NEWS FROM THE ARCHIVES
This is a collections of past news and events from the WorldSong archives.
CHRISTMAS CONCERT IS CHRIS'S SWAN SONG
For the fifth year running, WorldSong brought their unique mix of traditional songs from around the world to Hearsall Baptist Church in Coventry, raising £500 for the Red Cross in the process. Playing to a packed house of around 150 people, the choir sang their hearts out and a thoroughly enjoyable evening was had by all!
Amongst the expected traditional harmony songs from places such as South Africa, Jamaica, New Zealand and Eastern Europe, the evening included 12 Christmas songs from different parts of the world. Chris also managed to persuade the audience to join in with a couple of festive numbers!
The choir premiered an arrangement of Johnny Nash's I can see clearly now as well as a jolly little Jamaican number and our sixth version of the Georgian favourite Mravalžamier. The afternoon rehearsal had been such a joy, and the choir had sung so well, that Chris had begun to worry that the evening wouldn't be so good. He needn't have done so though as the evening was even better, providing a wonderful concert for him to bow out with. This was Chris's last concert with the choir as he will be handing over to new musical director Una May Olomolaiye from January. Una May will be leading the choir in her first two concerts either side of Easter 2008.
SCRATCH CHOIR PERFORM AT WARWICK FOLK FESTIVAL
The 2007 Singing Safari proved to be even more popular than last year's! At one point we had over 50 people in the choir (created from scratch over a 6 week period), and ended up with around 40 singers performing in Market Square, Warwick on Sunday 29 July. We sang 10 songs in all including some from Eastern Europe, New Zealand, South Africa and even England and Ireland! We prayed for fine weather and were rewarded with bright sunshine attracting a large crowd which slowly grew during our half hour set. The performance ended in a mass singalong when Chris taught the audience a song from South Africa.
BBC Coventry and Warwickshire were there and managed to sneak in a live radio interview with Chris and a couple of choir members after the gig. We're also hoping for some coverage and a review of the performance in the Leamington and Warwick Courier. You can see some pictures and hear some sound clips on the Festival website.
If you missed the boat this year and fancy having a go next summer, there are plans afoot for yet another Singing Safari in 2008! Everyone is welcome whether you have sung before or not. All songs are taught by ear in the traditional way and no experience is necessary. Stay tuned for further information, or contact us to go on the mailing list.
WORLDSONG 10th ANNIVERSARY CONCERT BIGGEST EVER!
It was with some trepidation that we booked Coventry's College Theatre back in March 2007 for our grand 10th anniversary concert. The Theatre seats 650 people, and we only usually play much smaller venues with about 150 capacity! But we needn't have worried as on 21st July we attracted an enthusiastic audience of around 300 people who almost filled the downstairs auditorium.
We had the idea of making this concert a little more theatrical than usual, which was quite a challenge (but seemed like a good idea at the time!). The choir — as usual — rose to the occasion and coped extremely well with the different singing configurations, various comings and goings, stage lighting, and even some dancing! It just shows how much the choir has developed over the last 10 years to be able to take such new departures in their stride.
Starting with a surprise entrance of the choir from the back of the auditorium, including a women-only song and a men-only song, encompassing solo and small group singing, ending the concert with dancing to a South African song, and exiting singing, there was plenty of variety for the audience to enjoy. As usual we taught the audience a song at the end which they joined in with gusto. All in all, an extremely successful evening and one which we're keen to repeat and build on.
You can read more about the concert on the blog.
Following on from the success of our first CD way back in 2005, we are delighted to announce the release of a brand new live CD.
The new CD contains 28 live tracks recorded between 2004 and 2007, complete with a 12-page full-colour booklet with background on the choir and the songs. The CD will cost £10 and can be ordered now. Please send a cheque payable to WorldSong to our contact address for £10 per CD (incl. p&p), or email us and we can invoice you through PayPal.
More details and a full track listing can be found on our CD page.
