Community choirs are singing again - why not join them?
When the world went into lockdown early in 2020, the arts and entertainment industry was hit hard.
Overnight, theatres, cinemas and other venues were closed and choirs and other community groups were forced to cancel meetings and rehearsals.
Many adapted by holding Zoom meetings or streaming live shows online, a holding strategy until a time when some form of normality would be restored.
Restrictions began easing in July of this year and groups started to welcome their members back.
It’s been a slow start with some of those with health issues still reluctant to leave their homes and mix with people outside their family groups.
Studies have shown that singing can have a massive positive effect on mental health and Wakefield has a thriving choir community.
Most are informal and do not require auditions to join in, just a desire to sing and enjoy being part of a group with a shared interest.
One such group, So Choir!, pictured right, was set up five years ago by professional musician Nic Slack.
He said:“I set up So Choir! to give everyone the chance to be in a band.
“The buzz you get from making music with other like-minded people is like no other and everyone should get to experience it”.
He added: “If you can speak, you can sing. No-one likes the sound of their own voice, but it’s not about how you sound on your own.
“When you add your voice to a mix of other different sounding voices, you get this sumptuous, lush chorus sound that is utterly addictive”
Another Wakefield choir, Singing Mums, is on the lookout for new members.
All women are welcome to join whether they are mums or not, regardless of age, and, as with the other choirs there are no auditions or special singing talent required.
The group is hosting a free trial session on Monday, November 1, from 7.30pm at The Hop on Bank Street which includes a glass of prosecco.
Singing Mums founder Georgia Jakubiak said: “Wakefield Singing Mums opened in April 2018 as a pop/rock choir for mums to join in the evening for a bit of me time and a chance to relax and socialise as well as have a good sing-song.
“We use great songs in a way that is accessible to those of all ages and singing abilities with easy harmonies that sound great and we occasionally enjoy performing.”
Pianist Jenna Fan is the founder of Ossett Local Vocals. She said: “I wanted to start a choir that normal people wanted to join, that wasn’t elitist. We sing pop music and have a laugh and it’s fun.
“At the moment we are working towards Christmas and we’ll be performing at various events throughout the community as well as at our Christmas concert on December 4 at Christ Church, South Ossett.
“Since we’ve got back to live rehearsals you can see what a difference it makes.
“Our members leave buzzing and refreshed and feeling great.”
Wakefield Rock choir’s Rebecca Frodsham agrees: “Singing - especially singing in a group - makes you feel so much better.
“It’s overwhelming how incredible it sounds to be back in the room again and I think people realise how much they missed it.
“All the local choirs are doing an amazing thing by coming together to support people’s wellbeing.”
Choirs in Pontefract and Castleford
Castleford Male Voice Choir
Castleford Male Voice Choir (CMVC) has been going a little longer than most.
Founded in 1926 it celebrates its 95th anniversary this year.
During lockdown, as with many other choirs, the members carried singing together via Zoom and then, when allowed, met outside for alfresco rehearsals.
Now back to their normal rehearsals every Friday evening, they are preparing for two concerts.
Chairman Ian Moss said: “The first formal concert, post pandemic, is to be held on Saturday October 30 at All Saints Hightown Church, Lumley Street, Castleford where the choir will be celebrating music from the sixties.
“Miniskirts and psychedelic shirts are optional.
“And, if we dare we mention the word Christmas, CMVC is to hold a Christmas Concert with special guests, the Salvation Army Band on Friday December 3 at Trinity Methodist Church in Castleford.
“This will be a full Christmas concert with plenty of opportunity for the audience to sing along to their favourite carols with the choir and band.
“The choir’s motto is that once December arrives it is never too early to celebrate Christmas, there may also be a mince pie or two.”
CMVC’s 36 members come from all walks of life and new members are welcome.
Mr Moss said: “There is safety in numbers, so even if you are a little nervous it is worth a try.
“Rehearsal details are on the website or you can attend one of our concerts and introduce yourself to a member.”
The Liquorice Singers
A Pontefract community choir has returned to rehearsals after lockdown and welcomed several new members into its ranks - just in time for the busy Christmas season.
The Liquorice Singers has grown from a small casual group of singers to a mixed choir of 35 members which celebrated its 10th anniversary last year.
Musical director Rowena Dobson said: “Our September concert was songs we had learned through lockdown on Zoom and the choir had only four full rehearsals beforehand as we had to initially rehearse in small groups.
“It was very emotional and uplifting to be performing again and we had a standing ovation.”
The choir is already fully booked for the remainder of the year with the first concert on November 28 at the Pontefract Christmas light switch-on
A Christmas concert is hosted by Pontefract Civic Society at The Kings Croft on December 9 at 7pm and the choir will be at St Michael’s Church Knottingley on December 2, 7pm - both ticketed events.
Ms Dobson added: “There’s a Christmas afternoon concert at The Jenny Wren in Beal on December 19 and we will be at one of the December markets as well as a family afternoon at the Blind Pig on December 12 (booking required) and outside Pickerings Butchers on December 23 at 11am.
“We are also doing a couple of private events and a fundraiser in Ackworth.”
Contact details for choirs in the Wakefield District
Featherstone Male Voice Choir - www.fmvc.co.uk/So Choir! - www.sochoir.co.ukCastleford Male Voice Choir - www.castlefordmalevoicechoir.co.ukSinging Mums - www.singingmums.co.ukLiquorice Singers - https://liquoricesingers.wixsite.com/liquoriceRock Choir Yorkshire - Leeds, Ilkley, Wakefield & Keighley - www.rockchoir.com/Wakefield Community Gospel Choir - www.wakefieldcgchoir.co.uk/local Vocals - https://fanfaremusic.com/local-vocals-choirYorkshire Philharmonic Choir - www.yorkshirephilharmonicchoir.co.ukSandal Singers - https://sandalsingers.co.uk/