Our singers have a blast at the UK Choir Festival!
Wednesday 22 February 2023
By Beth McMillan
On Saturday 11th February, Chorlton Sings and Alty Voices were thrilled to have the opportunity to take part in the 2023 UK Choir Festival.
The annual festival brings together choirs from across the UK to perform and learn from industry professionals. This year’s festival was held at Manchester High School for Girls. It featured a range of workshops, talks, and performances from participating choirs.
The event was attended by over 200 singers from various choir groups, including gospel, community, and church choirs. Some had travelled from as far afield as the Lake District and Yorkshire!
After a scrumptious breakfast, the day began with a welcome from festival director Russell Scott. After this, choirs took part in various workshops, learning from some of the industry’s leading professional choir conductors.
Meet the experts…
The day’s sessions focused on a wide range of topics, from vocal technique and harmony to story-telling and performance skills.
Firstly, Craig Lees, a contemporary vocal coach, choral leader and arranger led a fantastic workshop on ‘Performing contemporary rock and pop music’. Craig coached us to improve our blend and sound smoother in harmonies.
Next, Suzzie Vango, a choir director, choral educator and voice coach led a ‘Vocal keep fit’ session. She focussed on vocal techniques and tone. This session opened our eyes to how sections of songs can be transformed by register and expression into our voices.
Nicholas Cleobury, a conductor and choral specialist, considered the evolution of music. He focussed particularly on songs from the 12th century. This was a fascinating insight in to how music has changed through time and how music as we know it today came to be.
After a slap-up lunch, we returned to the hall for a ‘Gospel Expressions’ workshop with Carla Jane. Carla is an award winning vocalist and choir director, specialising in gospel singing techniques. And she certainly had us all up and dancing! Check out the workshop in action in the video below.
Hold on to that feeling…
The day’s four experts led a group workshop for our day’s final teaching session. All attendees banded together to learn and perform a stunning rendition of Journey’s infamous hit ‘Don’t Stop Believing’.
Watch a clip of us in action via the video below from the UK Choir Festival Facebook Page.
The day concluded with individual performances from each choir. Attendees showcased what they had learned throughout the day whilst performing something from their repertoire.
We were blown away by the exceptional vocal talent and musicality demonstrated by all choirs at the event. A Lion King medley performed by one of the groups was amongst our highlights and we enjoyed experiencing the sheer depth of talent in the room.
Finally, our two choirs joined together for our first ever joint performance of ‘Watermelon Sugar’ and ‘Running Up That Hill’. Of course we were also thrilled to be the only group to get the rest of the room out of their seats, dancing and singing along!
What we thought
Overall, we’d say the UK Choir Festival 2023 was a resounding success! We had the chance to learn from some of the industry’s leading professionals and to perform alongside our peers from across the UK. Furthermore, singers of all ages and levels enjoyed an invaluable opportunity to improve their skills, gain inspiration and develop their love for singing.
Here’s what some of our singers had to say…
“I had such a lovely day! I find singing really uplifting – which is probably why I sing in 3 choirs! By the end of the day I was on such a high. The vocal workout really put me through my paces as I noticed at choir the following day that my stomach muscles were hurting!! I loved the way that all the different choirs came together to sing in harmony, and how supportive we all were of each other’s performances. Sign me up to the next one!” – Ashwini Kamath – Alty Voices and Chorlton Sings
“I had a great time. I thought it was organised well and my favourite part was learning vocal techniques that I didn’t know before.” – Ian Gerbex – Chorlton Sings
“It was lovely to spend a day socialising with the choir outside of rehearsals and hearing from other choirs as well. To bring so many different styles and voices together just showed the beauty of music and the power of song. I loved being able to perform as a group in front of industry professionals too, to be able to showcase how hard we’ve worked as a choir. Craig was the standout for me, his session was very clear and concise, easy to follow, and he brought a bit of humour to the session to make sure it stayed fun whilst learning something new.” – Harry Benham – Chorlton Sings
Finally, our Choir Leader Rose De Font shared her views on the day.
“It was so inspiring, we learnt more about the use of our voice and different singing styles and it was a great bonding experience for our choir to be able to watch and learn from other choirs and perform together. Another highlight was also the breakfast we brought with us! People contributed lots of home-made goods and it just showed how lovely our choir is.”
Want to find out more?
If you want to learn more about the UK Choir Festival , check out the UK Choir Festival website.