I’m very pleased and proud to be the Producer of this year’s Voices Now Festival at the Roundhouse in Camden. This year’s event is on between 20th and 23rd June and as ever the festival aims to bring together the very best of all kinds of group singing under the legendary roof of the Roundhouse.
We have such a range of choirs and singing groups involved that I’m sure we’ll succeed in that ambition. Not only do we have the world famous Hilliard Ensemble performing and currently working with us to mentor 3 new singing groups of young singers but we also have performances and workshops from Only Men Aloud off the telly!
If you like choirs and possibly if you don’t – there will be something during the weekend that you’ll love. I always enjoy the Making Music Open stage where choirs of different kinds get to perform in the foyer spaces at the Roundhouse. This year we have youth choirs, ladies barbershop choirs, male voice choirs, gospel choirs, small consorts and huge community choruses and everything in between!
There are going to be quite a number of male voice groups performing on the Saturday of the weekend as we have themed the day around men and boys singing. So Only Men Aloud, the London Gay Men’s Chorus, the City Shanty Band, The Magnificent AK47s, Eschoir and Capital Chorus are amongst some of the male singing groups you can treat yourself to!
We also have an amazing new piece being written by Eriks Esenvalds featuring Imogen Heap.. but I feel that’s probably the subject of a whole blog post all on its own…
For more information about Voices Now go to www.voicesnow.org.uk or follow us on Twitter @voicesnow
Benjamin Britten 1913 – 1976
I’ve been very excited since last Thursday.
Thursday 22nd November 2012 marked the beginning of a year of amazing musical events to celebrate the Britten Centenary up to what would have been his 100th Birthday on 22nd November 2013.
There are massive celebrations under the Britten 100 banner that covers all the events happening across the world during the next year and Birmingham has it’s own festival called Birmingham Britten. There will be performances of Peter Grimes on Aldeburgh beach and all sort of special one off events that I am hoping I can get to.
As a massive fan of Britten – he is partly responsible for my passion for choirs – I have been waiting for 2013 for years. I have been planning Notorious’s Festival of Britten for as long as I can remember and we have some amazing projects coming up.
My 2013 starts with me singing with Ex Cathedra in A Boy was Born at Birmingham Town Hall on Saturday 12th January. A Boy was Born is one of my earliest choir members when I sang in a performance in Coventry Cathedral. It is am amazing a cappella work and quite difficult to sing – I can’t wait even for the rehearsals it is such an amazing piece of music.
With Notorious we have cooked up a year of exciting projects starting with a performance of Britten’s cabaret songs on 24th March 2013 at the Kings Head pub in Bearwood.
Then we are hoping to commission a new piece of music for a very special piece inspired by Britten (more on that later!) then we finish our celebrations with a Benjamin Britten Birthday Party concert at St Paul’s Church in Hockley on 22nd November 2013. We will be singing my favourite Britten piece – Rejoice in the Lamb alongside other classics like St Nicolas and the beautiful Hymn to St Cecilia. Continue reading
Posted in Events, Music, Singing
Tagged A boy was born, aldeburgh, benjamin britten, britten 100, Choirs, Clare Edwards, Ex Cathedra, notorious, notorious choir, Peter Grimes, St Paul's Church, The Kings Head
The Flyover Show 2012
The Flyover Show 2012 was our biggest and best yet. I have been running the show for 5 years with Artistic Director Soweto Kinch and in that time we have seen some amazing musicians under Hockley Flyover, from Ms Dynamite, Tumi, Julian Joseph, Eska, Akala and this year Maxi Priest and Wordsworth from the US.
The build up to this year was amazing – we created a new website for the show and it seemed to make a huge difference as we began to do the on the street marketing it became apparent that people knew about the show and were looking forward to it.
The day itself was really enjoyable too. For me highlights started early in the day when dancers from Birmingham Royal Ballet performed under the flyover. Their dance was so beautiful and the reaction from the crowd moved me to tears.
Birmingham Royal Ballet – photo credit Karl Dixon
There were so many talented and great performers on the line up that day that the crowds were enthralled and the atmosphere maintained throughout the day. In particular Wordsworth MC who flew over from the US was particularly good and he had a great rapport with the crowd even jumping into the crowd and serenading members of the public.
Wordsworth in the Crowd – photo credit Karl Dixon
By the time the sun had gone down the area underneath the Flyover was practically full and Maxi Priest performed to a capacity crowd.
Maxi Priest – photo credit Rob Gilbert
Posted in Events, Music, The Flyover Show
Tagged 18th August 2012, Basil Gabbidon, Birmingham, Birmingham Royal Ballet, Clare Edwards, Ed King, Hip Hop, Hockley Flyover, Jazz, Mark Sampson, Maxi Priest, rebel uncut, soweto kinch, the flyover show, Wordsworth
Simmer Down Crowd 2012
One of my favourite days of the year is becoming The Simmer Down Festival in Handsworth Park and this year’s event on Sunday 22nd July 2012 was no exception. I run the day with The Drum who artistically direct the event and Perry Barr Arts Forum who helped develop the event originally and still pull together every year to involve the local community in the event through workshops and other activity.
This is the fourth year I’ve worked on this event and it just keeps getting bigger and is becoming a key event for local people and reggae fans in the city.
