Harmony Unleashed: A Night of Musical Splendour with Avon Harmony, Black Sheep Harmony, Bristol Fashion, and Fascinating Rhythm.
Hosting the LABBS Bristol choruses meetup on Thursday, 9th November, at the Greenfield Centre in Winterbourne, our rehearsal home, was an absolute pleasure.
We welcomed local choruses Avon Harmony, Bristol Fashion, and Black Sheep Harmony and were delighted to give Natalie Feddon, the immediate past chair of Labbs, the opportunity to talk to us all together.
It was so lovely to spend an evening of harmony with everyone, and it was such an entertaining evening and an inspiration to hear the songs everyone has been working on recently.
The evening kicked off with warm-ups held by each MD or acting MD. Jo Thorn, our director, led us through some physical body warm-ups and then a vocal exercise. Mary Williams, MD of Avon Harmony, had us singing about Alfred the Alligator, Pete Nugent, MD of Black Sheep Harmony, brought back ‘Inch Worm’, an old favourite, and we sang ‘Black Socks’ with Caroline Bamford, Deputy MD for Bristol Fashion.
With our voices and bodies ready to perform, Avon Harmony took to the stage first and gave us ‘California Dreamin’ by the Mamas and the Papas, followed by Queen’s ‘Don’t Stop Me Now’, and they set the stage for an evening of musical brilliance.
Black Sheep Harmony gave us a mesmerising rendition of ‘White Winter Hymnal’ by Fleet Foxes, involving some impressive body percussion demonstrated HERE by Pentatonix. They followed this with a great Abba medley, which got us all tapping our feet and swaying in our seats.
Before the break, Natalie gave a brief and impactful presentation emphasising LABBS’s commitment to engaging with its members. She shared insights into the organisation’s forward-looking initiatives, urging members to review recent articles ahead of the Council meeting in November.
It was then time for a cuppa, a biscuit, and a chance to catch up and mingle.
After the break, we were treated to Bristol Fashion’s performance of Jess Glynne’s ‘Hold My Hand’, followed by their recent convention 7th place up-tempo ‘You’ll Never Go Wrong With a Song’, and they had a blast doing it.
It was then our turn to sing, and we were delighted to perform ‘Hallelujah’ by Leonard Cohen, a song we’ve been working very hard on lately. And finally, to end the show, we sang David Guetta’s song about inner strength, ‘Titanium’.
The diverse repertoire of all four choruses showcased the range and creativity of barbershop singing.
We all came together to round off the evening with a mass sing of the LABBS polecat ‘Anthem’ from the musical Chess – showcasing the power of unity in creating a breathtaking musical moment which you can watch HERE.
Some quotes from the evening:
“A great evening spent with our sisters in song. Bristol is a hotbed of Barbershop, and we love spending the evening with our friends in harmony.“Pete Nugent
“It’s fabulous for the LABBS choruses to get together as a celebration of what we do. Avon Harmony is still buzzing about the event, and they can’t wait until we organise another one.”Mary Williams.
‘It’s always wonderful to meet up with other barbershop choruses in Bristol as we share our love and joy for this music! As Craig was busy at work that evening, I was given the honour of directing the Bristol Fashion Chorus. Something I always relish doing. Thanks so much, FR, for organising and hosting such an enjoyable evening!”Caroline Bamford.
“The Bristol area is abundant with Barbershop talent and the wonderful sense of community that comes with our hobby; we are incredibly lucky to have this in our lives, and evenings like this really bring it home.”Jo Thorn.
The night provided a testament to the strength and unity found in the shared love of barbershop singing.
On Retreat with Rob!
Things kicked off with Rob at our usual Thursday evening rehearsal with his continued support with Personal Voice Instruction (PVI) for new members Sally and Sue (both baritones) and Lisa, our new tenor. When you’re a new chorus member, singing and being given your own PVI in front of the full chorus is a bit nerve-wracking, to say the least – I know – I’ve done it! Yet, despite some initial nerves, the ladies followed Rob’s guidance on posture and head position, resulting in a fuller, more resonant tone all round!
Rob introduced the whole chorus to some new techniques to relax the tongue, wiggling it side-to-side to help release tension in the tongue. He also did some useful vowel sound work with “Hallelujah” (Leonard Cohen)- pointing out the impact on a chorus of people with different accents on the overall sound quality. Once we agreed on the vowel sounds and practiced, we noticed a brighter, fuller sound.
Our retreat started properly on Friday 16th September – with the majority of us assembling at the Alexandra House Hotel for an evening of fun, games and song. Sharon Marshfield organised a fantastic fun musical quiz/bingo called FRingo, which was very entertaining.
