especially to join us for the Mystery Tour. We put together a “Liverpool medley”, consisting of songs made famous by artists from Liverpool, and rehearsed it in secret, before surprising the BeVox singers with a flash mob just as they were finishing lunch. Of course, we couldn’t resist the opportunity of getting the BeVox singers to join in with the flash mob, so the final song in the medley was our arrangement of “Magical Mystery Tour” – everyone entered into the spirit and joined in, essentially doing a flash mob without realising they were going to do one!

We were thrilled that the Liverpool singers wanted to play as big a part in the event as they could, so a significant number of them learnt our whole summer programme (in just two rehearsals!), and joined us for our big concert that afternoon – singing in the incredible setting of Liverpool Metropolitan Catholic Cathedral. The sound of 145 voices singing in that incredible building will stay with me for a very, very long time.

Charity

We thought it would be a great shame to put on a concert at the Cathedral and not use it as an opportunity to help support charitable causes in Liverpool, so we reached out to some Liverpudlian friends of ours to find out which charities would be dear to the hearts of a local audience. We then collected donations as part of our concert in the cathedral – and many of our singers generously donated too. As a result, we’ve raised £1,030, which we’ll split equally between Alder Hey Children’s Hospital, and Sunflowers, a charity supporting cancer patients in Merseyside.

Feedback

Comments we’ve had from people who took part in the Mystery Tour have been overwhelming. Below are a few quotes to give you a flavour of how much fun we all had:

“What an amazing day yesterday in Liverpool. Huge thanks to BeVox for a fantastic experience being part of the flash mob and the scratch choir at the concert at the Metropolitan Cathedral. Everyone made us so welcome. Great experience and can’t wait to do it again.” – Julie, Liverpool singer

“What a wonderful day. A massive thank you to Tim and Toni for organising the whole day. A massive thank you to all the Liverpool singers who made our day so brilliant. Thank you, thank you!” – Anne, BeVox singer

“Thank you so much for a brilliant musical mystery tour. It was a fabulous day and your imagination, organisation and attention to detail was amazing and made the day so very special. The fantastic performance venue came as a complete surprise and certainly brought the ‘magical’ into the mystery tour. The impromptu flash mob was another highlight and as for the banquet, it was fantastic in terms of both the venue and the food.” – Sue, BeVox singer

“Just wanted to say a great big thank you to you both for such an amazing day yesterday! It was an experience I wouldn’t have missed for the world.  The flash mob was such fun and we were so lucky with the weather! Singing in the cathedral was a wonderful experience especially with so many great voices. It was very emotional. The banquet was a splendid way to round the whole day off. The food was absolutely delicious. It was lovely sitting and chatting to members of your choirs and sharing our musical stories!” – Gill, Liverpool singer

“Thank you so much for an unforgettable day in Liverpool yesterday. Fantastic surprises – much hilarity as usual – I had a wonderful time. Thank you for providing me with some opportunities and experiences I couldn’t have imagined having.” – Jill, BeVox singer

“It was a really phenomenal day, can’t remember when I last had a day that made so many memories! Every second was a joy; being flash-mobbed and  working with local singers was a master stroke – a real surprise in a day of surprises- even the weather knew it had to do its bit!!! As for singing in the cathedral- well, words fail me. To sing there was absolutely awesome, so special – goosebumps and even feeling a little bit tearful! The banquet was glorious- Dan’s food was absolutely delicious, and our table comprised entertaining and interesting new friends.  We had a ball!” – Lyn, BeVox singer

Videos

I’m collecting together as many videos of the various bits of the day as I can find and putting them all into one playlist on the BeVox YouTube channel. There are various other videos on Facebook, but they aren’t always publicly available – below is a link to everything I’ve currently found and have access to. I’ll continue to update this as I find more videos out there!

