BeVox at Buxton with Brass

Yesterday saw us give two performances in the magnificent Devonshire Dome in Buxton, raising funds for the Derbyshire, Leicestershire and Rutland Air Ambulance. I’m hoping to be able to announce the total raised tomorrow, so watch this space. It was a truly incredible (and very tiring!) day – with a tech run, matinee, pre-show supper, VIP dinner, evening performance and after-party all crammed in! I’ll be writing more fully to everyone involved in the next few days, but I just wanted to say publically here – thank you. Your energy, dedication, passion and talent made the concerts into resounding successes – every single person on that stage gave their all, and we thrilled the audiences thoroughly. The feedback I’ve heard from people in attendance has been overwhelmingly positive – you did yourselves proud. Thank you.

First Autumn season performance

It was our first performance of the Autumn season today – the switch-on of the Christmas lights in West Bridgford. I have to confess that I wasn’t looking forward to it on the drive down – heavy fog and torrential rain aren’t good for outdoor concerts! The fog had cleared by the time we arrived, but the rain was still persisting, and I wasn’t sure whether it would dampen the spirits of the singers or the audience. I was also worried because whenever we’ve sung for the West Bridgford Christmas lights before, I’ve had the singers on stage (under cover), but the piano out front, exposed to the elements, and that wasn’t going to be an option today!

I needn’t have worried. We had a great reception from the crowd, and as we were on straight after the lights and firework display, there were plenty of people still around. And as for the singing – I felt everyone really raised their game today, and put on a truly great show. The energy was there, the more complex harmonies were there, there was generally a good balance between parts, and lots of people were singing from memory too – really encouraging. Thank you to everyone who took part – you made me proud today.

We have a rare day off tomorrow (although of course I’ll be spending it working!). It’s the start of our really busy season now – regular sessions every night next week until Thursday, then the Ponds Forge Festival of Light on Friday (which we’re really looking forward to). The weekend is one of our busiest ever – Buxton dress rehearsal on Saturday morning, Beeston Christmas light Saturday afternoon, Chesterfield Pavement Centre Sunday morning, and Buxton band call Sunday afternoon. You’d think we’d have been sensible and booked Monday off – but no, it’s the Wakefield & Barnsley end of season concert!

Of course, we’re on the final push towards the big concert in Buxton on December 8th too. It’s great to have things falling into place for this – after a mad scramble to find a pianist after the guy I’d booked had to drop out (thanks for saving the day, Rickey Long!), the musical stuff is really on course. I genuinely believe that what we will put on that stage on December 8th will be the best concert we’ve ever produced.

Toni, some of the other singers and I spent some time visiting the base of the Derbyshire, Leicestershire and Rutland Air Ambulance on Friday – the charity we’re supporting with the Buxton concert. It was very humbling to hear about the incredible work the charity does, and reading the “thank you” cards on the wall brought a tear to my eye. I really hope we can pull out all the stops and raise a good amount of money to support them.

With the crazy way our schedules work sometimes, we’ve been spending some time this week working on events for next season – and the summer too! We’re hoping to be able to announce these next week, and we’re excited about the possibilities. We’re moving to a slightly different model for performances from now on – rather than doing just small local concerts most of the time, and one big concert every year, we’ll now be doing a medium-sized concert in one of our areas every season (a different area each season), and smaller-scale local concerts (including our regular end-of-season events) in the other areas. We’re hoping our first “medium-sized” concert will be in Nottingham at the end of the Spring season, followed by Wakefield in the summer. More details and dates to follow soon!

We’ve actually got three other concerts booked for 2013 already – events we’ve been asked to do by other organisations. These include a fund-raiser for a Citizen’s Advice Bureau, a community festival, and a concert in a very unusual location for Christmas 2013!

Final concerts of the Spring season

What an incredible week it has been – and that’s just the weather! Thank you to everyone who contributed to our “Real Variety Performance” concerts – they all went very well indeed, and I’m pleased to let you know how much we raised for the four different charities we were supporting:

  • Barnsley raised £413.09 for Lost Chord
  • Nottingham raised £588.83 for Hayward House
  • Wakefield raised £627.22 for Forget-Me-Not children’s hospice
  • Sheffield raised £934.54 for Neurocare

So, in total, we raised £2,563.68 with all our performances. Again, a very sincere thank you to everyone who made this possible.