Just come to the end of a fabulous day (Saturday 23 June 2007) singing with a great bunch of men in Leicester! This was the fourth year that I've run a men's harmony singing workshop. Each year I'm always a bit nervous about how many (if any!) men will turn up. Last year we had around 25, but I've been getting lots of emails this year to say people are busy and won't be able to come. So I was surprised and delighted when 37 blokes turned up at 10.30 this morning, eager to sing.
The original thinking behind these workshops was to try and get more men interested in singing. Several of us had a chat about why there are always more men than women in mixed choirs and workshops, but we didn't really come up with any answers. I've talked about it a bit on my blog if you're interested in discussing it further. However, although we had a good turn out, most of the guys are already in choirs and singing groups. We did get a couple of men though who hadn't sung in a very long while and hopefully have been inspired by the day. We sang a sea shanty, a long story song from Bulgaria about a horse, a fantastic South African song about being struck by lightning, a gospel song, and finally a moving Ukrainian song (something about women and jealousy and throwing people into the Danube!). Much to our surprise, BBC Radio Leicester turned up and recorded us singing live and did a short interview.
The plan is to run another men-only workshop next year, so do get in contact if you're interested in taking part (or know a man who could be persuaded!)
10 YEARS OF WORLDSONG
Hard to believe, but WorldSong started almost 10 years ago! On 27th October 1997 to be precise, in a drafty room in Hearsall Baptist Church, Coventry. We have two members still in the choir from that small beginning!
So 2007 will be our year of celebrating having come this far. We have several plans in the pipeline (including a grand summer concert on Saturday 21st July), and will be contacting all ex-choir members to be involved. So do get in touch if this is you, and keep a look out for further news.
SINGING SAFARI SETS OFF AGAIN JUNE 2007
Chris has again been commissioned to create a choir from scratch for this year's Warwick Folk Festival. As in 2006, a Singing Safari will set off from Warwick to collect songs from around the world to be performed on Sunday 29th July at the festival. The Singing Safari started in Warwick on Monday 18th June and continues for the six weeks leading up to the festival. We are not accepting any new safari members.
Last year's scratch choir performed to a packed crowd in Market Square, Warwick. Stay tuned for further information on performance times!
Following two years of development, the Royal Festival Hall re-opened recently with a celebratory 'Overture' weekend on 8 - 10 June. WorldSong were invited along to perform as part of the weekend along with other choirs and performers, both amateur and professional, from all over the country.
WorldSong were joined by singers from their sister choirs Woven Chords and Global Harmony to make a 110-voice choir especially for the weekend. We managed to squeeze ourselves onto a tiny stage outside the Hayward Gallery and performed a half hour set to a large and appreciative audience. It was a bit of a problem when they demanded an encore as we didn't know any more songs! So Chris decided to teach them all a song which they joined in with relish.
This was a fitting start to WorldSong's 10th anniversary celebrations. The only trouble is, now we've reached the dizzy heights of the South Bank in London, how do we top that??!!
EARLY SPRING CONCERT PULLS IN THE CROWDS 2007
A little earlier in the year than usual, and back by popular demand for the 5th year running, WorldSong held their annual "at home" concert in Earlsdon Methodist Church on Saturday 24th February.
Numbers were ever so slightly down on previous years (rugby on TV??!!) but we still managed to pull in 100 enthusiastic audience members who lustily joined in the two songs that Chris taught them. In the process we managed to raise around £600 for the church
We were lucky to have a choir at all since many members had been laid low by the dreaded lurgy! The closer we got to the concert, the more people were ringing in to say they had colds and sore throats. We managed to muster 35 people in the end, from this term's membership of 55. It was lovely to see new members joining us in concert for the first time, and to see lots of happy, smiling faces moving with the music. As Will Light from the church said: "they just keep on getting better".
BRAND NEW BLOG ABOUT CHOIRS 2006
Back in December, our musical director Chris Rowbury started writing a brand new blog: From the front of the choir to share his thoughts, insights, observations and questions from his experience of leading community choirs and singing groups. He posts a new entry every Sunday and welcomes comments and feedback.
The new blog can be found at singing-thoughts.blogspot.com. Chris has been writing it since the beginning of December, but only now in late January is he beginning to promote it. Please tell anyone who you think might be interested! Be sure to check out the archives and read all the articles.