Musical Mystery Tour playlist

And finally…

As a number of people have commented, it took a lot of work and organisation to make a day like yesterday run so smoothly. Toni and I are both done in – but it was so worth it! We do love creating unique and unusual events – and we’re looking forward to our next one already…

Looking back on Spring 2018

We’ve done virtually all of our Spring concerts now – our big “Sounds of the Sixties” event in Sheffield last Saturday, and our end of season concerts in Lincoln on Monday and Nottingham on Wednesday. We still have Hilton Grange coming up, but I thought now was a good time to look back on the season, and the concerts, and reflect.

The season, especially the end

We’ve had an amount of disruption this season, for one reason or another – different venues, the “Beast from the East” etc. Another choir has started in Nottingham, which has attracted a number of people who have previously sung with us, and this (along with the ongoing parking problems at our venue) has led to quite a fall in numbers – which in turn has worried those people who are still singing with us.

I’d just like to say – don’t worry! BeVox is an incredible community, and all of the things that could have brought us down this season have instead only served to make us stronger. The lower numbers in Nottingham haven’t meant that the group has weakened – those people who have been with us this season have raised their game, and the sound has been fantastic. (Oh, and by the way, we’d just like to make it clear that we’re happy for the people who have joined other choirs – we’ve always said that what we really care about is that people are singing, rather than who they’re singing with. It’s important that people sing with a choir that is right for them, and if people have tried another choir and found it suits them better than us, for whatever reason, that’s good – we’re pleased they’re happy! If it doesn’t work out in their new choir, for whatever reason, they’d be welcome back with us too – we wouldn’t want anyone thinking we had any kind of problem with people who have sung with another choir.)

The atmosphere in the sessions during the last week of the season was electric. The problems caused by the snow just spurred people on to give it their all, and I was blown away by the energy and vibrancy of the sound. It was huge fun, and I felt privileged to be a part of it.

Sounds of the Sixties

The big concert at The Octagon was an exhilarating experience. The revised schedule made it a very long day – after I started sound-checking with the band at 10:30am, the next chance I got for a break wasn’t until 6:30pm – I didn’t even get to nip to the loo! All the hard work was made so completely worthwhile by the concert itself though – it was such a buzz. There were some real spine-tingling moments, and a real sense of fun too. Some audience members filmed a few bits, so look out for them on YouTube – “Whiter shade of pale” in particular was fantastically good. Dylan, the drummer from The Magic Mushrooms (and my best mate), did a “behind the scenes” vlog too, which is also on YouTube – a good giggle!

Bravo to everyone who made the show such fun. Remember – I only wave my arms around – it’s the singers who make the sound, so hats off to every one of you. I hope you’re suitably proud of yourselves.

Lincoln end of season concert

Monday saw us in Lincoln for another blast through this season’s music – a near-capacity crowd was thoroughly entertained by the nearly-hundred-strong choir. The reaction during the interval and afterwards was fantastic – a number of people told me it was the best Lincoln end of season concert we’ve done.

Nottingham end of season concert

We were in a new venue for Wednesday’s event, and we had some very positive comments about it – despite the heating being stuck on! It was so warm, Toni even took her jumper off!! We’ll be certain that they’ve fixed that before we return in the summer. The concert itself went very well indeed – I know a few people were concerned about the voice part balance, but actually it worked very well, and people were very sensitive in their singing as they compensated for the slightly uneven number in each part.

A note on dress code

At the end of season concerts, we did notice quite a number of people who weren’t quite within the spirit of the BeVox dress code – tops that were more turquoise than blue, or had significant amounts of white trim etc. We have a dress code so that we present a unified look to our audiences. We want everyone to feel like they’re on the same team – but still give enough latitude within the dress code for people to be comfortable with what they’re wearing. We’d like to ask all our singers to remind themselves of our dress code (www.bevox.co.uk/dresscode), and to stick to it for future events.

