Mances Marvellous Musical Magic

Mances Marvellous Musical Magic

Mances Marvellous Musical Magic

Fascinating Rhythm attended an intensive coaching weekend with Rob Mance on the 20th & 21st of May.

Rob was last with Fascinating Rhythm in April 2022 and the choir was keen to meet him again and show him the results of the hard work all choir members had put in. They definitely made Rob smile, he remarked that the choir had made a significant step change in vocal quality since he last visited and he recognised the amazing work that the musical team had championed to gain this improvement.

All choir members worked incredibly hard over the last year incorporating straws, using TETuner and working on their own personal vocal instruction (PVI) to make vocal improvements.

Rob was able to build on the work already done and this time round focussed Fascinating Rhythm on pitch accuracy and breathing.

By the afternoon of day 1 Fascinating Rhythm had identified some areas to work on in relation to pitch intervals, Rob assessed the entire choir giving new PVI’s where needed and he undertook a full assessment for effective riser placement. The new sound was awesome!

Fascinating Rhythm members were keen to get back to work on day 2. During the warm-up, Rob remarked that he noticed an improvement just from the previous day. The session focussed on breathing and most importantly how to breathe effectively as a singer and how to relax. Understanding the anatomy of breathing was very useful and Rob was able to dispel a few Barbershop breathing myths.

Mances Marvellous Musical Magic Sleeping Lions

Fascinating Rhythm are completely floored by Rob Mance as he teaches effective breathing technique for singing.

“The weekend was incredibly rewarding and the vocal quality produced by the end of the weekend was sublime. We’ve worked so hard over the past year and it was so encouraging that Rob recognised the significant improvements we have collectively made.”

Jo Thorn (Musical Director)

Choir members remarked on how relaxed they now felt when singing on the risers and how this helped them produce the best sound. Rob commented that it was inspiring to see the growth of the group.

Fascinating Rhythm has plenty to work on before Rob returns to coach them in September and look forward to achieving further vocal improvement.

JFR Celebrates Eisteddfod success 2023!

JFR Celebrates Eisteddfod success 2023!

JFR Celebrates Eisteddfod success 2023!

Junior Fascinating Rhythm (Junior FR) is celebrating another successful year at the recent Thornbury Eisteddfod, part of the Thornbury Arts Festival 2023. Both the junior and senior groups did brilliantly, and both gained a Distinction with 89 marks and came second in their class. Twelve of the girls also competed with their solos and duets; four were invited back to participate in a concert as a finale to the Eisteddfod.

Choir Performances

Junior FR’s senior girls (aged 11-16) competed in the ‘Choirs 18 and Under’ category. They received a Distinction for their beautiful performance of ‘Something Stupid’ made famous by Frank & Nancy Sinatra and, more recently, Nicole Kidman and Robbie Williams.

“The harmony lines were clear and well blended, bringing out the melody as it moved between the voice parts”.

The adjudicator, Anna Marshall, commented,

For their second song, they sang the beautiful ‘Amazing Grace’ to the music of Pachelbel’s Canon.

“The harmony singing was accurate and well balanced with effective dynamics in the last section – well done!”

Junior FR’s junior girls (aged 7-10 years) competed in the ‘Choirs 11 and Under’ category. They were Commended for their performance of ‘Doll on a Music Box/Truly Scrumptious’ by the Sherman brothers. “You fitted the two parts together successfully in this stylish and focused performance”.

They followed this with  ‘Let’s Go Fly a Kite’, by David Tomlinson and Dick Van Dyke.

“Well done to every singer for concentrating so much and watching and listening intently”.

“I’m beyond proud of the juniors and seniors for their performances. They have worked really hard and attained 89 marks, coming 2nd in each of their classes”.

Junior FR’s Musical Director, Wendy, said,

Solo and Duet Performances

Twelve of our Junior FR girls also performed in solo and duet categories at the music festival, and they all did exceptionally well.

Natalie debuted with a performance in the under 11s Songs from the Shows category with ‘Consider Yourself’ from Oliver and won her class with her mark, classifying her as Outstanding! Her twin sister Beth,  entertained the audience with the well-known Sea Shanty, ‘The Wellerman’, in the Traditional under 11—also Beth’s first time competing in the Eisteddfod.

Amelie and Evie came joint 1st in the 12 – 14 Show Songs with their solos, ‘Almost There’ from The Princess and the Frog & ‘On My Own’ from Les Miserables.

Seasoned Eisteddfod performer Lily Howse was commended for her performance of ‘When Will My Life Begin’ from the film Tangled.

Evie also performed in the Traditional 12-14 category and performed ‘The Brisk and Bonny Lass’, as well as entertaining everyone with ‘To make you feel my love’ in the newly introduced Pop Song category.

