Category Archives: Singing

Summer Colour Concert Raises £2905 for London Youth Charity XLP

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On 15th July 2015 we welcomed some 200 people into the beautiful St James Clerkenwell for our colour-themed concert with Marylebone Community Choir!

The evening’s colourful musical treats ranged from Basement Jaxx’s Red Alert to Counting Crows’ Colourblind, from Elton John’s Goodbye Yellow Brick Road to The Staves’ Black and White. The concert also featured performances from the incredibly talented Lillie Jo (16) and Trey Qua (19) from XLP’s Arts Showcase – one of the various projects XLP runs in London to promote young people’s achievement.

11755172_10153206490819821_3780357352577738660_n11752039_10153206490789821_6336573096120247807_nIt was great to have XLP’s founder and CEO Patrick Regan with us, who shared so passionately about their work to create positive futures for young people in some of London’s most marginalised communities. To find out more about XLP’s work, visit www.xlp.org.uk.

The final songs of the evening brought together Sing Tower Hamlets and Marylebone Community Choir for joint performances of Coldplay’s Yellow and ELO’s Mr Blue Sky. (We loved working with MCC last summer, and were thrilled to do a repeat performance this year!)

The concert raised a fantastic £2,905.50 for XLP, with ticket sales and donations from the evening being match-funded by Deutsche Bank. A huge THANK YOU to everyone who performed in and came along to the concert for your part in making this happen!

While I can’t claim credit for mashing up KT Tunstall’s Black Horse and a Cherry Tree with The White Stripes’ Seven Nation Army, I can only conclude that it was pre-ordained for our concert, given the theme! Here’s Sing Tower Hamlets performing the mash-up to open the second half of the show:

See you after the summer for more singing joy!

STH x

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Over £2000 Raised for The Sick Children’s Trust

On WeDSC_2752dnesday 9th July, Sing Tower Hamlets joined with the brilliant Marylebone Community Choir for their debut joint concert, in aid of The Sick Children’s Trust.

More than 120 people came along to watch the choirs perform at St John at Hackney. Amongst the audience were Alan Booth and Irma Cambron who run Stevenson House, the charity’s home supporting families with sick children at The Royal London Hospital. We are delighted to have raised a total of £2437.46 for Stevenson House, which includes generous match funding from Deutsche Bank. Thank you to everyone who came along to support friends and family in the choirs, and for enabling us to make this donation to such a great charity!

DSC_2719The Sick Children’s Trust was founded in 1982 by two paediatric specialists who believed that having parents on hand during hospital treatment benefited a child’s recovery. Today they have nine ‘Homes from Home’ at major hospitals around the country where families can stay free of charge, for as long as they need whilst their child is undergoing treatment. In the last 30 years they have supported more than 40,000 families. You can find out more about the charity by visiting www.sickchildrenstrust.org.

It was great fun performing alongside Marylebone Community Choir! We met them back in April 2014 when we were both performing at the Southbank Centre’s Chorus Festival – and so began the beginning of a beautiful friendship! This was our first concert together with them – and hopefully not our last!

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Spring Performances!

Spring 2014 Community Concert PosterSpring has sprung (hard to believe the difference from this time last year!), and we’re excited to be performing a couple of times over the next few weeks…

On Saturday 29th March, we are hosting a community concert at St Paul’s Shadwell, performing a range of new material, and welcoming a group of local children and adults for a special performance following on from the music workshops we helped run throughout March. Check out the Facebook event for more information.

The following week, we are performing at the Southbank Centre as part of the Chorus Festival: on Sunday 6th April we will be hosting a song sharing session at 11.30am in the St Paul’s Pavilion, and at 1.30pm we will be performing a 20 minute slot next to the Mandela statue (how cool a performance spot is that?!). We’d love you to come say hello! There are loads of brilliant singing events and activities taking place across the Southbank Centre that whole weekend, so why not make a day of it…?!

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One Year In: A 2013 Retrospective

This time last year, Sing Tower Hamlets was a mere twinkle in its mother’s eye.