The future

We’re putting the finishing touches to the learning materials for next season’s music, and we’re also hard at work on several other events spread across the rest of this year (and into 2019). We’ll be posting more about some of these soon – especially our “Summer singing day” on 18th August, which will be open to all singers, not just members of BeVox. Watch this space for more info!

That was the night – actually, several of them!

We’ve had three absolutely fantastic concerts in the last week. On Wednesday, the first concert of the season was Lincoln’s end of season at the EPIC Centre, Lincolnshire Showground. I think the event lived up to the venue’s name! It was great to share this music with an audience – and what an audience! A very appreciative crowd indeed – over 220 of them – and they seemed to thoroughly enjoy the whole show. We had some fantastic comments from people afterwards, and it was clear that everyone on stage had had a blast too.

The next day we were up in Sheffield for the end of season concert at The Springs Academy, where we’d sold out of tickets a week before the show. The atmosphere was electric, the singing was superb, and the camaraderie between the singers as evident as ever.

Then it was “Tonight’s The Night” – our big concert for this season, at Nottingham’s Albert Hall. What a night that turned out to be! I genuinely believe it’s one of the best concerts we’ve done. Everyone on stage gave their all, and it resulted in a really inspiring performance. I think we went through pretty much every emotion – the fun of “Pack up” to the passion of “All of me”, the desolation of “Mad world” to the rollercoaster that is the “Jesus Christ Superstar medley”. And of course we brought the sounds of Africa to Nottingham with a phenomenal rendition of “Africa”.

The whole day was an absolute joy for me. What can I say – I love working with you all! The relationship between a conductor and a choir is a special one, and I felt overwhelmed by the closeness of that relationship on Saturday. I received a lovely piece of feedback from an audience member on Sunday, which I’ve reproduced below (with permission):

There’s a clear passionate connection between Tim and his choir. It can be seen in the energy that flows between the two. It’s not a conductor with a group of singers, it’s people sharing a passion together. A deep love of music that reveals itself in the performance. The group makes you feel part of them as the music fills your soul. Well worth travelling to wherever they are singing!

We had our erstwhile unofficial videographer in the audience again (Tony Evans, the husband of one of our sopranos), so if you want to see how any of it looked, check out his YouTube channel here.

Dylan, my good friend and long-time musical collaborator, recorded the show from the sound desk, so we’ll be looking at whether we can make any of that available to people too.

That’s not the end of this run of concerts – we’re closing the Inner Wheel’s annual conference at the Royal Concert Hall in Nottingham on Wednesday, then appearing in two charity fund-raising concerts on Friday and Saturday, organised by Doris Stubbs on behalf of the village of Rywanyana in Uganda on Friday, and by Sue Humphrey and Jane Trotman on behalf of Go Make A Difference Tanzania and The Brain Tumour Charity on Saturday. For full details, see our website.

We’re looking forward to getting back into sessions again at the end of April, and then we’ll be performing again in June and July. We’re also going to be recording our second CD in July, so watch this space for more details of how you can get a copy!

Onwards and upwards

It’s been a long time since I lasted posted a blog – too long! Here’s a quick update of what’s happening with the choir.

Our Spring season, running January to April, went really well – lots of good singing, great concerts, and fun times had together. The concerts at the end of the season got fantastic comments from audience members, and a number of people who had never seen BeVox before spoke to us about just how impressive the whole experience was. We’ve got a number of new recruits for the Summer season – people who saw us perform and thought, “I want to be a part of that!”.

We also continued doing events that support various different charities, and as a result of this work, the total amount that we’ve helped to raise since we started has now exceeded £55,000 – something we’re very proud of.

We got off to a slightly bumpy start to the Summer season in Lincoln, as we were stranded on the A1 and couldn’t make it down for the first session of the season – we’re really looking forward to getting things kicked off properly in Lincoln next week. Everywhere else, it was great to be back together and making a joyous noise. The music for this season is such fun to sing, and it was sounding pretty fantastic after just one session – I can’t wait to hear what it sounds like at the end of the season!