Caitlin sang in the 12- 14 Classical section with Le Violette from Scarlatti’s opera and performed her musical theatre number ‘Empty Chairs and Empty Tables’ from Les Miserables, and she won a cup.

Amelie and Lily dueted in the  12 -14s with the Abba classic Dancing Queen, winning their class with an outstanding classification. Everyone enjoyed their really great choreography.

In the same category, Caitlin and Grace sang the much-loved ‘When I Grow Up’ from the musical Matilda. This was Grace’s first duet at the competition.

In the Under 18 Vocal duet category, Anna and Izzy sang ‘Shallow’ from A Star is Born and gained a Distinction.

Jasmine Wright, Olivia Heal, and Carys Herdman entered the non-competitive category with their a cappella arrangement of ‘Hold Back the River’. Anne Marshall commented that they had a lovely blend and should continue with their close harmony singing.

Eisteddfod Finale Concert

On Friday 24th March at 7 pm in the United Reformed Church, Thornbury. Lily, Amelie, Evie and Natalie performed their solo and duet pieces in the finale concert. Evie was presented with another trophy for the most promising vocalist, and Junior FR as a whole was given a special award by Kate Phillipson-Masters choir, Cadence, in recognition of the work the JFR team does to train and bring on the next generation of singers – “For generally being Just Great!!!”

“It’s been a brilliant Eisteddfod season for JFR again. Lots of new members stepped up to the plate and found their inner confidence to compete. Both choirs did exceptionally well, gaining really high marks and wowing the audience. Winning lots of cups and finishing with Junior FR being given a special award for their contribution to the Eisteddfod has made me really proud,”

Director Wendy Howse.

Iron Acton May Day

In May, Junior FR had a fabulous day entertaining audiences at the Iron Acton May Day celebrations with their Eisteddfod pieces. For the first time, 4 of the girls came together to perform as a quartet with their a cappella rendition of ELO’s Mr Blue Sky.  The choir closed their set with another new achievement – a performance of ‘This Is Me’ from the Greatest Showman in 4-part harmony. Singing in 4 parts is no mean feat and the girls rose to the challenge without hesitation.

“Once again we were well received at May Day. It was a joy to direct such a talented bunch of girls. And then sit back and watch the soloists and duets take the stage with so much confidence.”

Junior FR’s Music Director, Wendy Howse

Keeping it in the family

One of Junior FR’s newest and youngest members, Elsie, has a long-standing connection to Fascinating Rhythm because her grandma Di sings Bass with the chorus and has done for many years, and her daughter, Mads (Elsie’s Auntie) used to sing in the Baritone section.

“Elsie has been wanting to be part of Junior Fascinating Rhythm since she first saw them perform with us  – probably age 2 or 3! When I told Wendy a year ago, she gave her a JFR hoodie, which has hung in the wardrobe for almost a year – waiting! She was so proud when she finally got to wear it last week. I was amazed at how quickly she fell into the rehearsal process and how quickly she learned her words ( not like me!).

For myself, I have loved seeing and hearing the young talent at its rawest, and I really enjoy helping in the teaching sessions and breakouts. It’s added a whole new dimension to the FR experience.”

Di said,

“It’s really good being part of Junior FR because I like singing with everyone else, and it makes me really happy because I have made friends there!

“I was a bit nervous about competing in the Eisteddfod, but it was awesome, and the other choirs were really good!”

Elsie said,

Joining Junior FR

Junior FR is currently recruiting new members, so if you, or someone you know, is interested in taking up singing or joining, please contact us via our website. Junior FR is a choir for girls aged 7 to 16 years old. There is no audition process for new members, and no previous singing or musical experience is needed. Members meet weekly during term time at Iron Acton Village Hall (Friday afternoons, 4.00-5.30 pm), perform at events throughout the year and help to raise money for various charities.

A Singing Extravaganza with Go Vocal and Off the Record!

A Singing Extravaganza with Go Vocal and Off the Record!

A Singing Extravaganza with Go Vocal and Off the Record!

Fascinating Rhythm enjoyed sharing a concert with the local Gloucestershire mixed voice singing group Go Vocal and local barbershop quartet Off The Record on 18th February 2023 at Mangotsfield School.

The variation in styles and songs gave the audience a feast of sound and entertainment.  Fascinating Rhythm performed a selection of 10 a cappella songs, including show tunes like “We Go Together” from Grease, pop songs such as  “Titanium” and the crowd-pleasing jazz number “Feeling Good”, as well as our current barbershop competition package. 