We got off to an early start on Saturday, with Rob working with each section on “Hallelujah”. He covered a variety of techniques, from adjusting head positions to give a longer back of neck to practicing “ha” and ‘le”, to bubbling to working on the vowel placement. Two new techniques he introduced were to help relax the tongue by pushing it back hard with the tip of a finger and pinning it to our chin. Some hilarity ensued as we looked a bit silly – but we agreed we could hear a positive, brighter tone to our sound after practicing this a few times.
After a hard morning’s work on these techniques, putting the parts together, Rob said it was “ringy-dingy and delicious!”
We went on to do work on our individual interpretation of one of our newer songs, “I Wish You Love” by Nat King Cole. In discussing the different ways chorus members interpreted it, we agreed we need to be unified on the arc of the story and the arc of the emotion.
After a focused and enjoyable day’s work, we partied that evening, and as ever, the prolific talent that FR holds was displayed. We heard solo songs from Amy Ford and Iris O’Loughlin, a fun selection of performances from the Bass and Bari sections and a hilarious adaptation from the Leads of the Beatles “When I’m 64” with the new title line “Singing through a Straw!” As the newest member of RhythmMix. Our smaller group, I was delighted to have the chance of a sing-out of our newest song, “Somewhere Out There”, from the Universal Pictures film “An American Tale”, which was well-received.
Sunday started with more vowel work on our chorus version of “Anything Goes” by Cole Porter. Again, Rob pronounced our singing “delicious” and said the Lead section was producing the best pitch he’s heard yet – so the Leads ended the day on a real high! (I’m sure we all did – and Rob did say his brain was “being blown” by the bass section’s progress, too!).
Rob also gave some musical direction coaching to our MD Jo Thorn, including work on the ictus point and said he’s taught it to many, but no one has ‘got it’ as quickly as Jo!
He had the Tenor section joyfully strolling around the room, singing as they went to help with tension in the body, telling them to keep the body “loosey-goosey”.
We did lots of work on diphthongs, and I learned a new word – “schwa”, which is the most common vowel sound in the English language – an unaccented, neutral vowel sound. We did more exploratory work on meaning, this time with “Hallelujah”, and did lots of work on these sounds and how Jo could help direct us – and, as ever, the importance of following Jo’s direction to ensure our best, most unified sound was clear.
More work on bubbling ensued (oh, I find it hard!) and putting all the techniques we’d learned together over the weekend, we returned to the risers and created a perfect storm – our sound was emotional and authentic. Our performance of Hallelujah brought many of us to tears. We explored how being able to bring our own emotions into the song meant, for some, it was coming from a real place.
As our weekend came to a close, it was clear this investment in our craft was paying dividends. The ability to bring deep feeling and connection into our performance is so important. It will have a more significant impact – an audience will always remember how you made them feel. By creating deeper emotional connections with the harmonies and the words, we hope to touch our listeners more deeply going forward!
By Julie Macnamara
Harmonious Finds – Fascinating Rhythm Delivers Crafts, Gifts, and Melodies: A Well-Attended Sale Delight
Fascinating Rhythm created a wonderful event in the bustling town of Chipping Sodbury on Saturday 21st October 2023. The event brought residents together in a delightful celebration of artistry, craft, generosity, and music. The highly anticipated craft, gift, and pre-loved items sale was a resounding success.
Visitors were greeted by a colourful array of handcrafted treasures, thoughtful gifts, beauty products and pre-loved items.
The event provided a showcase of local talent and creativity. Artisans displayed their wares, including meticulously sculpted pottery, fused glass, handmade Halloween wreaths, hand-painted cards, paintings and intricately woven textile items.
It was the infusion of melodious entertainment that truly set the sale apart from others, with fabulous singing performances from the very accomplished Junior FR, Fascinating Rhythm and the recently formed Quartet Neptune.
The selection of tantalising cakes and a wide range of refreshments was exceptional and certainly enticed a steady crowd of hungry shoppers.
“What a fantastic day! This was more than just a shopping event, we wanted to bring together people and creativity, we hope we brought a bit of joy to Chipping Sodbury.”Jo Thorn, Fascinating Rhythm’s musical director
This heartwarming event provided some much-welcomed funds to help Fascinating Rhythm continue finding fantastic music to sing and to help all members attend competitions and events.
Fascinating Rhythm is a singer-driven chorus based locally at the Greenfield Centre in Winterbourne. If you would more information, please contact us via our website at https://fascinating-rhythm.com/contact-us-fascinating-rhythm/
Fascinating Rhythm have a blast in Bournemouth
Fascinating Rhythm were on the road again on 1st July, travelling down from South Gloucestershire to the Bournemouth Music Festival to compete in two of the singing classes, which were staged in the lovely church of St Andrews, Richmond Hill. We entered two contrasting pieces – “Anthem” and “Titanium” in the “Single-voice class and “All The Things You Are” and “Anything Goes” in the Barbershop class.