If you’d like to join us for the Summer season, please remember to sign up before April 15th. We look forward to seeing you then!

What a great day!

Yesterday was really incredible – a packed Singposium in the morning, and an exhilarating Alight rehearsal in the afternoon. Thanks to everyone who attended either event.

The Singposium is always a fun experience (well, for me anyway!), and this season’s was no exception. Some great performances, from people who have done it before and raised their game, to people who were taking their first steps into singing solo. Nerves aplenty, but lots of fantastic singing (and acting) too. Now I’ve just got to sort through all of that and work out who’s doing what, where and when! Emails will go out just as soon as possible.

The Alight rehearsal in the afternoon was fabulous – I pushed hard and you responded. You’ve truly made me proud, and that’s before we even get to concert day! Keep working on it, don’t let the focus drop, and let’s lift Sheffield Medley as well as Olympic Triptych to be pieces we can amaze people with on the night.

And of course we mustn’t forget last weekend, when over 80 of our singers headed to Meadowhall to help raise funds for the South Yorkshire Heart Appeal. We had a great day, dusting off the music from last season, and we got a great response from the crowds of shoppers who gathered to listen. The SYHA sent a lovely email the following day, thanking us for helping them to raise over £1,200 over the weekend.

What a week!

It’s been an incredible time. After selling out for our Wakefield end of season performance last Monday, we then went on to sell out in Nottingham and Sheffield too – a fantastic experience. And although the Barnsley concert had a smaller audience, they more than made up for it with enthusiasm. Thank you to everyone who made these events so enjoyable.

Friday saw us raising money for Cancer Research with a private concert in Wollaton. Thank you so much to the golf club members for making us so welcome (even building me my own podium – incredible!). I hope you raised a great total for such a worthy cause.

We managed five performances in two days over the weekend! Our flash mob at Wakefield’s Ridings Shopping Centre was great fun, and it was great to take it to Meadowhall the following day (the place where Toni first had the idea of doing a “battle of the choirs” event). We did two really fun performances at Pinderfields Hospital (lovely to see patients enjoying the music – and some doctors too!). And on Sunday afternoon, even the pouring rain couldn’t stop us entertaining the crowds at the inaugural Lowedges Christmas Market. I’m very grateful to the organisers for finding us a spot indoors though!

The Wakefield group had their Christmas party last night, which was lovely – so nice to get people together and spend some social time just chilling out. We’re off to sing at Treetops Hospice in Nottingham this afternoon, before the Nottingham Christmas party tonight, then we’re at Sheffield Train Station tomorrow, singing for St Luke’s Hospice. That will leave just two more performances to go until Christmas!

Most of the music for next season is written now, and I’m in the studio recording it all next week. We’ve also had a great invitation to create a special event early next year, so I might have to throw an extra song in for that – details will be sent to singers soon…

The eye of the storm

It’s always a time of mixed emotions when we reach the end of a season. It’s sad that we’re no longer meeting every week, but exciting that we’re sharing our singing with audiences. It’s been a great week for that – after the Ecclesall concert in my last message, we sang at Meadowhall on 26th November, joining several groups who were raising funds for Lost Chord. There’s a video of us singing our “Phantom medley” on our YouTube channel – take a look on Thanks to the generosity of passing shoppers, Lost Chord raised over £1,000 that day – a great sum.

I had a busy weekend, as I spent most of that Sunday on a non-BeVox event – running a custom workshop for someone’s 70th birthday. His family had invited lots of his singing friends to join him for three hours of singing to celebrate his birthday, and had commissioned me to write some original arrangements too. We had a great time!

Then it was the week of final sessions, which led to some quality singing – songs coming together in ways that hadn’t until that point. We took to the streets again on Thursday and Friday with lunchtime concerts at Sheffield Winter Gardens, and collected over £180 in donations for Bluebell Wood Children’s Hospice. A very sincere “thank you” to everyone who gave so generously.