Fascinating Rhythm held its most recent “Love to Sing” day in January, and delegates worked on “Feeling Good” during the workshop.  Excitingly delegates were then offered the opportunity to polish the song over the next three weekly rehearsals with the choir as a further introduction to singing in a choir.  The icing on the cake was an invitation for these delegates to perform this song with Fascinating Rhythm on the stage at this concert.

A huge well done to Claire Tring, Sophie Doughty, Cathryn Gazzard, Claire McGine and Sue Mullins, who truly took the song from page to stage.  Whilst some might have been out of their comfort zone, it didn’t show, and their performances were fantastic and received rousing applause from the audience. 

“I really enjoyed the Love to Sing workshop, so I jumped at the chance to join FR for a few rehearsals and to perform Feeling Good with them on stage. They are a brilliantly talented group of women, so it was quite nerve-wracking to stand and sing beside them before an audience – but everyone in the group is so friendly and supportive… and that makes all the difference. After the first few bars, I managed to relax, sing out and enjoy it!  I’m so glad I did it as it has reawakened my love of singing – I hadn’t sung with a choir since I left school 40 years ago, and it’s given me the kick I needed to start again. The best part about the evening was watching FR’s amazing performances and seeing how much singing as a group meant to everyone involved. Thank you for the opportunity – definitely an experience I’d recommend to anyone who wants to give it a go….”

Claire McGine said afterwards,

We were also delighted to welcome our newest member, Fionnuala Costello, to the stage for her debut performance.

Go Vocal, led by Linda Corcoran, gave an outstanding and equally varied performance of show and pop songs arranged for male and female voices, differentiated from FR by their inclusion of backing tracks.  They also gave the audience a wonderfully atmospheric rendition of Adiemus by Karl Jenkins.  Local guest barbershop quartet Off The Record, made up of Tom Adams, Paul Richmond, Hayden Cole and Hugh Parker, rounded out the concert with their own individual style.  The quartet performed two short sets, including their current competition package, which has taken them through to the national semi-finals of this year’s BABS quartet national championships.  We wish them the very best for the next round and also thank Paul Richmond for his fantastic and funny MC slots during the show!

It was such a pleasure to share the stage with Go Vocal and Off The Record.  After the last few difficult years, it was amazing to be able to perform in a fantastic show which promoted the amazing singing talent we have locally.  I was also delighted that we were able to bring on to the stage some wonderful ladies who had learnt the song Feeling Good in just three weeks.  As musical director, it was wonderful to watch their development and confidence; I was very proud to be with them on stage”.

Fascinating Rhythm’s musical director Jo Thorn said of the concert;

We look forward to future performances and collaborations with these wonderful groups.

AGM is back in the room

AGM is back in the room

AGM is back in the room

After two years of meeting for our AGM on Zoom, it was such a joy to get together for this year’s event, on January 19th, both for the business side of reviewing and planning and for the much-appreciated social time and yummy food!

Reports from Iris O’Loughlin (Chair) and Jo Thorn (MD) were entitled, respectively, ‘A year of adapting’ and ‘Making our way back, still’, both reflecting on the gradual return to normal rehearsals and club life after the disruption of the Covid pandemic.  There have been so many wonderful highlights this year; a wonderful evening with Deke Sharon; our introduction to Rob Mance techniques; a return to live performances in Keynsham, Cheltenham and Weston-Super-Mare, plus the wonderful BBBB concert in November; a fantastic coaching weekend in September organised by our very own music team; and a lovely social weekend in Bournemouth for this year’s Labbs convention.   Some of these events gave some of our ‘pre-covid newbies’ their first opportunity to perform with us to an audience, and it was wonderful to witness their excitement and joy. 

Membership has fluctuated during the pandemic, but we are proud to still boast over 40 members of the FR family. We hope to build this number through 2023, particularly after the highly successful Love to Sing workshop which followed just after the AGM.  We celebrated a number of membership awards during the proceedings, beginning with the Chair’s award, which went to Ali Jack for her longstanding and ongoing dedication to the chorus with the many roles and tasks she carries out on our behalf, including being an original founding member and section leader.  The Director’s award was given to Vikki Champion and Kathryn Turton in thanks and recognition for the skill and effort they demonstrated in changing parts prior to the convention to help with chorus balance.  The Member’s award recipient was Joan Josey, the outgoing Treasurer, in recognition of the many years of service she has given in this role and also for the fantastic fund-raising activities she has personally organised to benefit the various charities we have supported.  We were also able to use the event to celebrate a couple of very significant long service awards to Lead Section Leader Karen Mellalieu and Bass Section Leader Brenda Roberts, both of whom celebrated 25 years with Fascinating Rhythm.  We are fortunate indeed to have such experience and dedication to guide us.

