A joyous celebration of singing!
Having put so much energy into campaigning for a return for non-professional choirs over the past few months, it was Project Get Singing’s great privilege to bring fifteen choirs together for a wonderful weekend of singing.
‘Choirs at the Tower’ brought the choirs into the grounds of the Tower of London to entertain the visiting public on a busy summer’s weekend. It was particularly special to think that this provided many of the choirs with their first opportunity to perform since the start of the pandemic, and the joy on the singers’ faces as they assembled to sing was a sight to behold.
Three performing areas had been assigned, one at the Gun Wharf by the River Thames, one on the grass of the Moat on the West Side of the grounds, and one on the East Side of the White Tower itself. The choirs performed half hour sets at each of these stations, rotating through the day as the sightseers came and went.
The visitors were treated to a wide array of styles and genres through their day, each choir bringing something different and interesting to the experience. There was a real sense of sharing and collaboration through the weekend, with every choir grateful to be back where they belong, sharing the music they love with each other and their listeners. Choirs waiting to sing would enthusiastically support the choir singing before them, new connections forming organically in the brief conversations that took place as singers moved between their singing stations or chatted in the ‘Green Room’.
The weather was changeable to say the least, but this was just another show of commitment to the cause from the singers, keeping going through heavy showers only to find that the sun had come out and they had pretty much dried off by the end of their set! Some singers using iPads had to peer through the raindrops on their screens to pick out the notes in more complex repertoire. Others got absolutely soaked by a deluge that made a soggy, but happy end to Sunday’s singing.
In conversation with some of the choir leaders the day after the event, there were two or three stories that stood out. One was the natural collaboration that two choirs formed at the crossover of their sets. Filament Chorus had been following London Humanist Choir through the day, and at the end of their last set, the director of London Humanist Choir invited the Filament Chorus to join them in their last song, ‘Lovely Day’. The Filament Chorus then reciprocated by inviting the London Humanist Choir, who had stayed on to listen, to join them for their final song.
On Saturday, the Riverside Consort, a small group singing madrigals and sacred music from the time of King Henry VIII to Elizabeth I were singing a more sombre piece when a family with a young son walked past. The boy stopped in thrall at the singing, and when fetched by his mother, he pulled away for another listen. Similarly, on Sunday, another boy was heard to call out ‘That was fantastic!’ after the Andover Ladies’ Choir finished their Les Misérables medley.
Of course, events like these do not just happen. The choirs that took part are all indebted to Project Get Singing’s Mel Field and Naveen Arles for the hours of work put in to liaising with the Tower of London team to make everything flow as smoothly as it did. They were aided on the day by a fabulous team of helpers, enabling the weekend to flow as smoothly as it did. And Project Get Singing are enormously grateful to the Tower of London for hosting the event, and making everyone feel so welcome on the day.
Project Get Singing is all about bringing people together to share their love of singing, and highlight its health- and well-being benefits. We would therefore like to thank the leaders and members of Andover Ladies Choir, Close Harmonix, The Cluedo Ensemble, Filament Chorus, Garden Choir, Harmony One, London City Voices, London Humanist Choir, London International Gospel Choir, Love Soul Choir, Natural Voices, The Paragon Ensemble, Popchoir, Real Voices and the Riverside Consort for giving up their time to make ‘Choirs at the Tower’ what it was: a wonderful celebration of singing.