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…

First performances of the Christmas season

We’ve had great fun starting to share this season’s music with people this weekend. We launched the inaugural “Voices” choir festival on Saturday with a performance in Nottingham’s newest outdoor performance space, Trinity Square. It was great to start putting these songs in front of an audience, and we had a lovely reaction too. It was also marvellous to catch up with a few old friends in some of the other choirs that were performing – always lovely to see people enjoying singing together.
Sunday saw us kicking off the Sheffield Christmas light switch-on – and if I’m honest, this was an event I was both looking forward to and dreading in equal measure. Outdoor performances are always a challenge, and this one was fairly high profile – plus it was the first outing for our version of “I believe in Father Christmas”, which we’ve struggled with in the last few sessions. I needn’t have worried! A quick sing through backstage sounded really strong, and gave me hope that we’d put on a good show, and then the performance itself was excellent. The sound was fantastic, and we’ve had great feedback afterwards too – from audience members and the event organisers alike. It’s always a good sign when you’re asked back for next year’s event!
I’m in the studio most of tomorrow, recording the tenor and bass parts for next season’s music with Alastair. I’m doing the soprano and alto parts with Eloise on Thursday, so it will be a busy week, but I’m really looking forward to hearing this music sung for the first time. As soon as these recording sessions are done, we’re into the busiest bit of the season, with around 20 performances in just a few weeks. See you on the other side!

BeVox Rocks!

One of the things that I find really exciting about my job, even if it sometimes messes with my head a bit, is that we’re constantly working on things with very different timescales. I can go from answering a telephone call about tonight’s session, to recording a backing track for a concert in a month’s time, to writing the arrangements we’ll be singing in two month’s time, to planning a concert in six month’s time – all within a few minutes of each other. The last few weeks have been full of this, and it all seems to be coming together right now.

Over the weekend, I finished the last backing track for the Autumn series of concerts. I’m really excited about how everything is sounding for these performances, and the work we’ll do over the next couple of weeks to polish everything up will result in some stand-out shows, I’m sure.

I’m now working on writing the arrangements for next season – I’ve only got a fortnight until our session singers, Alastair and Eloise, come up to record their parts! The song list has been chosen from suggestions made by our singers, and you can read it here, along with the song lists from all our previous seasons.

We’ve also just finalised the details for our big event for the Spring season – and it’s going to be a whopper! “BeVox Rocks” will take place on Saturday 11th April 2015, at The Octagon in Sheffield. It will feature a programme of stadium rock classics, as well as some more unexpected material, and we’ll be singing alongside a live rock band! The arena-like layout at The Octagon is ideal for this kind of music, and we’re sure to put on one hell of a show!

The Octagon, Sheffield
The Octagon, Sheffield

Soloists for the Autumn season

It’s been a busy first half of the season, and I haven’t really had chance to write any blogs since we started. To be honest, I don’t really have the time now – I’m swamped with trying to get all of the backing tracks orchestrated and recorded before we hit concert time. I’m also trying to stick to my plan of getting next season’s music arranged and rehearsal tracks recorded by the end of this season (so I can actually have some kind of break between seasons, and particularly keen singers can start listening to their tracks before we start next season!). The recording sessions for next season’s rehearsal tracks are booked in, and the first one is early – 24th November – so I’ve got to get cracking!

We’re really excited about our plans for our 5th anniversary celebration next summer – we’re off to the seaside for a weekend, recording a CD and having a big party! Information packs and application forms are available for our singers now – check your email for where to find them.

We’re also making great strides ahead with plans for our big concert for Christmas. Tickets should be on sale early next week, and we’ll put an information page on the website with links to ticket sales as soon as they’re up.

We had our auditions for soloists this weekend, which were great fun. We heard some fantastic performances, and we’re thrilled to be able to include many of them in our concerts this season. Below is a list of all the soloists that are performing this season. We’re doing lots of concerts this Christmas that don’t feature soloists, so just the ones that do are listed below. If you want the full list of all the performances we’re doing, please check out the main BeVox website, under the “Performances – Forthcoming” menu.