The gathering together at the AGM was the perfect time to look ahead to 2023 and plan the direction the club/chorus wishes to take.  The decision was taken not to attend Labbs this year but to hold a retreat weekend with coaching to allow further embedding of Rob Mance’s vocal techniques and plenty of social time.  The chorus voted to add to our repertoire with new songs during the year, to bring back a couple of previous convention songs and to drop one older song.  Thursday night rehearsals were also discussed with a view to adding more section-time rather than additional rehearsals.

The business of the event was concluded with only one change in committee roles, with Linda Holden being voted in to replace Joan Josey, who wishes to retire from the role of Treasurer after her many years of service.  Members thanked both of them and the remainder of the committee for their time and dedication to keeping the club running smoothly and effectively.  We are proud to announce that FR will be supporting St. Peter’s Hospice as this year’s Charity, along with fund-raising events to support the members and ensure that no one is excluded from events based on financial hardship.

2023 looks like an exciting year to be a member of Fascinating Rhythm, new songs, new approaches, coaching and plenty of performance events.  Get in touch via our social media sites or website if you’d be interested in visiting us!

Love to Sing Workshop – Fascinating Rhythm it’s first  since Lockdown

Love to Sing Workshop – Fascinating Rhythm it’s first since Lockdown

Love to Sing Workshop
Fascinating Rhythm it’s first since Lockdown

Fascinating Rhythm’s popular Love to Sing Workshop was finally back at Marlwood School, Alveston, Bristol, on 28th January 2023. The turnout was fantastic, with over 45 women there to discover what singing in four-part harmony is all about. The challenge: to go from “page to stage” supported by Fascinating Rhythm members, in a day, with family and friends invited to see their performance at the end of the afternoon. The result?  A joyous day of fun and song rounded off with a fabulous performance.

The day started with a welcome from our Chair, Iris O’Loughin, who thanked Anne-marie and Fascinating Rhythm members for their hard teamwork in making the day happen. This was followed by physical and vocal warm-ups led by Musical Director Jo Thorn, who explained how important these are to ensure we are making the best use of our voices. As a choir, we then sang three songs from our repertoire so delegates got a feel for our rich, melodic sound. Jo then explained the four harmony parts and divided the group into vocal sections.

We then worked hard, learning the notes and words for the first half of the song “Feeling Good” throughout the morning. Just before lunch, we had a chance to come together to hear just how good we could sound, and Jo encouraged delegates to try singing without the words and music.

Lunch and delicious cakes gave us a much-needed energy boost and an opportunity to mingle and chat about our love of singing before we moved back into tackling the final verse. First, though, a fun energiser, led by Fascinating Rhythm’s Deputy Musical Director Wendy Howse, banished the post-lunch mental lull and really helped us re-focus.

We worked hard again and then were reunited to work on refining the sound. Kitty Davis, one of our new Creative Musical Assistants, helped delegates consider how they could interpret the music and bring more expression to the sound by visualising images suggested by the words.

Jo’s delight at the group’s progress and ability was overflowing. Her passion and energy for singing is clearly contagious, inspiring participants to want to be at their best.

She said:

“Singing is simply joyous. It’s truly so good for your mental health and well-being; it should be on prescription.”

By the time we welcomed family and friends, most delegates, although perhaps a little apprehensive, were ready to give it a go, and they brought the house down!

You can enjoy listening to their performance here

“I can honestly say that was the best performance from any of our “Love to Sing” days – I am blown away. Every single one of you should be tremendously proud – I certainly am!”

Jo Commented.

Everyone left with a smile on their face, and we hope some will take up our complementary offer to come along to our rehearsals for the next three weeks and then join us to perform on stage at our next singing extravaganza with Go Vocal on the 18th of February. 

Comments from enthused delegates are still rolling in:

  • “Thank you for an incredible experience of what it’s like to make music together.”
  • “Super impressed with Jo’s skill, enthusiasm and knowledge.”
  • “If you’ll have me, I’d love to see more of what it’s about.”
  • “Thank you for a lovely day – I thoroughly enjoyed it!”

If you love to sing, why not get in touch and join us at our weekly rehearsals on Thursdays from 7:30 to 10 pm at The Greenfield Centre, Winterbourne, Bristol and/or come along to our concert at Mangotsfield school on 18th February?

You can get your tickets here – we would love to see you!

Fascinating Rhythm Insights 12: Love to Sing – showcasing our members who joined after attending a Love to Sing Workshop

Fascinating Rhythm Insights 12: Love to Sing – showcasing our members who joined after attending a Love to Sing Workshop

Love to Sing – showcasing our members who joined after attending a Love to Sing Workshop

Fascinating Rhythm is very proud to be hosting its annual Love to Sing Workshop again after a 3-year gap. Previously known as ‘Learn to Sing’ Workshops, they have been retitled “LOVE” to Sing. In the course of one day, Fascinating Rhythm takes the participants through a new song literally from ‘page to stage.’ 