The main aim of the blog is to create debate and discussion between choir leaders, choir members, Natural Voice practitioners, and those interested in all aspects of singing in a choir. So please read it and make comments! You might want to set up an RSS feed so you will automatically get updates as and when they are written.
More information about the blog can be found on our blog page.
CHRISTMAS CONCERT 2006 ANOTHER BIG HIT
A week earlier than normal, WorldSong played to a packed house at Hearsall Baptist Church on Saturday 9th December. This is the fourth time we have held our Christmas concert there, and each year we are pleasantly surprised by the size and enthusiasm of the audience — all of whom joined in with two rousing carols at the end.
Sadly, in each of the last three years, there has been a major earthquake somewhere in the world, and we have donated the proceedings of our concerts to humanitarian charities. This year however, we decided to donate the proceeds to the church itself which is facing a huge bill in order to comply with the latest fire regulations. We feel it is a worthy cause as it is a valuable community resource and fantastic performance space.
We're not one of those choirs who start to prepare their Christmas concerts in June, so we only manage to add one or two new Christmas songs each year! This year we learnt a haunting Hungarian folk song celebrating the star in the sky, and a rousing Appalachian version of the Cherry Tree Carol. We also premiered some new songs from Cuba, Liberia and East Africa, as well as our version of Bobby McFerrin's "Don't worry, be happy".
PAUL SIMON WORKSHOP ATTRACTS RECORD NUMBERS 2006
Chris's recent Paul Simon Songbook workshop attracted 50 singers from the local area and from as far afield as Blackburn, Lancashire! There were lots of familiar faces, as well as a fair smattering of people new to these kind of workshops. This was a record number of participants for any of Chris's Coventry workshops which shows, not only the popularity of this great song writer, but also the increasing enthusiasm for singing in this country. Long may it continue!
The workshop was fun and lively, although people did start to flag after about 5 hours! Even so, we got through four songs pretty much, and ended up making a pretty fantastic sound, especially on "The Only Living Boy in New York". A good time was had by all!
WORLDSONG APPEAR ON 2006 MYSTERIES SOUNDSCAPE
WorldSong recorded some specially composed "choral fragments" which formed part of the soundtrack played as the background score to this year's Coventry Mystery Plays. The music for the performance was composed by renowned film and theatre composer, Ilona Sekacz.
On Sunday 23rd July the Singing Safari finally reached its destination and 40 singers performed eight songs to a huge crowd gathered in Market Square, Warwick. Our thanks to Nizlopi whose soundcheck brought people flocking to the square! The 30-minute performance was enthusiastically received, and we even taught the audience a song. They then demanded an encore, but since we had only learnt eight songs, we had to reprise one we'd already sung!
Not bad for a disparate group of people who had met just six weeks earlier. WorldSong's musical director Chris Rowbury built the choir from scratch through a series of two-hour workshops. The group learnt songs from England, Croatia, USA (gospel), Scotland, South Africa and The Cook Islands (authentically accompanied by two ukuleles and a bass drum). The project organised by the Education Programme of the Festival was a resounding success. A good time was had by all, and the Festival hope to include a similar project in next year's Folk Festival. Watch this space!
SUMMER CONCERT 2006 AT THE HOPE CENTRE
The night before the World Cup final found WorldSong performing to a small but extremely appreciative audience in Coventry's Hope Centre. We had a fantastic time in this two year-old community venue in the heart of the Hillfields community. Superbly equipped and with a wonderful acoustic, we were also filmed for the first time and eagerly await the release of our first DVD! It was a very warm evening so we nearly drank their fine cafe dry during the interval and had to have the fire exit open during the second half. The concert finished with a rousing rendition of "Oh Lord give us freedom" ably assisted by a very tuneful audience who had been taught the song on the spot.
A good time was had by all and we will definitely be making a return visit to the Hope Centre who were very supportive. It's a shame that people still have outdated views of the Hillfields area of town. Choir members were very pleasantly surprised by the quality of the new community centre and the welcome we received. We look forward to our next visit.