Our “big concert” this season is “The BeVox Show”, at Leeds Town Hall, on Sunday 24th July – 4pm. Tickets are on sale already, from the Leeds Town Hall box office – you can get them by calling 0113 376 0318, or you can book online at www.leeds.gov.uk/townhall

We’re launching a new initiative this month – BeVox Evolution. This is a chance for us to raise the musical standards of the choir still further, by offering additional training to those who want it and are ready for it. You can find out more about this at www.bevox.co.uk/evolution

We’re working on several really exciting projects for later in the year too – we’re very close to being able to announce the details of our big concert in December, and we have a number of other special events that are in the pipeline. We’ll release more information once everything is confirmed. Until then, take care, and have fun!

Happy New Year 2016

Happy New Year!

2015 was a big year for us, in many ways. BeVox celebrated its fifth birthday, which felt like a real milestone. We recorded our first ever CD, and had our busiest year ever when it comes to number of performances, and number of singers singing with us. We helped to raise nearly £12,000 for charity in 2015, taking the total we’ve helped to raise since we started to over £42,000. And amongst all that, we managed to squeeze a wedding in too!

The New Year is a time for looking forward as well as looking back, and we have lots to look forward to. We have a number of big concerts planned for 2016, as well as continuing our smaller, community-based events too. The bigger events include “Let us entertain you”, our first big concert in Lincoln, at the Lincoln Performing Arts Centre on Sunday 17th April. We’ve also got exciting plans for our big concert for the summer in Wakefield, which will see us at a new venue (for us) – more details will be available soon. We’re exploring a couple of different options for our 2016 Christmas concert too (yes, we’re thinking about next Christmas already!) – one of those options would be absolutely jaw-dropping if we can pull it off, so we’re working hard to make it happen if we can.

On top of the usual run of events, we have some other plans for 2016 too. Not all of these are ready to be revealed yet, as we’d always rather wait until things are definite before announcing them. I will mention though that we have ideas for some exciting workshops this summer, and a brand new initiative that will really raise our standards – without changing our open-to-anyone ethos. We’re also planning to develop our relationships with other leading musicians, which could open some very interesting doors…

2016 feels like a year of possibilities – a year in which change is inevitable. That sounds rather exciting to me, and I can’t wait to get started!

BeVox Rocks

What a night! Huge congratulations to everyone who helped make “BeVox Rocks” such a sensational event, and a huge “thank you” to everyone who came to support.

The crew from Sound & Light UK worked tirelessly to create a spectacular setting, and I have such respect for their professionalism and commitment. They worked until 10pm on Friday on the initial load-in, then were back at 7am to rig – they worked throughout the day and evening, and they were still working on the de-rig when I left at 11pm. Seriously hard-working – hats off to them! I know that there were parts of the auditorium where the balance wasn’t ideal, with the band being louder than the choir, but I also know that in other parts the balance was great – and the challenges of balancing a choir with a rock band, in a venue with an unusual shape and difficult acoustics, was always going to be a tough one. They did a great job under difficult circumstances, and it’s also been a learning curve for us, so we know what to do to ensure the balance is just right next time.

The band did an awesome job – stepping out of the comfort zone of their usual gigs to take on the challenge of learning someone else’s arrangements, sometimes in different keys to the versions they already knew – it took some doing, and they blew me away on the night. A special “thank you” to Andy for stepping in at the last minute to save the day on keyboards – no-one would have guessed that he was actually sight-reading a couple of the pieces during the concert! And as always, the greatest of “thank you”s to my best mate Dylan – another musical adventure we’ve been on together, and it’s always so reassuring to have you at my side.