Why is Fascinating Rhythm so passionate about its workshops?

It is an excellent opportunity for this top 10 all-female barbershop chorus to provide women in the local community with the chance to experience the joy of singing in 4-part harmony in a fun and safe environment. FR always hope that the day will potentially result in a few new members, but they also get a real buzz from helping ladies discover their singing voice. Oh, and there’s an opportunity to sell yummy cakes to a captive audience and to make some great friends.

To demonstrate what our Love to Sing workshops offer, 5 of our ladies who became members following a workshop give us their take on their experience.

Anne-marie (Bass)

Anne-marie attended several of these workshops over the years and always enjoyed the day. There was a different song to learn each year, and she has particularly fond memories of singing ‘One Fine Day” and “This is Me”. She always found it to be a great day out. Anne-marie said,

“I enjoyed the excitement of the performance at the end of the day and also listening to Fascinating Rhythm sing.”

Anne-marie had only ever sung in a local choir but found it unorganised and unwelcoming, so much so that she left after a year, and no one even noticed she had gone! She was always impressed with Fascinating Rhythm’s organisation and its relaxed and fun atmosphere. Deciding she needed a new interest in her life outside of work, Anne-marie took the leap to “feel the fear and to do it anyway” and joined the choir in 2020 and hasn’t regretted it since.  

Fionna (Lead)

Fionna attended four Love to Sing workshops, starting in 2017, before she decided she wanted to join the FR. 

She knew of Fascinating Rhythm right back in the days when they rehearsed in Rangeworthy Village Hall

She had seen them perform and liked their sound and thought it would be a fun thing to try. Fionna remembers all the songs “Sweet Talking Guy”, “Shine”, “This is Me”, and “Make Your Own Kind of Music”. What a memory she has.

Fionna always thought that Fascinating Rhythm was well organised, everyone was friendly, and she enjoyed the variety of activities during the Workshop, culminating in a complete performance of the song in front of a live audience. For someone nervous and lacking confidence in relation to singing, this was a real achievement, and she felt so proud that she had managed to sing on stage and in front of an audience.

Fionna commented,

“The Love to Sing day provides a real opportunity to step outside of your comfort zone and meet with a bunch of like-minded women; it’s challenging but welcoming all in one. I felt very safe.”  

It took a few years for Fionna to commit to joining Fascinating Rhythm, but that was mainly because she had young children. She joined in 2020 and said, “It is lovely to sing with the choir and make harmonies, my singing has improved, and I have learned a great deal. I am much less nervous when performing on stage now.”

Kate (Bass)

Kate has been Fionna’s friend for over 30 years, and it was Fionna who introduced her to Fascinating Rhythm. Kate has always enjoyed music and says,

“Much to her husband’s annoyance, and she finds herself harmonising to many songs whilst driving in her car. She’d often thought about joining a choir but never did anything about it. In 2017 Fionna asked Kate if she would attend the Love to Sing Workshop with her. The song to learn that year was “Sweet Talking Guy”. Kate says, “wow, what a wonderful event that was. I’d never experienced anything like it before. I was very apprehensive, not even sure if I could sing. The choir gave us such a warm welcome, and Jo Thorn (the Musical Director) impressed me so much that I even went up to her at lunchtime to tell her so. There must have been 20 or 40 people there that day and to turn us all into performing singers in just one day was a major achievement. I felt so confident and elated, I almost joined there and then, but couldn’t commit at the time.”

Kate attended the Workshop again in 2018 with Fionna and couldn’t hold back from joining. She attended a Fascinating Rhythm rehearsal on 12th April 2018 and said she was pleased she joined.

“Joining the choir has been such an awakening for me, yes, it’s challenging, and yes, you need to commit to learning new songs, but the benefits are tremendous. Singing in harmony is good for the soul, and my confidence has noticeably increased; I’m much less stressed in my life, and I very much look forward to Thursday night rehearsals.”

Emma (Bass)

Emma heard about the Workshop through Fascinating Rhythm’s Assistant Musical Director, Wendy Howse, and through Junior FR. Emma had sung in her choir at school but gave up singing when she started working. She had seen Fascinating Rhythm perform several times and wanted to give it a go. It took several years, though, to pluck up the courage to attend.

It was the Workshop in 2019 that Emma attended that made such an impact on her. They sang “Make Your Own Kind of Music”, and Emma reports that this song still makes her smile when it comes on the radio.

She said,

“At the Workshop, everyone was super welcoming; there was a huge amount of cake and a real buzz in the room. The singing felt awesome, especially when the parts came together. I had the bug, signed up there and then and haven’t looked back since. Joining Fascinating Rhythm for me has been life-changing. I find it so joyful, and Thursday nights give me my “me time”.”