At the end of 2012 I was doodling logo ideas, getting my knickers in a twist over what the poster ought to look like (“I want it to feel kind of homemade… approachable… professional but not too slick…!”), and trying to decide exactly what kind of choir we were going to be (“If I say we’ll be singing gospel will that put people off? Does the small number of African songs I know count as ‘world music’?! Just how niche a show tune can a community choir handle?!!”).

Fast forward a year, to 28th December 2013… I’m merrily browsing Facebook after one-too-many mince pies (’tis the season, after all), when I see this status update from a member, one of our basses, who’s been with us since the beginning. (I’m not going to lie, it may have brought a little tear to my eye.)

It’s fun to look back over the year and think of how things have developed. I remember so clearly, as 2012 turned into 2013 and the initial taster session approached, trying my best to focus on planning what we were actually going to sing without getting distracted by musings over how many people it takes to actually constitute a choir anyway. I was obviously thrilled when 20 people showed up that first evening (including a few friends drafted in as a rent-a-crowd, granted!). (And according to the internets, that was plenty, even by conservative estimates – hoorah!) And so, Sing Tower Hamlets was born.

At the end of that first term, we put on our debut concert at St Paul’s church in Shadwell, complete with an audience singalong, choir-baked goods, and freak weather. In the Summer, we joined other local acts to perform in Victoria Park as part of a local Our Big Gig event, and then in December 2013, we put on a joint fundraising concert with Victoria Park Singers, raising over £2000 for GrowTH. But these performances were really just the icing on the cake; the real fun happened week in week out, as a group of people from various walks of life – different ages, backgrounds, and experience of singing – gathered together to make music, and built a little community in the process.

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Here at the end of 2013, I am proud to say that Sing Tower Hamlets is no longer just an idea in my head, but a living, breathing, real life CHOIR! (I have a choir! Seriously… it never gets old.) And they really are a great bunch you know: friendly, welcoming, great fun, brilliantly musical, and hailing from all over that most excellent part of London, Tower Hamlets (and beyond, no less!). Some have been with us since the beginning, others just for a term, but all are brought together through a shared love of singing to make up this fab little community choir.

But don’t just take my word for it. Check out what our members are saying…

“Sing Tower Hamlets has been the perfect musical addition to my week! It’s a really fun mix of songs, I’ve made a load of great new friends, and every time I come home feeling energised and just plain happy from making music!”

“I felt welcome straight away, and have had great fun getting to know people. It’s been a joy singing together!”

“Singing together is a truly uplifting experience”

“It has been an absolute joy being part of Sing Tower Hamlets. Such a lively and friendly bunch of people all doing something we love once a week to fight the midweek blues. I couldn’t have done without it this Autumn, a real treat!”

…or better still, why not come along and give it a go yourself in 2014? We start back up again on Wednesday 29th January. If you’re stuck for a New Year’s Resolution, how about this one: must. sing. more!

It’s been a great first year… roll on 2014!

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Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas – December 2013

SingTH_Christmas2013-7001462We had a fab evening on Wednesday 11th December performing alongside Victoria Park Singers at St Peter’s church in Bethnal Green. The concert was a fundraiser for the brilliant charity GrowTH which works not only to provide emergency meals and beds for homeless people in Tower Hamlets, but also in securing accommodation longer term for those in need. We are delighted to have raised a total of £1431.77 in ticket sales and donations on the night! And thanks to the generous offer of match funding from one of our member’s companies, we will be able to make a donation of over £2000 to GrowTH. Thank you to all who came, helped out, sang, and donated, to make that possible!

SingTH_Christmas2013-7001585The concert was attended by those staying at the shelter that evening, along with volunteer coordinator Ryan Lynch from the Good Shepherd Mission in Bethnal Green. Before we sang our final carols, Ryan shared how GrowTH exists not only to be Jesus’ hands and feet and meet an important practical need, but also to demonstrate Jesus’ heart of compassion, treating guests not just as clients, but as individuals made in the image of God. This approach was very evident to me when I visited the night shelter a number of times in the lead up to the concert, working with some of the guests to learn those final songs to sing with us on the night. GrowTH is more than just service provision; there is a tangible sense of the “Truly he taught us to love one another” we sang of that night. It was a real privilege to have been involved with GrowTH over the last few months, and we hope to be able to do more with them in the future!

