What kind of choir is Victoria Park Singers?
We are a non-auditioned, community choir including people from all age groups and different levels of experience. We meet on Wednesday nights to rehearse in a local primary school, Lauriston School in East London. Our members are aged from mid 20s to mid 70s and live/work in and around Hackney and Tower Hamlets.
When was Victoria Park Singers founded?
Our first rehearsal was in April 2013. In that first term we had 50 members. By April 2015, we were 100-strong.
What inspired Hannah to start the choir?
Hannah Brine started the choir in 2013, having just moved to the area from Leicester. She didn’t know at that point quite how big and wonderful the choir would grow!
What mix of voices do you have?
The women’s parts are split into soprano, the highest vocal range, and alto, for a lower voice. For some of our more complex pieces, these two groups are split into two again. The men’s section is split into basses and tenors, the tenors having the higher range.
Where have you performed?
In December 2016 we were very lucky that 20 ladies from the choir performed at the Royal Variety show, at Hammersmith Apollo as part of the choir backing Gary Barlow and in 2017 30 ladies performed with Gary at the Royal Albert Hall for the opening of the Olivier Awards 2017. Other venues include Union Chapel, Rich Mix Bethnal Green, St John at Hackney, St Joseph’s Hospice, St John of Jerusalem, in Hackney village, Trafalgar Square, the Southbank Centre, St Mary’s Bow Church, The Royal Inn on the Park, the Idea Stores in Poplar and Whitechapel, Victoria Park Band Stand for the Big Gig, Roman Road Festival, St John’s Holland Park for the Sangestevne International Choral Festival, the Bridge Academy & St Giles-in-the-Fields.
What kind of music do you sing?
We have a multicultural choir and have sung in various languages, from French to Zulu, Spanish, Portuguese, Czech and Latin. We sing everything! From classical to pop, folk, gospel to musical theatre and world.
Is this Hannah’s first choir?
Hannah started her first choir in 2007 when she launched Fosse Singers in Leicester. In 2011 she started Kensington Singers in West London and traveled down weekly to run their rehearsals on Monday evenings. She studied with the Association of British Choral Conductors and holds an LRSM distinction in choral conducting. You can read more about her here.
Which charities have you raised money for?
We have raised over £11,000 for charities including locally the Bow Food Bank (its founder is Chris Rawlins, one of our tenors), Ingeenium (its founder Jessica Boatright is one of our sopranos), St Joseph’s Hospice (some of our members volunteer there), Hackney Food Bank and nationally Water Aid, Amnesty International, Mental Health Foundation and Unicef.
- Provide professional performance opportunities – The summer concert in 2015 was accompanied by a jazz trio and our programme featured award winning jazz singer Anita Wardell as special guest. The summer concert in 2016 was accompanied by a full big band and featured soprano Nina Bennet.
- Be a spring board for further musical learning – Some choir members have been on courses to learn about conducting and have been involved with Old Vic New Voices.
- Generate local links – We have collaborated with Hackney Wick FC, Hackney Speakers Festival, St Joseph’s Hospice and Ingeenium.
- Bring in professionals – Recently Neil Ferris came in as a guest conductor, Will Todd led a workshop on the Mass in Blue, Hannah Northedge has given us a vocal technique workshop, Anita Wardell delivered a jazz workshop and Ken Burton gave a gospel workshop.
- Utilise and empower choir members’ other skills – Cake decorating, illustration for choir posters, organisational skills, fundraising for concerts etc.
Benefits of singing in a choir:
- Proven health benefits of group singing, better posture, breathing, release of endorphins, team work, social benefits etc
- Improve musicianship / vocal skills.
- Learning new skills helps fight off depression.
- Networking – members sponsor each other for runs, help each other find flat shares, find instrumental tuition locally, recommend hair dressers, volunteer at each others events, attend each others non VPS performances etc.
- Able to contribute to society