An incredible week

This has been one of the most incredible weeks of my life. Last Tuesday, we did our first public performance of the season, singing in Nottingham’s Victoria Centre. We then had two more lunchtime concerts on the Wednesday and Thursday, in Sheffield’s Winter Garden. Thursday night saw the dress rehearsal for BeVox@Magna, then Saturday was the legendary Magna concert itself – and the best after-party I’ve ever been to. No rest for the wicked – Monday was the first of our “Real Variety Performance” concerts, in Wakefield, with each following night seeing another, in Nottingham, Barnsley and Sheffield. We also went back to the Victoria Centre in Nottingham this Tuesday for another lunchtime concert.

Over the course of the last week and a half, we’ve raised over £2,100 for four different charities – £289.63 for Wakefield Hospice, £646.93 for Treetops Hospice in Nottingham,£264.06 for Lost Chord in Barnsley, and £899.58 for St Luke’s Hospice in Sheffield.

We’ve performed alongside a great mixtures of other acts in the “Real Variety Performance” concerts – Stagecoach Theatre Arts, musical theatre singer Anita Adams, international storyteller Kevin Walker, girl band Finesse, ballet dancer Rebecca Ladds, teller of tales Oscar Morrey, the Quercus Minor Barbershop Quartet, Arabesque Dance Academy, the Hope Community Gospel Choir, Saxophone Sunday, classical tenor Melvyn White, Nycha Dance Creations, classical soprano Sheila Rothman, pop singer Daniel Shirazi-Nejad, and local folk singer/guitarist Ian Price. Our audiences have also been entertained during the intervals and before the shows by magicians Marcel Burns & friend, and Andy Ware, and by UK Yo-Yo Champion David Braden Holmes (only 10 years old!). We’ve been lucky enough to have some great hosts too – David Hartill in Wakefield and Barnsley, Rebecca Ladds and Oscar Morrey in Nottingham, and Rev Jonathan Haigh in Sheffield. A most sincere thank you to each of you for donating your time so generously.

Events like “A Real Variety Performance” don’t organise themselves. We’d like to extend our very heartfelt and genuine thanks to the people who have enabled these events to take place. These people have done incredible work behind the scenes, and we quite simply couldn’t have done it without them – take a bow, Margaret Burrell, Katie Chamberlin, Paul Howard, Kate Caulfield, David and Alison Pridmore, Louise Lewus, Ann Hallam, Roz Bexon, Lynda Simms, Jackie Wilson, Margaret Wilson, Sally Kirkham, Denise Duckworth, Pete Wood, Martin Clarke, and Pauline Firth.

We have a couple of events left this season – the Concert for Gus on Sunday, and Pinderfields Hospital on Monday. We’re also singing at the Lowedges Festival in August, which should be really exciting. As a result of some of the performances we’ve done this season, we’re already receiving some amazing invitations to perform elsewhere – we’re working through these over the next week or so, and we’ll have some exciting announcements to make very soon.

Thank you to everyone who’s been a part of BeVox in any way over the last 9 months. It’s been an incredible journey, and we’re very excited about what the future has to offer. Bring it on!

BeVox@Magna

What a truly extraordinary experience. Thank you to everyone who contributed to make this event such a unique and incredible one. It was truly a fitting celebration of our first year together – amazing music, stunning performances, an incredible venue – and a rocking party! Every single person on that stage should be very proud of their achievements – you put on an awesome show. Special thanks to Neil Roberts, for his stalwart support backstage, Pauline Firth, for making the whole day run so smoothly, the team at Magna, the tech team at Transmitta, and the rock legends also known as Tragical History Tour. Thank you all!

Awesome night

I’m writing this at half past five on Friday morning, having not yet gone to bed after our dress rehearsal for BeVox@Magna on Thursday night. What a night! Every single person who has had anything to do with making this event such a success should be very proud of themselves – that was quite simply the best rehearsal I have ever had for any production, ever! The energy, concentration, disclipine and sheer joy were amazing to witness, and the end result was a sound that had me fighting for breath in places. The shows on Saturday are going to be a landmark in the history of BeVox.

Steaming ahead

We have just a fortnight to go until the first “Real Variety Performance”, and everything is falling into place to make these concerts really great. Thanks to everyone who is donating their time and expertise – it’s a real testement to what people can achieve for a good cause.

Less than a fortnight to go until BeVox@Magna too. Things are coming together in a really exciting way for this – I have a little leap of excitement every time I hear a newly finished backing track or see a completed video. All we have to do now is develop more of an audience – ticket sales are only growing slowly, so we’re doing a big push this week. We have an ad in the Sheffield Star later in the week, and we’re encouraging everyone to spread the word. It’s truly going to be an amazing event. I hope you’re not one of the people who will hear about it afterwards and think “I wish I had been there”!

After a very positive meeting this morning, I’m proud to say that BeVox will be taking part in Alight – part of Music Nation, a Countdown event for the London 2012 Festival, the finale of the Cultural Olympiad. I’m still working on the various different events we’ll be bringing to Alight, so watch out for more details nearer the time; but for now, save the date! We’ll be performing at various events throughout the day on Saturday 3rd March 2012. I can’t wait!

How many hours in a day?