Concert for TASTE – Monday 1st December

  • Sally Kirkham (TBC) – Take a walk through Bethlehem
  • Julie Currey – Mira
  • Toni Ratcliffe – A spaceman came travelling

End of season concert in Nottingham – Tuesday 2nd December

  • Ged Tinley – Mary’s boy child
  • Dominic Marshall – Hallelujah
  • Ann Hallam – What child is this?
  • Grete Evans – Jar of hearts
  • Solos in Christmas Medley – Ged Tinley, Ann Hallam, Paul Howard, Grete Evans

End of season concert in Sheffield – Thursday 4th December

  • Hugh Bland – The Christmas song
  • Julie Currey – Mira
  • Pete Dye – Have a holly jolly Christmas
  • Martin Clarke – Joseph’s lullaby
  • James Tringham – White wine in the sun
  • Heather Clarke – Christmas letter
  • Rachel Wood – Please come home for Christmas
  • Solos in Christmas Medley – Paul Howard, Anne O’Hara, Hugh Bland, Anne Seneviratne

Kimberworth Christmas concert – Saturday 6th December

  • Sally Kirkham – Take a walk through Bethlehem
  • Ensemble (Sally Kirkham, Anne Seneviratne, Heather Clarke, Denise Treece, Martin Clarke, James Tringham, Toni Ratcliffe) – Lead me Lord
  • Julie Currey – Mira
  • Martin Clarke – Joseph’s lullaby
  • Toni Ratcliffe – A spaceman came travelling
  • Heather Clarke – Christmas letter

West Bridgford Methodist Church Christmas Tree Festival – Tuesday 9th December

  • Ged Tinley – Mary’s boy child
  • Dominic Marshall – Hallelujah
  • Grete Evans – Jar of hearts
  • Chris Shaw – Summertime

Christmas at the Cathedral, Wakefield Cathedral – Saturday 13th December

  • Ged Tinley – Mary’s boy child
  • Sally Kirkham – Take a walk through Bethlehem
  • Ensemble (Sally Kirkham, Anne Seneviratne, Heather Clarke, Denise Treece, Martin Clarke, James Tringham, Toni Ratcliffe) – Lead me Lord
  • Martin Clarke – Joseph’s lullaby
  • Dominic Marshall – Hallelujah
  • Toni Ratcliffe – A spaceman came travelling
  • Heather Clarke – Christmas letter
  • Solos in Christmas Medley – Ged Tinley, Anne Seneviratne, Pauline Masheder, Anne O’Hara
  • Quartet in O Tannenbaum – Julie Currey, Susan Bridgeford, Timothy Allen, James Tringham)
  • Soprano soloist in Frozen Heart – Anne O’Hara

Things to look forward to

It’s been a busy summer for us so far, and we’ve only got two weeks to go until the next season starts. We can’t wait!

The end of the Summer season was really busy, with lots of performances in varied locations. We’d hoped that we’d then be able to put our feet up and relax for a bit, but life doesn’t work that way! Recording next season’s music early ended up being a very good plan, and we were very glad to get that out to everyone before the summer break really kicked off. We then got started on a number of plans, and we knew we’d only got a few weeks to sort them out.

Over the summer, we’ve got everything in place to launch our latest area, Lincoln. We’ll be bringing a number of singers over to the city to sing in some really iconic places throughout the weekend of 6th/7th September, then we have our big launch on 10th September. We’ve got adverts in lots of local press, and we’re really looking forward to getting Lincoln singing.

We’ve also been working on our big 5th anniversary celebration next summer, and it was great to be able to release those plans last week. We’re off for a weekend at the seaside, recording a CD and having a big party at the incredible Spa Centre in Scarborough.

Other things have taken up our time too, including a couple of short trips (we had a couple of days away to celebrate Toni’s birthday, and we’ve just got back from a week in Scotland). Toni has been working very hard on designing lots and lots of publicity material, and you’ll be seeing our adverts in newspapers and magazines across Yorkshire, Nottinghamshire, Derbyshire and Lincolnshire over the next few weeks. We’ve also been sorting out more performances for the Autumn season, and there are still more in the pipeline – we’ll release details as soon as they’re finalised. Finally, we’ve been working on our “Christmas at the Cathedral” – we have another meeting lined up in the next couple of weeks to get everything nailed down, then we should be able to put out all the information you’ll need. For now, just keep the date free – Saturday 13th December. We’ll have an amazing show for you!