MERRY CHRISTMAS!

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Christmas 2013 Fundraiser Concert

In just under a month we will be performing a Christmas concert with fellow East London community choir Victoria Park Singers! The concert is on Wednesday 11th December, 8pm, at St Peter’s Bethnal Green… and we’ve been getting well into the festive spirit in rehearsals the past few weeks!

The concert will feature seasonal music including Baby It’s Cold Outside, Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas and a selection of carols. Our two choirs will bring together 80 singers to perform several joint pieces, as well as our own repertoire, and we hope also to be joined on the night by some guests from the GrowTH night shelter, for which the concert will be raising money.

GrowTH is a great local charity working with Tower Hamlets churches to provide emergency beds and food for homeless people throughout the winter. Last year alone they brought together some 400 local volunteers to provide shelter for 169 people, and helped 54 of those into permanent accommodation. Through this concert we hope to raise as much as possible for this work supporting vulnerable people in our area.

Tickets (£8/£6 concessions) are available from singtowerhamlets@gmail.com, or on the door.

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Our Big Gig – July 2013

We had a great time performing in the sunshine at Our Big Gig in Victoria Park back in the summer! It was fab to join together with lots of other great local acts – a big YAY to community music in the east end! If you missed it (or didn’t, but want to reminisce!), here are some photos/videos from the day:

Seasons of Love from the musical Rent. Solos by Amy and Nathan!

Photos by Peter Anderson
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More photos on our Facebook page!

Come Together by The Beatles. (Piano is a bit loud at the beginning, make sure your speakers aren’t up too loud!)

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Our Big Gig – just 2 weeks to go!

It’s less than two weeks until our performance in Victoria Park as part of a local Our Big Gig event – and we can’t wait!

Our Big Gig is a community music celebration taking place across the UK throughout the weekend of 11-14th July. The event in Victoria Park is on Sunday 14th July, and features various local artists, choirs, an orchestra, a dance group… and of course: Sing Tower Hamlets!

We will be performing at around 4pm on Sunday 14th July – do let us know you’re coming so we can look out for you! We’ve been working hard on a load of new material this term, so we would love to see you there 🙂

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There’s so much stuff to sing: my musical theatre appreciation renaissance

In the pub after choir a couple of weeks ago, I was reminded of the fact that I’d mentioned we might do the odd show tune as part of the Sing Tower Hamlets repertoire every now and then. Joy! Seasons of Love was put forward as an idea, and goodness – who am I to argue?

It doesn’t take much to get me all animated about musical theatre. However, I am sad to say that it’s been a while since I’ve been really immersed in it.

At university I pretty much lived and breathed musicals.

That would be me, aged 18.

That would be me, aged 18.

Within weeks of arriving in York, I was cast in a production of A Chorus Line (complete with red sparkly bowler hats and waistcoats for the finale, and a not-entirely-convincing Puerto Rican accent in the part of Diana Morales), and after that there was no stopping me: I did about a show a term in the 6 years I was there (much to the chagrin of my tutors who for some reason wanted me to be focusing on Psychology for my degrees in, well, Psychology).

When I wasn’t performing in shows, you could probably find me talking about shows (with Fabs, Eamonn, Matt, Tim, and anyone else who’d listen), in the music practice rooms belting out some of my favourite tunes (with Oli), or on youtube comparing the gravity-defying capabilities of various Elphabas (again with Oli, most of the time with Liz looking on with an uncomfortable mixture of bemusement and deep affection).

Songs for a New World (2001)

Songs for a New World (2001)

It was during those years that I was introduced to the wonderment that is Jason Robert Brown (Rich – I am forever in your debt), performed and directed various Stephen Sondheim shows (that is if you can call taking a version of Company you’re in love with and putting it on in the Drama Barn “directing” – hey, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it), and had way too much fun playing all the characters whilst singing along to Boubil and Schonberg soundtracks at home (sometimes even getting our King Charles Cavalier Spaniel involved in the role of Tam).