However many there are, it’s not enough! The publicity machine is really getting into gear for our upcoming performances. BeVox@Magna posters have just arrived (oh my good grief, did I really order 2 A0 ones? Yes I did!). The Magna event has also had a boost from a podcast by Magna themselves – you can listen by clicking here, then selecting “MAGNACAST – JUNE 2011 (EVENTS)”. We’re about six and a half minutes in.

We’re also putting the final touches to our series of charity concerts – “A Real Variety Performance”. The list of guest artistes is growing all the time, and includes acts as diverse as string quartets, street dancers, gospel choirs, classical sopranos, folk guitarists and girl bands!

We’re making a few changes to how BeVox is run, starting in our Autumn season. We’re offering more sessions, and our free taster sessions are now available throughout the season. If you’re thinking of joining us, please get in touch to find out how the changes affect you.

Finally, a big thank-you to all the singers who came to help celebrate Denise Kelly’s wedding with us. She was absolutely thrilled with our performance, and I was very proud to stand in front of you all – you sounded amazing. Thank you for your patience, and for helping to make Dee’s day even more “perfect”.

All systems go

I can’t believe it’s nearly a month since I last posted here. It’s been such a busy time, getting everything ready for our end-of-season performances. Our weekend session to learn the extra music for BeVox@Magna was great fun, and I’m really excited about how it’s all coming together. I’ve just approved the drafts for the posters, which should be available in a week or so, and I was at Magna at the weekend recording an interview to promote the show. Ticket sales are growing steadily, and I had a really productive meeting with the sound and lighting designers. The band have agreed to play two live sets at the party afterwards, so we should be partying well into the night!

We’ve also been making great progress on our series of charity concerts. These run every night from Monday 18th to Thursday 21st July – Wakefield on Monday, Nottingham on Tuesday, Barnsley on Wednesday and Sheffield on Thursday. The line-up of other acts who are appearing is growing every day. The Nottingham event is now completely finalised – see the excellent poster (designed by a local designer who donated his time for free – thanks Marcus!) by clicking this link. We’re working on the other three and should have line-ups confirmed very soon.

I’ve got a series of meetings over the next week or so, discussing some really exciting events for the future. Nothing is confirmed yet, but plans are afoot for a fun large-scale event in September (hopefully partnering with some other choirs again), and a series of concerts and other performances as part of Sheffield’s Cultural Olympiad in March. Watch this space…

BeVox@Magna soloists cast

We’ve (nearly) finished casting the soloists for our BeVox@Magna concert on 16th July.  We’re very excited about hearing these performances come together with the rest of the choir music between now and July.

The weekly sessions are going really well, with some great singing coming from all groups after just a few short weeks. It’s great to see people from every group supporting each other, and a number of singers have visited the other groups to lend a hand and see how different each one is. Barnsley is getting off the group very well indeed – still small, but making great progress. Wakefield has more than doubled in size since last season, and is continuing to grow. Sheffield and Nottingham are both doing really well too, making a great sound and proving just how much fun it is to sing together!

We’ve nearly finished confirming our other performances for the Summer season – we’re just waiting to dot a few final Is and cross a few final Ts. We’ve got a nice variety again this season, and several invitations to take part in other exciting events.

Fun for all the family

It’s been a busy time for BeVox over the last few weeks. All four groups are thriving, with Barnsley taking off slowly but surely (thanks to a little help from guests from our other areas), Wakefield growing to over twice its previous size, and Sheffield and Nottingham continuing to be strong. We’ve sung at a fun day for The Cadland pub in Nottingham – an event that raised over £1,500 for “Help for Heroes”, and at the “Party in the Yard” for DIVA Wakefield, celebrating the opening of the new custom-built art gallery The Hepworth.

We also had our BeVox@Magna Singposium on Saturday – a chance for singers to get together, share their performances and collectively make suggestions for who should sing solos at our concert in July. It was a great day – lovely to see everyone being so supportive of their fellow singers. The decision-making process was so easy, thanks to the great feedback given by all participants, and everyone who took part has been sent an email letting them know who is singing what. That list will be shared here as soon as everyone has confirmed their acceptance of their part.

We’re finalising plans for all our Summer season performances this week, so look out for the “Come and listen” page in about a week’s time – it will have details of all the different opportunities you’ll have to come and hear BeVox in action! There is a real variety, which we’re thrilled about – that’s such a part of who we are.

Spontaneous Sing at St Pancras

On Saturday, BeVox joined with City Voices Cardiff for a Spontaneous Sing at St Pancras International station in London. Over 200 singers took part, and we entertained passengers, station staff, retailers and members of the public in four performances throughout the afternoon. It was great fun! There are several videos already available on YouTube, including our “official” one – visit www.youtube.com/bevoxuk to see them.

Simon Curtis, the director of City Voices Cardiff, was interviewed by Media Wales yesterday, and a small piece (admittedly with a Welsh bias!) appeared in the Wales on Sunday newspaper too. It has been great working with the CVC singers – they’re a great, friendly, talented bunch. Simon and I are looking into working together again in the future, so watch this space for more combined BeVox/CVC events!

We’re still welcoming more new singers for our Summer season, which kicked off with a bang in Sheffield on Thursday – loads of energy and enthusiasm, which was great to see and hear. Looking forward to Wakefield tonight, Nottingham tomorrow and Barnsley on Wednesday.