About joining Fascinating Rhythm, Emma said, “I love having something that I selfishly do just for me (not work or family – just me!). I have made wonderful friends and really enjoy the eclectic mix of ladies, conversation and giggles. And I just adore the goosebump moments when it all comes together, and we are on form – such a beautiful sound.”

Carole (Baritone)

Carole attended the Workshop in 2018 after she’d seen an advert online. She had sung with another barbershop choir and knew about the quality of Fascinating Rhythm’s singing. She finds singing enjoyable and rewarding.

Before joining the choir, Carole played the Ukulele with a local group and dabbled in craft work.

Her first impressions of the Workshop were that it was very organised; she says She enjoyed everything about the Workshop and found the baritone section so friendly and approachable. She said,

“It really was lots of fun, and I came away shattered but with a big smile on my face.”

Carole felt she would improve further from the experience of joining Fascinating Rhythm, and although she was sorry to leave her other singing buddies, she joined Fascinating Rhythm in the Spring of 2018. She keeps in touch with her other choir buddies as the barbershop world is one big family.  

To sum up – what have you gained from joining Fascinating Rhythm?

 “It’s just the best!!! New friends, a love of learning new songs, singing in harmony is good for the soul.”


 “I have improved in confidence to sing; I am singing to a high standard and have met new friendly people.”


 “I have confidence, new friends, “me time” and FR got me through the lockdown.”


“My singing has improved along with my confidence. I love rehearsals on a Thursday. I always leave with a smile on my face and a warm glow in my heart; what else gives you that feeling of fabulous well-being?”


 “I’ve learned so much musically, become less introverted and expanded my circle of friends.”


If you’ve enjoyed reading this article, please join us for our next Love to Sing Workshop on 28th January at the Castle School in Thornbury. You can book through our website

Alternatively, why not come along to one of our Thursday night rehearsals to see if you might like to join us? You can find more details here. We’d love to see you.

If you’re interested in finding out more about barbershop singing, please contact us via our website. You can also follow Fascinating Rhythm on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram and follow The Bristol Mix on Facebook.

You might also like to see other articles in the Fascinating Rhythm Insight series:

01 – Why singing is good for you

02 – Making your performance authentic

03 – Performance through vocal expression

04 – Teamwork makes the dream work

05 – Why warm up?

06 – The new members’ guide to joining a choir during a pandemic!

07 – Breathing to Sing

08 – Junior FR: how it started/how it’s going

09 – Singing is a family affair

10 – How we choose convention songs

11 – Mixing it Up

Christmas Glitz comes to Weston super Mare

Christmas Glitz comes to Weston super Mare

Christmas Glitz comes to Weston super Mare

On Saturday, December 10th 2022, Fascinating Rhythm hosted a very successful Christmas Concert in aid of local charity Ups and Downs SouthWest at The Blakehay Theatre in Weston-super-Mare. 

Fascinating Rhythm performed a range of songs from their diverse repertoire to a very appreciative audience, from jazz classics, show tunes and pop songs, to Christmas carols (yes – with bells!) and many festive favourites. The choir was supported on stage by the small in-house group RhythmMix and home-grown quartets Ebb Tide and Specs Appeal, who all performed a show section and Christmas section.  

“What an incredible evening! This was our first full concert since before the pandemic, so it was such a joy to work on and perform the majority of our repertoire. We particularly enjoyed blowing the dust off our Christmas songs, and to be back under the spotlights and sing at the beautiful Blakehay Theatre was pure magic. I want to take this opportunity to thank everyone involved in making this such a special evening for an amazing cause, particularly the lovely ladies of Fascinating Rhythm who gave so much of themselves to put on this epic concert.”

Fascinating Rhythm’s musical director, Jo Thorn.

Audience members enjoyed the variety of songs and acts, many being in a theatre for the first time since 2019.

“Watching the Christmas concert performed by Fascinating Rhythm was such a joy. The musical genius behind every song showed in every chorus member, and the beautiful voices collated together to create an incredible sound. I would definitely recommend going to watch this chorus; they were vibrant, fun, mesmerising and just brilliant. The barbershop quartets also brought a little something new to the show. I’ve never seen or heard such a beautiful set. I will be watching them again, that’s for sure.” 

Shania Davies, a musical theatre graduate.

Several members of River City Chorus from Exeter came up to Weston Super Mare for the concert and reported;

“Fascinating Rhythm sang a wonderful, varied programme from old ballads to modern upbeat numbers, as well as a selection of carols and modern Christmas songs. 

Wonderful harmony singing put us in the mood for Christmas and inspired us to continue our ambition to be the best we can be.