It would be wrong to say I took all those opportunities for granted while I was at university (I’m not sure how much more involved I could have been), and I’m still partial to a one-woman performance of Miss Saigon in my bedroom every now and then, but suffice to say that musical theatre has played a far smaller role in my life since I left uni in 2005. Which is, as they say, sad times.

It pleases me greatly, therefore, to say that I have recently had a bit of a musical theatre renaissance. I am yet to figure out a way, post-university, of talking people into putting on shows of my choosing so that I can be in them without taking on the responsibility of making them happen (any ideas welcome!), but February gave me several opportunities to be re-immersed in the joy of geeking out about musical theatre.

First, to the person who came up with the idea of making a film of Les Miserables, let me say this: I LOVE YOU. Having seen the stage show a good 4 or 5 times, and sang through the libretto word for word more times than I can remember, I was going in with high expectations, and I’m not saying I loved it all. But when it was good… oh it was so good.

The first time I saw it, I pretty much didn’t breathe until the end of the prologue, and by the time it got to Valjean’s Soliloquy, I was in bits. He barely gets out “what spirit comes to move my life?”, and yet it’s one of the most perfectly delivered lines in the whole film – not to mention the hopelessness with which he sings “as I stare into the void; to the whirlpool of my sin”. Argh – it’s just so good. Total class act. And then there was I Dreamed a Dream; for me, it doesn’t get much better than that. Anne Hathaway acted the living daylights out of that song – to the extent that it didn’t matter whether the notes sounded pretty or not. (Unlike Stars, which IMHO sounded more like a One Direction cover than the overflow of Javert’s defiant and legalistic heart. It pains me to join the bandwagon of Russell Crowe haters, but I struggled to not get annoyed by the fact that he stopped acting when he started singing – there seemed to be more emphasis on singing the right notes than really feeling it. Now, this is more like it.) In an interview about the making of the film, Anne Hathaway said, “There seemed to be something selfish about trying to go for the pretty version… I decided to apply the truth to the melody, and see what would happen.” – and THAT, my dear Anne, is how you absolutely bloody nailed it. Best Supporting Actress well deserved.

Of course, at any mention of the film, I have also enjoyed doing that musical-geek thing of pointing out that the Bishop in the film is the original Jean Valjean. Because I’m cool like that.

merrily_menier_progRight back at the beginning of February, I went to see the decidedly-less-epic but no-less-wonderful Merrily We Roll Along at the Menier Chocolate Factory. I am yet to be disappointed by a production at the Menier (other crackers include Tick Tick Boom, The Last Five Years, the ridiculously wonderful Sunday in the Park with George, and A Little Night Music, which was the last thing I saw there), and this was no exception. Franklin Shepherd Inc was predictably outstanding (writing that good demands someone brilliant to deliver it, and Damian Humbley certainly delivered par excellence), and Jenna Russell apparently just got on with being enviably awesome in yet another enviable role (Mary Flynn, The Baker’s Wife, Dot/Marie – I mean, come on). I’ve always felt that Our Time is a bit cheesy out of context, but by the time you get there within the show, it just feels like a relief to see Frank and Charlie back at the start, starry-eyed about music: “Gives you the shivers, makes you think: there’s so much stuff to sing.” Well, indeed.

I’m not sure those poor unsuspecting choir members realise quite what they unleashed in The Prospect of Whitby that night… now, where’s my Rent Vocal Selections…?

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And we’re off…!

sth3Getting a group of people in a room together to sing never fails to fill me with joy, and last Wednesday evening (the first session of my new community choir venture) was no exception.  As someone used to doing this, you’d think the excitement might wear thin after a while, but on Wednesday I was excited afresh by the fact that you can gather a newly-formed group of people and within a few hours have them three-part-harmonying their way through Ghanaian folk songs, a funked-up Amazing Grace, and a Fleet Foxes classic.  (So excited, in fact, that I feel at liberty to make the phrase “three part harmony” into a verb.)

After the session, my friend and fellow singing-fanatic Liz wrote a (tiny) poem about it on her blog, and it made me smile so much I thought I’d share it here:

(here is a small

poem about

singing:

open your mouth

let out your voice.

stand in a circle

with twenty strangers

and

let the sound

ring over you.)

Indeed.  Roll on next Wednesday evening!

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