All the soloists did amazing work. Clare and Louise were the ultimate precise 80s duet (aided and abetted by 200 pairs of arms behind them!). Lis took a few people by surprise when her beautiful ballad kicked into a full-on rock number. Wendy injected a welcome dose of fun and humour into her song, entertaining the crowd marvellously. That random bloke who kicked off the second half tells me he enjoyed himself immensely! Dominic had the audience bouncing up and down with his rock histrionics. Toni found enough voice to sing her song despite not being able to speak all day – and then performed the arse off it! And of course Rachel had the whole audience rocking out like crazy. Each of them should feel incredibly proud of their performance.

What we’re really about is the choir, of course – and what a choir it was last night. First and foremost, we had a huge amount of fun together. That’s always the most important thing for me. Before I even get to the singing, I have to say a heartfelt “thank you” to you all for so many other things. The camaraderie backstage (and on stage!) was phenomenal. The way that you all looked out for each other, supporting those who needed it and celebrating with everyone, absolutely exemplifies what we’re about. Thank you for being a true community, where the people come first and the music comes (a very close) second!

I loved how we looked as a choir last night! Not only had people really embraced the spirit of the event in their outfits, make-up and hair-dos (some of which were utterly incredible – I saw a number of people in a whole new light!) – the level of animation was the best we’ve ever achieved. We’re often told by audience members that we look like we’re having lots of fun on stage, but I think last night took that to a whole new level. The energy and enthusiasm was great, and it was infectious – it’s not often people go to a choral concert and end up dancing in the aisles! Some videos from audience members have already been uploaded to YouTube (check our “Favourites” list on our YouTube channel – www.youtube.com/bevoxuk), and we’ll be posting pictures from the event to our Flickr page over the coming days (www.flickr.com/bevoxchoir).

And then there was the singing. Boy oh boy, was there the singing! From the opening electrifying sound of the sopranos and altos’ “Ah” in You took the words right out of my mouth all the way through to the climactic closing vocal explosions at the end of the Stadium Rock medley, the singing was superb. I loved the way we were able to shape the sound, and take the audience on a journey – not just an out-and-out blast from end to end, but bringing subtlety to things like Mad worldTrue colours and Who wants to live forever?. Even in the rockier numbers there were contrasts, and that’s a testament to you really caring about the music – it’s not just about making the right sounds, it’s about infusing them with the right emotions too.

I have to say, I had an absolute blast. BeVox well and truly rocks. It’s been my dream since we started the choir five years ago to do a gig with a proper rock band, and we absolutely nailed that last night. It was an absolute pleasure and honour to share the stage with you all.

Onwards and upwards – we have a few more concerts still to come with our Spring programme, but of course we also launch into our celebratory “Best of BeVox” season in just over a week’s time. We can’t wait to share another incredible journey with you all. We have some further plans in the pipeline for events at the end of the summer season, and of course we’re desperately excited about our CD recording weekend in Scarborough. We’re also continuing to make plans further and further ahead – jobs this week include selecting the songs for the Autumn season (including the programme for our “One Night at the Albert” concert at Nottingham’s Albert Hall on 20th December), and a meeting to discuss the first tentative plans for another Summer Singing Retreat…

See you soon!

BeVox Rocks information released

We’ve just published a page of information about our forthcoming “BeVox Rocks” concert. Online tickets are available now, but physical tickets won’t be available to buy from us directly until mid-February. If you know someone in the choir, we’d recommend waiting until the physical tickets are ready and buying directly from them, as then there are no processing fees. If you don’t know anyone in the choir, or can’t wait until the physical tickets go on sale, you can get them online now.

Here’s all the info:

www.bevox.co.uk/bevoxrocks

Christmas concerts a-plenty!

What a fortnight it has been! We’ve done 14 performances in the last fortnight – everything from charity events to full-on concerts, from small-scale performances with a couple of dozen singers to the magnificent sound of over 125 voices at Wakefield Cathedral last night. I want to say a little something about each of them, but that would mean going on for even longer than I usually do, so I’ll just pick out the highlights.