Many thanks to Jo Thorn, the Music Director and the wonderful chorus.”

Fascinating Rhythm members voted Ups and Downs Southwest as their chosen charity for 2022 at their annual general meeting. Throughout the year, the chorus has participated in a number of fundraising activities to support Ups and Downs Southwest, which relies solely on charitable donations. During the show, three young people, who the charity has supported, joined the choir on the stage for a Makaton-signed performance of ‘This is Me’ from the musical, The Greatest Showman. The young people learned the signed choreography when they collaborated with Fascinating Rhythm in 2019 to produce a music video to raise awareness of Down’s Syndrome. The concert alone raised £1346.

“We feel so lucky to have had the support of Fascinating Rhythm this year. They have gone the extra mile to raise funds for Ups and Downs Southwest and our profile through their website and social media channels. With no statutory funding, we are solely reliant on public donations and grants, and every little bit really makes a difference to our families, children, and young people. The money raised by Fascinating Rhythm through the year will go directly towards our children and young people’s events, allowing us to create more opportunities to build up their skills, knowledge, and social networks”. 

The charity’s PR representative, Michelle Bull.

You can support Ups and Downs Southwest by donating via their website or participating in one of their fundraising initiatives.

There is nothing the members of Fascinating Rhythm love more than entertaining audiences and displaying our unique sound and beautiful harmonies. We look forward to sharing our enthusiasm for singing with aspiring singers at our Love to Sing workshop on January 28th 2023, and then taking to the stage again on February 18th alongside Go Vocal. Hope to see you there! 

To keep up to date with Fascinating Rhythm and other forthcoming events, follow our social media channels: FacebookInstagram and Twitter.

Junior FR co-star with The Femmes

Junior FR co-star with The Femmes

Junior FR co-star with The Femmes

Junior FR were delighted to perform at a glittering Christmas Concert alongside professional vocal trio The Femmes in Olveston on 3rd December.

The sell-out audience were delighted in the first half by The Femmes performing songs from the 40s to the 80s, including tributes to Dame Vera Lynn and the Andrew’s Sisters as well as songs from well-known musicals and Disney themes. 

Junior Fr followed in style with a gorgeous arrangement of the Lion King theme, I’m a Believer by the Monkees and a wonderfully visual performance of Count on Me with the girls performing Makaton signing. The second half was a musically-filled Christmas stocking of beautiful arrangements of Christmas songs and carols, with witty introductions from The Femmes and even some much-enjoyed audience choreography and participation!

Jo, Seanna, and Meg (The Femmes) met during their performing arts training in Guildford and were drawn together by their love of close-harmony singing. The Femmes were formed in 2014, and their very first performance was in St. Mary’s Church Olveston that year. They are now spread across the UK and travel widely to rehearse and perform, but they were delighted to come back to Jo’s home ground for this event. Jo (Sawyer), the daughter of Fascinating Rhythm’s long-standing Tenor, Jane Sawyer, gained her early musical experiences through Marlwood school, the Olveston Parish Players, North Avon Youth Theatre Company and, of course, hearing her mum practice and perform with Fascinating Rhythm!

“Sharing the stage with Junior FR was absolutely wonderful. The three of us all grew up taking part in choirs and performances, being part of harmony group singing, and now we’re doing it professionally, so to share the stage with the next generation felt like we’d come full circle. The girls took everything in their stride in a very professional way, and we really enjoyed their harmonies – such a lovely moment.”

Jo commented

“It was a complete joy to sing alongside The Femmes this evening, and I am sure all the girls have been completely inspired by hearing and seeing them perform. I am so proud of how the girls held their own and received a tremendous audience response to all their songs.”

Junior FR musical director Wendy.

“Amazed and delighted with a wide variety of well-performed songs from Junior FR” and that it was “A lovely performance from a large group of well-trained young people, who shared their love of singing with the audience”.  

Audience members.

A fabulous evening that sent everyone home uplifted and full of Christmas spirit (and not just thanks to the mulled wine!)

The next big event on Junior FR’s calendar is the Thornbury Eisteddfod, where they hope to enter several choir classes and encourage individuals to prepare both solos and duets to give the girls more performance opportunities which are so important to the development of their skills and self-esteem.

To keep up to date with our ‘big sister’ chorus, Fascinating Rhythm, and our forthcoming events, follow our social media channels: FacebookInstagram and Twitter.

Fascinating Rhythm joins local choirs for Big Bristol Barbershop Bonanza.

Fascinating Rhythm joins local choirs for Big Bristol Barbershop Bonanza.

Fascinating Rhythm joins local choirs for Big Bristol Barbershop Bonanza.

