The Autumn term has really flown by, with many fantastic musical events and performances. In September my soul band The Gospel Dogs had a great night playing for a charity event at the Bierkeller in Leeds. This was a great gig and we are looking forward to many more similar events.
My Bradford and Leeds All For One Choirs have been extra busy with a whole string of concerts in the run up to Christmas. A highlight of these was performing in concert with award winning vocal group G4 in ‘Carols by Candelight’ concert at Leeds Minster. This was a wonderful evening and really got us in the Christmas spirit. You can see some pictures of us performing and also a sneaky picture backstage with G4! We also took part in our huge annual AFO Choir Christmas concert in Hull City Hall. This is a gathering of our whole choir network and was a fantastic evening. Here we are in our black concert dress backstage ready to go on.
In other projects, this term I have done a lot of work with a staff choir at the RSM offices in Leeds, organised through The Workplace Choir Company. I have really enjoyed working with this great group of enthusiastic singers (who come in early to work for 8.30am choir practice!) They have gone from strength to strength this term and have performed at a number of events including Bibi’s Italian restaurant and at a choir day in Leeds Trinity shopping centre (pictured). They have created a great buzz in their workplace and love the opportunity they have to sing at work.
The last couple of weeks before Christmas have been rather hectic with all these choir events, plus local school concerts and nativities I have been helping with. So looking forward to rounding off the term and enjoying some Christmas holiday!
The summer term has been a great time for my choirs, with outdoor events galore. It’s also been exam time for some of my students and just this week, all the end of term events like leaver’s assembly for my Year 6 school choir members!
All For One Leeds and Bradford Choirs have had a brilliant term, learning some great new songs and getting into the summer spirit with lots of performances. In May we celebrated the Queen’s 90th birthday with a performance on the bandstand in Horsforth Park as part of the big community picnic event. The sun was shining, and after singing we got to watch cricket and listen to a brass band, whilst having tea and cake made by the WI. A thoroughly lovely and very British afternoon!
At Pudsey Carnival we braved the other side of the British weather, making our first outing at this event and performing a set on the main stage. The rain didn’t deter us, we had a great afternoon and have already been asked back for next year.
In July we had two events, firstly a pop up concert in St Margaret’s Church as part of the Horsforth Walk of Art festival. This is a wonderful venue to perform in, and we had a great audience gathered as it was the final afternoon of the festival. This is very local to the Leeds choir rehearsal venue, so we had lots of choir friends and family there to support. Also some great solos from our very talented choir members.
The last performance of our summer season was at the Leeds 10K race in Leeds on 17th July. We were placed on the race route about 1km in, to perform for all the runners as they came past (over 8000 took part!) It was a really uplifting atmosphere – we were cheering them on, and they were applauding us! A really nice way to complete our summer events and round off the term.
Earlier this week we took over the majority of a pub in Guiseley for a big end of term choir meal. It was great to celebrate the end of the season – with a bit of after dinner singing thrown in for good measure! Now it’s nearly time for our summer break from rehearsals, a bit of relaxation so we are ready to go again for an exciting Autumn term. Looking forward to it – watch this space! (July 2016)
The last few months have included some great performing opportunities as well as a couple of new exciting projects starting up.
On Saturday 30th April, I was directing my All For One Choirs in a very special concert with Russell Watson at Leeds Grand Theatre. This was our second opportunity to perform with the famous tenor, having been asked back following our concert in June 2015.
In the weeks leading up, all the choir members did fantastic work learning the music, mostly of a more classical style than we normally cover. Their hard work came together to produce an amazing performance on the night, in such a beautiful venue. Russell Watson gave a great show (with lots of encores!), and we had a fantastic time being part of it.
In other news, I have recently joined the team of choir directors at The Workplace Choir Company. Inspired by Gareth Malone’s ‘Sing While You Work’ show, they organise and run staff choirs for businesses and other organisations, as a way to boost staff well being and build strong teams. This is something I’ve been keen to do for a little while, so it’s really exciting to get involved. At the moment I am working with a staff choir from an accountancy firm in Leeds – early morning 8.30am choir practice once a week! They are a lovely and enthusiastic group, so it’s been a real pleasure to work with them. They are getting ready to perform at a national company conference at the moment, then hopefully some further events later in the year.
Aside from choirs, my other news is that I have just joined a new soul band, as their saxophonist. They are a Leeds based band made up of some fab musicians, called The Gospel Dogs. Our set list includes a lot of funky tunes to get a party started – it’s shaping up to be a lot of fun! The group is quite newly formed, so we are currently rehearsing ready to get out and about playing some gigs. So watch this space – more news to follow! (May 2016)
On 22nd February I had a truly fantastic night, directing choir members from Bradford and Leeds All For One Choirs onstage in a very special concert with superstar Leona Lewis. Winner of the X Factor in 2006, Leona Lewis has since had an incredible international career. She had decided to invite a different community choir to sing with her on each date of her UK ‘I am’ tour, and amazingly we were invited to be the choir for the Sheffield date!
My choir members worked really hard preparing and gave a great performance on the night in Sheffield City Hall. We joined Leona and her talented band onstage to sing the great anthem ‘Run’ which was one of her most popular songs. When we came off stage Leona was lovely in thanking us for taking part (we wouldn’t have missed it for the world!), then we got a few backstage pics with her (see right). A wonderful experience for everyone involved and great story for our All For One Choir.