Lincolnshire Food & Gift Fair, 30th November

This was the first time that any of our Lincoln singers had performed with us, and so there was lots of excitement and nerves before we started. After the incredible experience we’d had at our final session of the season, I was full of confidence that we’d put on a great show, and we certainly did. The feedback from everyone was fantastic – members of the public, stallholders, and the events team at the Showground all said how much they’d enjoyed our singing, and it was really clear from conversations with the singers how much they’d enjoyed themselves too. It was a really strong debut performance!

Parkinsons UK Sheffield Christmas lunch, 2nd December

Under slightly challenging circumstances, we brought lots of fun and enjoyment into the lives of some very special people. We didn’t have an ideal blend of voice parts, we weren’t in the best of acoustics and we weren’t laid out in the most useful way, but despite these challenges we still did a really good show – thank you to everyone to took part, for pushing yourselves to achieve great things.

Kimberworth Christmas Concert, 6th December

I have to confess that I’d been looking forward to this concert especially, as my Mum and Dad were coming up from Reading for the weekend to see this concert and our appearances at the Lincoln Christmas Market the following day. They normally come up to see our big concert if they can, but this season they weren’t able to make it as they’ve joined a choir themselves, and their big concert was on the same day as ours! We just about squeezed everyone on stage, and I had some fun juggling the conducting, piano-playing and operating the mixing desk. The singing was really strong, and we put on a show to be proud of. Feedback from the audience afterwards was overwhelmingly positive, and we were immediately invited back by the organisers for another concert in the summer.

West Bridgford Methodist Church Christmas Tree Festival, 9th December

We arrived at the church to find it surrounded by the most beautifully decorated Christmas trees – it was a real treat to be singing in such festive surroundings. It was lovely to be able to do a performance here, after having to move our end-of-season performance elsewhere – it’s such a great venue to sing in, and all the singers threw themselves into it with gusto. Again, we had utterly lovely comments from the audience afterwards, and we may have gained a few new singers for next season too!

“Christmas at the Cathedral”, 13th December

I was nervous about our big concert this season. I wasn’t worried about the singing – I’d heard such great singing in the lead-up to the concert that I knew we’d make a great sound. It was all the other bits that make up concert day that worried me – setting up the audio equipment, getting everyone onto and off the stage safely, getting the audience into the venue smoothly etc. I love that we are involved in every single aspect of our concerts, as it means we can be sure that everything is done in a very “BeVox” way – and the BeVox philosophy was right at the core of yesterday’s show, with lots of people stepping up to the plate to help each other out, and to be there for each other. I felt very proud of this choir.

And then we started to sing… and oh boy was that good! Everyone gave it their all, and the result was something to be incredibly proud of. My uncle and grandma were in the audience, and they were blown away by the whole experience – they wanted me to pass on their heartfelt appreciation to every one of our singers for giving them a really memorable night. Another old friend was in the audience too – an accomplished choral director who I’ve worked with several years ago, and who I’ll be working with again next year, and he was full of praise for the choir – he’d been looking forward to hearing BeVox for months, and he said it was well worth the wait.

There were several of our singers in the audience too, a number of whom had never seen a BeVox concert from the audience side before. They had some really useful and constructive feedback for me too, which chimes with observations I’ve made myself throughout the performances this season. Every one of them was really impressed with the sound we make, and a number said that even though they knew what was coming next, as they’d learnt all the music themselves, it still exceeded their expectations. They also had a few suggestions for things we could do to raise our game still further for future events, and we’ll be looking at ways to incorporate this feedback into our performances for next season. For now though, all I can say is that I am inordinately proud of the show we put on last night, and of the incredible atmosphere that all our singers created, both on stage and backstage. Thank you for being a part of our journey.

Onwards…

That’s not the end of our performances for this season – we still have plenty more to come between now and Christmas. I did want to let everyone know something else that we can be really proud of though. With the performances that we’ve done for charity over the last few weeks, we’ve taken the total amount that BeVox has helped to raise for charities since we started to just the tiniest fraction under £30,000. Now that’s something to celebrate…