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!

Busy times

It’s been a busy week! We had a great time singing at Louise Lewus’ wedding last Friday, and we wish her and Chris a long and happy life together. Then it was off to Sheffield University’s Firth Hall for the Alight Commissions Workshop – a breathtaking day, in many ways! It was incredible to hear “Olympic Triptych” starting to take shape, and I’m very grateful to everyone who persevered and made this first workshop so successful.

We have a new home for our Barnsley group, as of next week – we’re moving to Barnsley Academy, Farm Road, Kendray, Barnsley S70 3DL. There’s a map here, and you can check out the school on their website – www.barnsley-academy.org. It’s a welcoming place, with good car parking, and great acoustics. We’ll be here for the foreseeable future, including for our end of season performance.

We also have a new venue for our Nottingham end of season performance. As The Becket School is unavailable, we’ll be singing at the Chilwell Arts Theatre, attached to Chilwell School, Queens Road West, Chilwell, Beeston, Nottingham NG9 5AL. There’s a map on the Contact page of their website – www.chilwellartstheatre.co.uk.

We’ve had lots of interest in our Summer Singing Retreat, which is great. We visited Stubton Hall on Tuesday to check everything out, and plan menus for the week – very exciting! In response to questions and feedback from our singers, we’ve added a few extra options, including the chance to add dinner at Stubton to the B&B packages, and some “first half of week only” options. Take a look at the “Additional options” application form on the Summer Singing Retreat page for more information – and to see some of the menu ideas we have!

We’ve also finally finished editing the Magna DVD – it will go to the duplication company this weekend, so the DVDs will be ready to ship out to people who have pre-ordered as soon as they come back from being duplicated. We’re really pleased with how the DVD has come together – it’s a great way to remember a very exciting day, and will make a brilliant Christmas present for friends and family – especially people who couldn’t make the concert itself.

Autumn season approaches

We’re in the midst of preparations for the Autumn season, and it’s getting exciting! We have a new venue for the Barnsley group – Carlton Community College, on Royston Lane. The full postal address and a link to a map are on the Contacts page. We’re really thrilled to be moving to this new venue – it’s a bright, modern building with excellent facilities. Take a look at their website if you’re interested – www.carltoncommunitycollege.org.

We’ve made a start on putting the Magna DVD together, and we’re very excited about how it looks and sounds. Look out for a pre-order form which will be available from this website in the next few days, and hopefully in a week or two we should have a sneak preview of the DVD itself available on our YouTube page – check back here for details in a week or two!

I’m over halfway through writing the arrangements for the Autumn season, and there’s some great stuff to work on. I can’t wait to start singing it with you. I’m recording the rehearsal tracks in London on Friday and Saturday next week, then mixing and mastering the following week. There are some nice challenges in the music this season – scatting in “A foggy day”, made-up languages in “Adiemus”, and the longest medley we’ve ever done. There’s also the chance for some beautiful choral singing, with classics like “Moon river” and “What the world needs now is love”. All in all, it’s going to be a great season!

We’re looking forward to Lowedges Festival tomorrow, and the BeVox Fun Day/Picnic the following weekend. Let’s hope for good weather…

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.