Following a recent weekend of intensive coaching with Rob Mance (our Vocal Coach), we worked hard to perfect our four songs, continuing this time with a focus on pitch and breathing. We incorporated all the tips and advice he gave us earlier in the year, from individual voice instructions to using the TE Tuner app and singing through straws, as well as working to ensure clear vowel and aspirate sounds.
So, we were absolutely ready to put all this into action!
We had the wonderful opportunity to do our warm-up and pre-rehearsal in the beautiful St Peter’s Church and even had a few visitors who stayed to listen as we went through our paces.
Musical Director Jo Thorn said, “Our final preparations have been outstanding, and the hard work that each and every one of us have put in should be richly rewarded”.
We were very sad that our Deputy MD, Wendy Howse, who coaches and directs ‘Anthem’ with us and would have been directing in a competition for the first time, was, at short notice, unable to be with us. We know she was certainly there in spirit.
At 2:15 p.m., the stage was set for the afternoon classes at St Andrew’s, and we watched some of the earlier choirs with great delight and a little nervous anticipation!
Then it was our turn! We enjoyed our performance in our first class and hoped we did Wendy proud with Anthem, the well-known and heartfelt ballad from the musical “Chess” written by Tim Rice, Benny Anderson, and Bjorn Ulvaeus. Our second song, Titanium, a haunting and rhythmic song written by David Guetta and performed by Sia, was well-received, and we were delighted with our rendition.
The second class saw us giving our all, first with the beautiful All The Things You Are, by Jerome Kern and Oscar Hammerstein II, followed by a recent addition to our repertoire, our modernised version of Anything Goes, by Cole Porter from the musical of the same name. This was our first public performance of the song, and we were delighted with the audience’s reception as one of our members, Kitty Davies had collaborated with MD Jo Thorn to adapt the lyrics with humour and relevance to the modern day.
Imagine our delight when our hard work following the LABBS Convention last year was rewarded with distinctions for all four songs, with us coming second in both classes. We had excellent feedback from the judges. In Anthem – “the melodic lines were well shaped with colourful dynamics”, and Titanium – “maintained rhythmic precision throughout – percussive consonants gave drive to the music and rhythms”.
The assessment of All the Things You Are said our “diction was crisp and poised, and consonants were well managed”, and for Anything Goes – “the music moved rhythmically, there was precise articulation – and the new words were great!”.
All in all, we had a fabulous day. Jo said, “I’m so proud of you all. You did everything with distinction today!”
She added, “It’s so amazing to hear all this positive feedback and the recognition and acknowledgement of our hard work”.
She continued, “All the work that Wendy (Howse) has done with you on “Anthem” was there in spades and commented on – I know she will be so very proud of you all”.
Jo concluded, “It’s a privilege to lead a group of such amazing, inspirational and dedicated women – onward and upward, here’s to the next time!”
Fascinating Rhythm with Jo Thorn, MD, celebrating their distinctions and second place in two classes at the Bournemouth Music Festival.
JFR Top The Year Off With Jam And Cream!
Afternoon tea with scones, tea, and biscuits was served by the volunteer staff in glorious sunshine before Wendy reviewed the hectic and successful year since last September, which began with four new members of staff (Carole and Julie from FR; plus parent helpers Anna and Laura) and three new girls (Natalie, Beth and Juliette).
Events during the year have included a jam-packed first term performing first at the Tockington fair in September (including a collaboration with the local Brownies);
the fantastic joint concert with The Femmes in December, and entertaining outside in the freezing cold at Watermore Primary Christmas Fair. These events included revisiting some older repertoire and introducing some challenging choreography and Makaton signs.
Spring term is always dominated by preparing for the Thornbury Eisteddfod, and Di (from FR) was welcomed to the staff team and her granddaughter Elsie to the choir. The larger staff team has allowed the exploration of partner songs and some harmony in the junior section (with Di, Ali, Anna, and Laura) and for the seniors to continue honing their three-part close-harmony skills (with Chloe, Julie, and Carole). Wendy was able to split her rehearsal time between both groups to drive performance and singing craft.
This was all very evident to see and hear in the performances on competition day in March and in the very high scores achieved by both groups. Ten girls also took part in various classes singing solos, duets, and trios, with cups being awarded for outstanding performances to Natalie (show songs); Caitlin (Musical Theatre); Evie (Folk Songs); Amelie and Lily (Duet).
JFR as a club was also awarded a special cup for its consistently high standard and valuable contribution to the Eisteddfod and local music community year after year.
Fabulous new songs were added to the repertoire in ‘Girls Just Wanna Have Fun’ and ‘Could it Be Magic’. Wendy thanked her whole team for their dedication and hard work in helping to make this year happen, including Kitty, who continues to support JFR at events and by creating teach tracks and writing PR articles.