EARLSDON CONCERT ANOTHER RESOUNDING SUCCESS 2006
For the fourth year running, we performed "at home" on Saturday 18th March 2006 at Earlsdon Methodist Church, Coventry. We played to an even greater packed house than last year — they even had to put extra seats out! An appreciative audience heard 30 songs from around the world, and were persuaded to join in with us for a rousing song at the end. The proceeds of the concert went to the church's organ fund, and we were invited back next year. We've almost become the choir in residence!
NEW WEBSITE DESIGN!
After many months of tinkering and trying to get to grips with CSS and HTML, Chris has finally managed to come up with the new website design. He's tried to keep it clean, clear and simple to navigate. There are a few new sections such as a blog and sheet music amongst others. Do let us know what you think by emailing us.
CHOIR NOW NEARING 70 MEMBERS!
From small beginnings — one week there were only three people in a drafty church hall! — we now have almost 70 singers in the choir. We recently moved to a larger rehearsal space, so were able to take on some new members in January. We still have a waiting list of over 24 people keen to join, but they'll have to wait a while!
CHRISTMAS CONCERT RAISES MONEY FOR CHARITY 2005
For the third year running WorldSong pretty much sold out their annual Christmas concert 2005, raising nearly £400 for charity in the process. The money went to the Disasters Emergency Committee which is co-ordinating fund raising for the India/ Pakistan earthquake appeal. There are still many homeless people in the region who face a bitter cold winter without proper shelter.
BBC WORLD ON YOUR STREET DAY 2005
Over half the choir came together on Saturday 20th August to be part of the BBC's World on Your Street day. We sang in glorious sunshine in the Coventry cathedral ruins to an appreciative audience. The BBC recorded the event and later that evening an interview and some of the performance was broadcast on local BBC radio. Several of the organisers and reporters said that our performance was one of the highlights of the day! You can see a picture and more coverage of the day on the BBC website.
WORLDSONG'S FIRST CD! 2005
Many people have asked us after concerts if we have a CD for sale, so we thought it was about time we did it properly! Local sound engineer Graham Bradshaw recorded our first CD in April. He was so impressed by the quality of our performance that he has put the CD out on his own label Folksound Records!
INTERNATIONAL CHILDREN'S GAMES 2005
The City of Coventry hosted the International Children's Games in early July 2005. This is the first time the games have been held in this country. On Thursday 7th July 25 members of WorldSong took part in the spectacular opening ceremony Spirit of Coventry (directed by Kathi Leahy) in the Butts stadium, singing as part of a 60-piece choir created especially for the occasion. We sang a piece composed by local musician Mike Roberts as a lament for Coventry after the bombing during the last war, ending in an uplifting call for hope and peace.
SUMMER CONCERT 2005
For the third year running, we performed on home ground on Saturday 25th June 2005 at Earlsdon Methodist Church. We played to a packed house and managed to sell quite a few CDs! Despite the heat, the audience were very enthusiastic and forced us to do a couple of encores. We also raised around £500 towards the church's organ fund.
WORLDSONG AT THE BELGRADE THEATRE 2005
After eight years of hard work, we played to our biggest audience to date at The Belgrade Theatre in Coventry. We presented a full evening's concert on Friday 8th April 2005 to over 370 friends and discerning music-lovers. They even made us do TWO encores, although we did make them sing in return!
PEACE MONTH 2004
WorldSong performed in St. Mary's Guildhall on Saturday November 13th 2004 to a full house as part of this year's Coventry Peace Month. It was a stunningly beautiful venue to perform in with a lovely acoustic. We did ourselves proud and were very well received by an enthusiastic audience. We had been working on some new songs especially for the concert, and also had many new choir members performing with us for the first time, so we were a bit nervous before the concert! We needn't have worried though as everything went swimmingly.
We sang songs of peace and also some Russian songs in order to celebrate 60 years of being twinned with Volgograd (formerly Stalingrad). Several delegates from Volgograd were present (including the deputy mayor) and thoroughly enjoyed our singing, if not our Russian accents! We were also fortunate to be joined by master santoor player Sohrab Missaghian. The santoor is an ancient Persian instrument dating back over 2,500 years and is similar to the hammered dulcimer.