More performances today – the first of our “secret surprise” events, and the switch-on of West Bridgford Christmas Lights. We did this event last year, and we’re looking forward to going back again. Sunday is a rare day off, which Toni and I will be treating as a somewhat delayed celebration of our anniversary – we’ve been together for 5 years now. This last year has been a real whirlwind, and we’re both blown away by how exciting it all is. If you’d have shown us a picture of current lives when we got together 5 years ago, we would never have believed it!

Next week is the week of end-of-season performances – we’re very much looking forward to sharing our music with your friends and families. We’re very busy then, with thirteen events in as many days. I’ve now got just two weeks to write all the music for next season, and finish the “Olympic Triptych” for Alight – argh!

End of season approaches

It seems like there’s never time to catch breath at the moment! Our first full performance of the Autumn season is tomorrow (Ecclesall Live At Home), and we’re off to Meadowhall to help raise funds for Lost Chord on Saturday. It’s always exciting when we start taking our music out and sharing it with people, so I can’t wait for our concerts to get started. At the same time, there is so much other stuff happening at the moment, it’s hard to believe we’re approaching the end of the season – I think we’re busier than we’ve ever been.

The Magna DVDs have started to go out, so if you pre-ordered a copy, remember to bring your receipt to your weekly session so you can collect it. We’ll have them available to buy for people who didn’t pre-order next week. It’s really exciting to think that there will be people across all of our groups reliving the memories of that great concert – please share your memories and thoughts on the DVD with us, either on Facebook if you use it, on our Forum, or by emailing them to us.

The Summer Singing Retreat is filling up very fast – in fact, we no longer have any rooms available at Stubton Hall itself. There are still several places available on the B&B and single-day options, so if you want to join us, there’s still time to apply for those. We’ll be sending out confirmation letters to everyone who has applied once we hit the deadline (30th November).

The new venue in Barnsley was great last week – lovely to be made to feel so welcome, and we’re looking forward to a long association with Barnsley Academy. Let’s get lots of people to come and see our end of season performance there, so they can see how much fun it is!

Singers, a reminder that the deadline for returning your printed music and CD is Saturday December 17th – please ensure you get them back to us, in an envelope with your name on, by that date.

Whilst we’re definitely focussing on our end of season performances, we’re also working hard on some great events for next year – and beyond! We’ve had a very exciting invitation, which I can’t talk about just yet… Let’s just say it feels very weird to be thinking about events as far ahead as 2014. We’re trying our best to get at least the basic details of all our major events for 2012 sorted before Christmas, so we can let you know the key dates. I know it’s important for some of you to be able to plan things quite a distance ahead, so if we can help with this by getting our dates confirmed early then we will.

Enjoy the next month or so – we’ve got so many events lined up before Christmas that I’m sure we’ll be all sung out by December 25th!

Time flies

They say time flies when you’re having fun. I must be having a lot of fun then!

The Singposium last weekend was a great afternoon – such a supportive atmosphere in the room, and everyone who took part should be very proud of themselves. People who had taken part in last season’s Singposium as well had definitely upped their game! It was lovely to see some new faces too, including a singer from Wakefield – we’ve just got to get a Barnsley singer into next season’s Singposium and we’ll have all the groups represented. I’d like to say thanks to the singers who came along just to watch and support as well – I hope you found it interesting to see how the process works. I’ll be sending out individual emails to everyone who sang, with details of which songs and performances I’d like to offer them – once these have been accepted or rejected, I’ll be able to send everyone the list of who is performing what and when.

Of course, I’ve also had my parents attending each session this week – back from their Australian adventure, and very keen to see how BeVox works. They thoroughly enjoyed their time up here – both the singing and the chance to meet and chat with our singers. They’ve taken CDs and sheet music back to Berkshire with them, and who knows – they might just come up and sing with us in some of our performances…

And finally, last night was “Another One-Off Show” in Dronfield. Thanks to everyone who came along – particularly for your patience. I think all the waiting around ended up being worth it though, with a great performance and a fantastic reaction from the audience. The event raised over £2,000 for the mission to Nepal, so thanks for helping us support this cause.

I’ve got two big projects this week, and I’m trying to focus on them and nothing else – getting the Magna DVD ready for duplication (nearly there!), and finishing my commissioned piece for Alight. The workshop on 5th November is approaching very quickly, and I’ve still got a lot of writing to do!

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!