While the cream teas were enjoyed, the parents were entertained by some remarkable performances from some of the girls, and then some annual awards were made as voted for by girls, staff and MD. Congratulations to Jasmine for Most Improved, Lucy for the Helpers Award, Natalie for Junior Role Model, Amelie for Senior Role Model, and Anna for the MD Award. All these awards celebrated kindness, helpfulness and dedication, which are core values for Junior FR.
Some fabulous long service awards were made this year, too – five-year badges for Olivia and Evie, who joined in 2018, and two more very special members joined Wendy and Kitty in the ‘ten-year club’ – mum and daughter team Chloe (staff) and Anna who both joined in 2013. Wendy thanked all the staff, particularly Chloe, who has stepped up to deputise when needed and to be an invaluable right-hand woman. Sad goodbyes and thankyous were made to Laura and to almost ten-year member Izzy, who leaves to attend sixth form college.
Final performances of Girls Just Wanna Have Fun and Could it be Magic sent everyone home with a smile on their face (but hopefully no jam and cream!), and all are looking forward to returning in September for another year of JFR that is full of fun, harmony, friendship and laughter (and maybe even a familiar face/voice?!)
by Kitty Davies
Our Fundraising for St Peters Hospice
Bouncing like Bunnies for St. Peter’s Hospice
On April 3rd this year, one hundred and twenty babies and children laughed, sang, and bounced like bunnies at the Easter parties held in Iron Acton Village Hall. Anne-marie Collier has enthusiastically run these wonderful Music with Mummy and Jolly Babies classes for many years. Since joining Fascinating Rhythm, she has offered us the opportunity to run refreshments for the families, raising money for our Charity of the Year.
A small team from Fascinating Rhythm (Susie, Kitty and Wendy) and Junior FR (Lily and Layla) displayed and served all the delicious cakes Fascinating Rhythm members and class parents donated, making countless cups of tea and coffee during the day. The cake was eaten, eggs were hunted, crumbs were hoovered (!), the raffle was drawn, and prizes were won. Most exciting, over £400 was raised for the most worthy cause, St Peter’s Hospice, which supports families in the South West managing a terminal illness.
Our thanks to Anne-marie, and we look forward to your support at further events this year, where we hope to raise even more for this wonderful local charity.
“My Music with Mummy families all had such a great day at Iron Acton – what is not to love about music, chocolate and cake!
Thanks to our FR and JFR helpers who made the day even more special – I was so very grateful for their help and delighted we raised so much money.” Anne-marie Collier
Written by Kitty Davies
RhythmMix Make Music & Sell Cakes
Rhythmix, the small chorus from Fascinating Rhythm with support from Fascinating Rhythm members, ran a very successful fundraiser at Wotton Teas at the Town Hall in Wotton-under-Edge on April 16th, raising funds for their charity of the year St Peter’s Hospice.
As well as a wonderful array of delicious homemade cakes made by Fascinating Rhythm members, RhythmMix performed a few songs from their repertoire to help things go with a swing.
Throughout the afternoon, there was a steady stream of visitors, including passersby, a local walking group and regulars who know where to find tasty homemade cakes on a Sunday in Wotton! The group were pleased to welcome quite a few ladies who had joined them at Fascinating Rhythm’s ‘Love to Sing’ day in January. The day’s workshop is run yearly to introduce new ladies to Barbershop singing and encourage new members.
Julie Macnamara, RhythmMix’s newest member, said:
“This was my first sing-out with RhythmMix, so I was excited and a little nervous. I was surprised and thrilled to see so many locals coming along for a cuppa and cake and to hear us sing.”
“As we were singing “Feelin’ Good” the song Fascinating Rhythm used for their “Love to Sing” day in January, several friends who took part arrived – it was perfect timing – they were smiling from ear to ear and singing along as they queued for their cakes!”
The cake and song kept flowing with ‘Sweet Dreams’, one of the group’s newer songs and old favourites like ‘Anthem’ from the musical Chess and ‘We go together’ from the musical Grease.
The afternoon flew by and the icing on the cake – almost £400 raised for St Peter’s Hospice!
Written by Julie Macnamara
RhythmMix Sing for Street Collection Day
What better way to spend a bright, sunny Saturday morning than being with friends, entertaining local shoppers and raising money for our Charity of the Year, St. Peter’s Hospice?!
RhythmMix (with a bit of help from their friends) stepped in for FR in supporting the charity by singing in front of the Yate shop for over an hour on Saturday, June 10th and encouraged people to donate and visit the shop. Brenda, Ali, Joan, Jan, Angela, Vanessa and Barbara, with Carol, Suzi and Kitty, received great feedback from passersby and those relaxing in Wetherspoons nearby. Despite competition from lawn mowing, traffic, and the challenges of singing outdoors, we had a lot of fun and raised £130.
Written by Kitty Davies
PHOTO Yate Street collection June 10th
Mance’s 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.
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!
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.
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!
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
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!