Thursday 20 June 2013

Celebrating singing - Voices Now 2013

Voices Now the festival celebrating singing and choirs is back at the Roundhouse this weekend (Thursday 20 June to Sunday 23 June 2013). The festival showcases a whole variety of choral singing, with some major artists like the BBC Singers, the Hilliard Ensemble, Only Men Aloud, the London Gay Mens Chorus and the Holst Singers on the main stage. But alongside this programme there is the Open Stage featuring a wide variety of groups from the voluntary music making sector, ranging from the Anglo Chinese Junior College Alumni Choir (Singapore) and Chelmsford Community Gospel Choir to the ROH Thurrock Community Choir and Collegium Musicum London.

Things kick off tonight with a joint concert by the BBC Singers and Harrow schools. It is the culmination of a long term project that the BBC Singers have been running with schools in Harrow. The twenty-six Harrow school choirs will be performing works by Britten and Copland and a phenomenal new commission by Grace Rossiter and Stephen Jeffes The Elements. 

Then on Friday night the Hilliard Ensemble, who are celebrating 40 years performing together, will perform alongside three newly formed consorts of young singers created by Voices Now. The programme will include a range of old and new music including Viderunt Omnes by Perotin and Most Holy Mother of God by Arvo Part and a brand new commission by Orlando Gough for the Hilliard Ensemble and the new consorts.

Saturday on the main stage sees two very different all male groups, Only Men Aloud and the London Gay Men's Chorus performing in a celebration of male singing traditions. On Sunday the Holst Singers are running a workshop on the Rachmaninov Vespers and in the evening sees the performance of a new commission, City Songs by Eriks Esenvalds with words by Emma Jones, A celebration of the choral and the communal. Performed by Imogen Heap and Holst Singers, Codetta, Roundhouse Choir, Green Street Blues, Funky Voices and St Mary’s School Choir.

But the beauty of the event is that you don't have to plan, there is always something happening either on the main stage or elsewhere. Evening events on the main stage need paid tickets, but everything else is free. The first festival in March 2011 saw over 2,000 people perform to a live audience in excess of 5,000 with thousands more listening online and through national radio broadcasts.

The event is organised by Voices Now in partnership with the Roundhouse and Making Music. I'll be there on Saturday, wearing my Making Music hat.

Further information and full  timetable information from the Voices Now website.

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