Buses, Glitter and Angel Wings: #RealVoicesOnTour

July 2017 saw the very first (of hopefully many!) tours for Real Voices! With at least one performance every weekend it was a fairly busy month for our Vauxhall and Brixton choirs! 

We kicked things off as every tour should: singing on a bus in Stockwell! We were privileged to start the entertainment on the Stage Bus at the Stockwell Festival.

We then got on an actual bus to pop up to the Southbank centre for the fabulous Chorus Festival. Organised by Voicelab, this takes place every year and brings many different choirs together for a celebrating singing. We performed a half hour set on the Clore Ballroom Stage to a fantastic audience. This was the first time both choirs had performed properly together and what a sound we made :)

The following weekend took Real Voices north of the river for the first time ever! Now, we’d only take our choirs out of South London for something as special as the Voices Now festival at the Roundhouse! As part of a weekend full of fantastic workshops and choral performances, the festival also offers choirs the chance to perform on the open stages. One performance at the Roundhouse and another down the road at Camden Market. An absolutely glorious day of singing in the sunshine, dressed to celebrate London Pride!

The Vauxhall choir then descended on the Wheatsheaf Hall the following day for their end of year gig. Joined by the Milton String Quartet and of course our fantastic regular band, it was a really fitting celebration of the first year of Real Voices. It was a fantastic evening all round - the perfect atmospheric setting, great music and a fantastic audience. More photos to come..

The following weekend we stayed close to home with a performance at the Lambeth Country Show! We were on the Oxjam Clapham stage, and despite the rain, had an absolutely fantastic time performing to a great audience. We don't have many photos but there are some amazing ones here: https://www.facebook.com/media/set/…

To round off a great month, the Brixton choir had their debut performance as a collective at the Hootananny Brixton. We just about managed to squeeze on the stage, with the bases on a box at the front (as you do!) Having only formed in February this year, it was wonderful to celebrate the achievements and progress they’ve made so far.

So, a fairly packed July! We are now resting up before we get singing again in September. If you’d like to get involved, we’re actually full in Vauxhall and currently only have space for men in Brixton. However, we are launching a new Clapham Junction group on Tuesday evenings in September! Get in touch if you’d like to come along to see if you like it!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Singing For Solidarity

ONE CHOIR'S RESPONSE TO THE OUTCOME OF THE EU REFERENDUM.

On Friday 24th June 2016, the United Kingdom awoke to a result that has divided the nation. Feeling overwhelmed with emotion and surrounded by hate, fear and blame we decided to spread love and togetherness in the way we know best. Through singing.

A group of us descended on one of the street pianos at St. Pancras International and had a good sing for an hour with the people passing by. We felt better and others around us did too.

Our Musical Director documented the experience here: Have a read.

www.beckychalmers.com/blog-1/

Keeping It Real

Music always seems to deliver it’s punchline straight to the heart, pretty much from the opening few bars
— Suzy

A few of us from Real Voices went to a choir gig recently- 1) because we are music nerds ( no apologies, no shame)  2) because there would be drinking opportunities and 3) because...cheese alert...weactually DO like hanging out together outside of Real Voices!

We had a fantastic evening listening to an eclectic range of musical styles and songs- all great food for thought for a thriving choir like ourselves. Something that particularly struck me was how each act differed in their performance style - the way each shapedtheir connection with the audience. I hadn't really thought about it much with regard to musical performers and yet it s a kind of default when I am acting in anything - knowing the ways I can effectively engage with my audience to strengthen my delivery of a role e.g. bytotally eyeballing them if the partlends itselfor conversely being so much in character I might never look directly at them at all.

Whichever the route, theatre tends to gradually dripfeed it's audience an emotional drug and they in turn slowly debate and delay their own feelings as the story unfolds. Music by comparison always seems to deliver it's punchline straight to the heart, pretty much from the opening few bars. Like billowing smoke it spreads relentlessly towards you till you can't avoid breathing it in! At a very early point you make an important emotional decision-is it pungent, dense, cloying or is it fragrant, evocative, soothing, energising?

Almost instantaneously the emotional die is cast, your heart beats a little faster, you feel a surge of adrenalin and only after that does your attention turn back to the performers themselves. Aside of their musicianship, where are they in the performance? Some are cheekily smiling out at their audience sharing their obvious enjoyment, others are so completely immersed in the emotion of the words and the music they draw you in anyway - either way you feel the sincerity of the performance regardless of the style its delivered in - if they believe in it then the music makes an even deeper impact.

Standing in a circle of music last night rehearsing a new song, I glanced around - some of us had their eyes closed, some were gently swaying, some were smiling right at me! (doh-spinach on my teeth again....?) Several tweaks in, the song began to sound really impressive!   

Wow I thought, just WOW! : 20 minutes of joint effort, respect, courage, encouragement - not too shoddy at all!!

And then I had another thought (I get them now and again) and that thought was....this is what Real Voices does so well – it's plainly obvious we have a solid mutual respect of each other that (without sounding cultish) seems to bring our focus together, feeds our musical challenges and produces stonkingly high calibre ensemble singing.

