BT River of Music: A Choral Catch-Up

26 March 2012

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Stratford East Singers in rehearsal with Byron Gold. Photography by Tim Hedley.Stratford East Singers in rehearsal with Byron Gold. Photography by Tim Hedley.

With the voice in mind, we thought we’d share some of the spectacular vocal projects currently rehearsing around the country in preparation for performances at BT River of Music on 21 and 22 July 2012. In partnership with RNCM in the North West, Manchester World Voices Choir led by Gospel star Audrey Mattis will join Africa’s ‘Premiere Diva’ Angelique Kidjo to perform some of her greatest hits including Fifa. In the heart of London and the home to the Olympic Games, Theatre Royal Stratford East’s community choir, Stratford East Singers join renowned trumpeter and musical director Kevin Robinson to perform his arrangement of Jimmy Cliff’s hit The Harder they Come.  And further south and heading west, in partnership with Lighthouse in Poole, Coastal Voices choir will perform Australian composer and violinist Sonia Slany’s incredible arrangements of Nick Cave’s cult- classics under the musical direction of Howard Moody. For a taste of Coastal Voices’ work in Poole in 2012, take a look at this video on BBC News Dorset.

We managed to grab five minutes with Howard Moody who leads Coastal Voices and Byron Gold from Stratford East Singers to get the low down on their choirs’ progress to date…

Do you feel the place that you are making/creating the music is having an impact on the work?

Howard: “Our senses are being opened to the amazing local geography and the very fact that the new commissions are being sung by the people who live in the area defines the music making in a special way. It’s a real coming together of diverse communities.”

Byron: “The participants are a real reflection of the diversity of East London, and their energy is definitely influencing the repertoire.

Coastal Voices singers at the Twin Sails Performance. Copyright © Masie Hill.

Have you had any performances recently that have helped build excitement for your Olympic performance?

Howard: The 3 songs by Sonia Slany received their first outing at the opening of Twin Sails Bridge in Poole on March 9, performed in front of a thousand strong audience. It was the perfect setting for over 200 local people singing Carry Me whilst the stunningly designed bridge was opened and used publicly for the first time.”

What are you most looking forward to about your performance at BT River of Music?

Byron: “It’s going to be such a milestone for all the singers and as the games are literally happening on our doorstep, it’s great that the local residents get to be actively involved in the build up to the Games.”

Give me three words to sum up your choir…

Howard: Everyone can sing!

Byron: Ever-expanding, family, ambitious!

BT River of Music will welcome the world to London with a spectacular weekend of free music from across the 205 Olympic and Paralympic nations, presented at iconic sites along the River Thames on 21 and 22 July 2012.  BT River of Music is part of the London 2012 Festival. It is produced by Serious, and supported by National Lottery Funds through the Olympic Lottery Distributor and Arts Council England.

The vocal projects mentioned above are all a result of ongoing learning and participation work that Serious is producing in partnership with various organisations around the UK. Coastal Voices has also received additional funding support from Paul Hamlyn Foundation.

Post by Serious.

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