I talked to the four leading music directors of the 5 big chorus groups and asked how they were filling their time.
Stefan Holmstrom , who leads both Resound and Rebelles groups told me: “ we were gutted to have to postpone our Fringe show “Baring it All “ But we encourage all who bought tickets to donate the £ 14 to Fairshare Sussex , a charity that re-distributes surplus food and is working hard to get meals to vulnerable people during the pandemic. “
” We will start doing regular Zoom sessions soon for choir members.”
Stefan is keeping busy coaching and teaching singers online and soon doing Estill Voice Training workshops, which will be open to all. Estill is a scientific way of learning how the voice works . “ We can train individual parts of the voice, like the tongue, vocal folds, jaw and lips . It works on all forms from opera to pop and for those recovering after vocal damage,” he told me.
Further details of his lessons on Stefans website here
Aneesa Chaudhry, who leads the Rainbow Chorus is also using Zoom for virtual rehearsals and thank you videos to the lgbtq community. She’s also connected to a group making hospital scrubs as part of the “ Singing for Scrubs” campaign. You can check the video out here
She’s leading masterclasses in singing techniques , choral theory and songwriting , plus choir karaoke sessions and quizzes. Aneesa gives 1 to 1 singing lessons, vocal confidence and public speaking sessions . On 27 May she will run a Lockdown Karaoke . She’s also offering to sing a song on her doorstep for bereaved families who have lost loved ones in the pandemic. Further details from Aneesachaudhry.com
Sam Cousins , leader of Actually Gay Men’s Chorus is focussing with his members on mental health and keeping in touch. The choir is meeting virtually at its usual rehearsal time via Zoom and he’s teaching some of the music for future post-lockdown concerts , as well as teaching singing technique and basic music theory .
And to keep it light , each rehearsal ends with the wearing of silly hats and crazy costumes ! “ we’re hosting watch parties and looking at old recordings of our shows from the last 15 years,” he told me . He also plans to make opportunities for members to sing from their front rooms with a lockdown virtual audience to support them.
Their eagerly awaited 15th anniversary show has now been postponed till 2021 , but in the meantime in their spare time they are reaching out to help their designated charities – Sussex Beacon and Lunch Positive .
Last but not least Joe Paxton of the Brighton Gay Men’s Chorus filled me in on their activities.
” We’re using Zoom for rehearsals , including the non-Christmas elements of our December show . I’m offering choir skills programmes as well as basic and advanced music theory “
Basic Bitches Learn Their Pitches shows how to read music , pitch, rhythms and intervals.
Kate Bush Advanced Music Theory looks at roles, time signatures and keys.
And Vocal Technique for Divas teaches what every little Madonna needs to know , including the Italian Bel Canto technique.
Joe’s also helping budding composers and soloists and finally his Abandoned Gay Cabarfet has members performing from their isolation.
So all in all our choirs are busy : frustrated but busy and maybe here’s an idea – when all this is over there could be a mass gathering of the singers at a large venue to give thanks and raise money – just a thought.