And actually the fact that many RV ers are not musically trained or don't have experience of performing (so thelearning curve has in many ways been much steeper) just goes to show the commitment and the talent that is there. Now THAT is being real isn't it and I'm sure it is the result of those challenges which add meaning to our performances!

Unapologetically finishing my musings with a cheesy (but honest) hashtag slogan:

#canyoufeeltherealvoices?

Suzy is a part-time educator, keen actress and perpetual student of life.

Warming Up

KFC the Opera

A refreshingly honest account from one of our lovely tenors.

Finding this choir has been serendipitous - singing once a week has kept me sane.
— Fiona Smith

I've always sung. My Dad, a great music fan, was a Morris dancer, and I grew up encouraged to listen, sing and dance. At two I wrote the classic song "Willy Cat" (about our cat, Willum, Willy to his friends, obvs). At work I've always sung about what I'm doing to the delight/despair of my colleagues. From "KFC the Opera", to songs that got me through military exercises in the field. I sing to the present house cats, ripping off Morcombe and Wise ("Bring me Thomas, bring me Sam"). They like it. I think.

I've sung in a choir of sorts on and off from the age of ten, and sung tenor parts since about fifteen, when I met another girl tenor and found I preferred that part. I've written poetry and the odd song, occasionally with accompaniment. But, despite this love (including karaoke in Japan) I'm incredibly shy about sharing what I've written, and rather shy about singing alone. I'm not a great fan of hearing other people singing (they have to be pretty good!). But singing in a choir - allows me to sing at my absolute best. I'm braver and better. I rely upon others (perhaps they rely upon me too). I sing with a confidence and clarity that I couldn't command on my own. 

Why sing? At best, silly sundry worries dissipate, and it provides the ultimate therapy. A balm to soothe all troubles. At "worst", it's still a great evening with friends, hearing music previously unknown, pushing the limits of my singing ability. I can read music but its not essential; within the choir we move and shift together. The right notes become second nature.

Finding this choir has been some kind of wonderful. I've made remarkably close friends, pushed my singing abilities and discovered new music. I've moved house and job in the last year, and become very fond of south west London. However, that's not been without its challenges. Finding this choir has been serendipitous - singing once a week has kept me sane. 

Why sing with us? We're lovely. Well, we're my kind of lovely which could be your kind of lovely - find out?

Fiona works at a think tank. Read her profile here!

Great Harmonies & Accidentally Hitting People..

Josie, one of our wonderful sopranos, shares a bit about her musical background and her thoughts on the first Real Voices session.

Since I was at school, I have always enjoyed partaking in musical activities (choir, musicals, competitions etc.). The first choir I joined after school was 'Voci dal Mondo' in Perugia, Italy. Voci dal Mondo - or - Voices of the World - is literally what the choir was: a bunch of people from countries around the world singing in different languages.

I moved to London about 3 years ago and I intended to find a choir, but, life just kept getting in the way. Studying. Working. Renovating. Four Moves. Personal projects. Etc. For a while, my musical outlet was the occasional jam with mates, but eventually I craved something more structured. I recently went in search of a local choir: a somewhat frustrating experience. These were held in small venues and though the directors were bubbly and the musical arrangements were quite simple, the sound the director elicited from the singers was mostly jumbled! I soon gave up and pursued other activities (more like commitments to further flat renovation and a second job!).

I think after a couple of weeks of Real Voices, I will find it difficult to imagine not being part of a choir.
— Josie

Literally the month my life calms down a bit, I get a message from my ridiculously-super-musical friend (Becky) saying she's starting a choir. A SIGN! 

Upon my arrival to Real Voices - session 1, the first thing I noticed was how approachable everyone was. There was even a guy making tea for everyone (thanks Jonathan). Once we were all settled, Becky began the session. I should mention that I have known Becky since high school, and her comical, excitable, friendly manner had not changed a bit! 

We started with some warm ups that left me laughing and accidentally hitting people I had just met (I'll have to concentrate harder on the actual warm up next time!). Our first piece, by Fleet Foxes, was taught by earrather than sight reading. This was rather refreshing for me, as I don't really read music. Next was a track by Paolo Nutini. I am not a huge fan of Paolo Nutini, but since last week I have played this particular song a million times and it is becoming a favourite song of mine. We ended on a high note (particularly the tenors/basses!) with an upbeat Peter Gabriel number, leaving everyone in a good mood. To top it all off, there was some serious face scoffing of delicious carrot cake that Tricia made; there was enough for about 30 people and I even smuggled an extra slice for myself! Face scoffage was followed by a quick trip to the pub for post choir drinks where everyone chatted to everyone; the good mood infectious. 

Session 1 certainly had a lot of a lot of singing (obviously), a lot of giggles and a lot of nice sounds. The two hours flew by, and in a small about of time, progress was certainly palpable. The musical arrangements were great: all parts were given different components of the song, so there is a very satisfying degree of variation and challenge for each part (ie. each part gets a go at the good bits!) With clear direction from Becky, the harmonies were coming together very nicely! 

I think after a couple of weeks of Real Voices, I will find it difficult to imagine not being part of a choir. 

Josie is a Built Heritage Consultant and part-time illustrator. If you like the sound of what you've read, why not get in touch and join us for a session?

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