Fascinating Rhythm performed in an incredible evening of barbershop and a cappella singing on Saturday, 19 November 2022. They sang with singers from six other Bristol-based choruses at a concert held at the St Michaels Centre in Stoke Gifford

The Big Bristol Barbershop Bonanza was a celebration of the joy of singing, bringing together several of the region’s LABBS and BABS-affiliated choruses. Seven choruses in total provided a real showcase for the singing talent in the Bristol Area:  Avon HarmonyBlack Sheep HarmonyBristol A CappellaBristol FashionThe Great Western Chorus and The Bristol Mix.

Fascinating Rhythm performed three of the chorus members’ favourite numbers from their repertoire: the Doobie Brothers’ hit song ‘Listen To The Music’, Billy Joel’s ‘And So It Goes’ and pop song ‘Titanium’ by David Guetta.

The evening culminated in all the choruses coming together to form a mass choir of over 170 singers to sing Toto’s ‘Africa’. A resounding end to the event, which received a standing ovation from the very appreciative audience.

“This was such an incredible evening which has been a long time in the planning. Bringing all the Bristol choruses under one roof to simply enjoy each other’s singing is a priceless gift. We continue to support and celebrate each other, and this was so evident in the finale, 170 singers on stage under one roof delivering a raising rendition of Africa. We are immensely lucky to have so many talented singers and directors in Bristol – harmony at its finest.”

Fascinating Rhythm’s Musical Director Jo Thorn.

Fascinating Rhythm was delighted to be part of this memorable event. If you want to hear more about the event, check out the Harmony UK Podcast.

Fascinating Rhythm has two further public sing-outs planned later this year:

           Christmas Tree FestivalSt Mary’s Church Yate (3 December 2022)

           Christmas Concert in support of Ups and Downs SouthwestBlakehay Theatre Weston-super-Mare (10 December 2022) tickets are still available here.

To keep up to date with Fascinating Rhythm and other forthcoming events, follow our social media channels: FacebookInstagram and Twitter.

Fascinating Rhythm Chorus thrilled to attend LABBS Convention 2022

Fascinating Rhythm Chorus thrilled to attend LABBS Convention 2022

Fascinating Rhythm Chorus thrilled to attend LABBS Convention 2022

Fascinating Rhythm enjoyed a jubilant weekend at the Ladies Association of British Barbershop Singers (LABBS) annual convention at the Bournemouth International Centre from 28-30 October 2022.

Fascinating Rhythm sang a package of two contrasting songs, originally from Broadway musicals, re-arranged in the traditional barbershop style. They opened their set with the heartfelt ballad ‘All The Things You Are‘ written by Oscar Hammerstein and Jerome Kern for Very Warm For May, skillfully arranged by Liz Garnett, and the humorous Cole Porter number ‘Let’s Do It (Let’s Fall In Love)‘ from Paris

Listen here

Fascinating Rhythm chorus members were excited to be able to compete in this heavily contested competition after we had weathered the storm of Covid-19 and the long three-year wait. The choir felt this was a year to set a new benchmark, particularly as they have enhanced their singing skills through working with the Barbershop coaching legend Rob Mance.  

Fascinating Rhythm maintained its position within the top ten of national LABBS choruses, finishing in 8th place. The three-year break in the LABBS conventions meant that all choruses could compete, which resulted in intense competition to a very high standard.  

“what an absolute thrill to be back on the convention stage. Those 10 minutes go so quickly, but they form part of an incredible learning journey, laughing and hard work in the preceding months. It was such a joy to catch up with all our sister choruses, watch their incredible performances and rejoice that despite the trials and tribulations that the pandemic placed on us all, we have all come back with a stronger song in our hearts”.

Jo Thorn, Fascinating Rhythm’s Musical Director

Fascinating Rhythm competed alongside local choir Bristol Fashion and was honoured to witness the comedy highlight “The Ballard of Barry and Freda (Let’s Do It)” from Black Sheep Harmony.

Fascinating Rhythm was pleased to have five new members join us for their first convention experience, and they said, “it was a great experience, and they felt very well looked after”.

Fascinating Rhythm ladies who are also members of The Bristol Mix (a regional mixed-voice chorus) had another opportunity to cross the convention stage when they sang in the Sunday morning show. They performed “Wouldn’t It Be Nice”, “What Kind Of Fool Am I?”, “You’re From Heaven And You’re Mine” under the direction of Craig Kehoe and Linda Corcoran.

Fascinating Rhythm congratulates all the choruses who competed, especially those who won trophies at this year’s convention, particularly the gold-medal winners, The White Rosettes and In-house quartet.

To keep up to date with Fascinating Rhythm and our forthcoming events, including two concerts later this year, follow our social media channels: FacebookInstagram and Twitter.

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