This year we had our biggest headline act yet- ASWAD and we were also really lucky to have a glorious day of sunshine in a summer that was generally very wet and miserable. We had a record turnout with approximately 8000 people in the park that day. The smell of jerk chicken in the hot summer air and the sound of reggae from the stage and the sea of smiling faces made my 17 hour day as enjoyable as it was tiring!
Posted in Events, Music, Simmer Down
Tagged Aswad, Birmingham, Clare Edwards, Handsworth Park, Jerk Chicken, Mukhtar Dar, Perry Barr Arts Forum, Simmer Down Festival, The Drum, Urban Audio Productions
The final week before The Flyover Show in South Africa in March 2012 was full of workshops in schools, interviews with press and media and then, three days before the show the stage build began. Here is an amazing time-lapse video filmed by the team at Rebel Uncut who sponsored the show by coming to South Africa with us and filming the entire show and the build up to the show:
Posted in Events, Music, South Africa, The Flyover Show
Tagged Clare Edwards, freedom square, julia higginbottom, nat higginbottom, rebel uncut, south africa, soweto, soweto kinch, the flyover show
The opportunity to run The Flyover Show in South Africa was a life changing one. I was lucky enough to get sponsorship from The Soweto Hotel in Freedom Square so that I could go out to South Africa two weeks before the show in March 2012 to make sure that all the last minute preparation was done.
There was lots to do. Final licenses had to be sought, last minute negotiations on equipment and catering to sort out, interesting early morning phone calls from the local police yet more meetings! For the first week I was in South Africa I was on my own but I was accompanied by Booysie Khanyile who helped with with preparations and drove me to all the meetings I needed to attend (if you ever go to Johannesburg and need an excellent tour guide – he’s your man!)
The local British Council and Booysie helped me set up a series of workshops in local schools for Soweto Kinch and the other musicians to lead in the run up to the show. Here is a video from one of the schools workshops:
Posted in Events, Music, South Africa, The Flyover Show
Tagged booysie khanyile, Clare Edwards, johannesburg, south africa, soweto, soweto kinch, the british council, the flyover show, the soweto hotel
During January 2012 I spent a week in South Africa planning a special Flyover Show in Johannesburg, South Africa. Soweto Kinch had previously been to South Africa to find potential venues and meet artists and it was my job to take all those ideas and make the event happen. We already had support from The British Council in place but no other firm plans.
This initial visit was intense with a series of meetings every day to meet potential technical companies, PR companies and other partners and service providers. We were greeted with a huge amount of enthusiasm for the project and it soon became clear that a venue in Soweto called ‘Freedom Square’ was going to be the best place to do the show and that there were a number of very good partners and suppliers to choose from.
Freedom Square in Soweto, Johannesburg
Well I’m officially following my marathon training schedule now. I’ve brushed off my running shoes, stopped buying wine and started pounding the streets.
Yes – I’m hoping to run the London Marathon on 22nd April 2012. I have a place and I have an organisation to support. I am, of course, running to raise sponsorship for the wonderful Sound It Out Community Music who are in my opinion one of the best arts organisations in the West Midlands. Shame the Arts Council didn’t see it like that when they did their review of National Portfolio Organisations – but I have followed the work of the team since they were told they would lose their regular funding – and I have to say I’m impressed.
Matt and the team have pulled out all the fundraising stops and brought in new money from place like The Big Lottery Reaching Communities Programme.
I have a particular soft spot for the personal crusade of Nicola Briggs who took it upon herself to set up the Tamperine project. She is getting famous people to support Sound It Out by signing and ‘tampering’ with a tambourine which will be auctioned off to support the work of Sound It Out. She’s had quite some success so far with names like Ricky Gervais, Judy Dench, Kylie Minogue and Bill Bailey (where are all the famous Brummies I ask myself?).
If you know someone famous – or fancy paying lots of money for a Tamperine – look here to see how you can get involved!
So, in my small way running the London Marathon is my way to not just raise some money – but also make some noise about this wonderful organisation that changes people’s lives with its projects.
I’m not doing very well on the sponsorship front – I need to see those pounds go up so I can be motivated to shed a few pounds of another kind and keep the training going…. So *anything* you can spare however small would be great.
Posted in Being Helpful
Tagged Arts Council, Bill Bailey, Clare Edwards, Judy Dench, Kylie Minogue, London Marathon, London Virgin Marathon, Ricky Gervais, running, Sound it Out, Tamperine, The Big Lottery Reaching Communities Programme
Something that has been running around in my head for the past week or so is how proud I am of Birmingham’s singing community.
I went to watch my daughter sing with Ex Cathedra’s Junior Academy at Town Hall last week. I sing with Ex Cathedra – I know how good they are. But a rare chance to sit in the audience reminded me how amazing it is to hear them sing. This concert in particular knocked me sideways as the repertoire was so special. It was a concert dedicated to the music of Alec Roth. I love singing his music – but I love listening to it more. He’s written a number of pieces for Ex Cathedra and it’s so great to sing the work of a living composer and for it to be interesting and exciting to perform and yet so immediate and enthralling to enjoy in the audience.
There’s been a glowing review or two – here – is one from the Birmingham Post and I will add to this by saying it’s probably the best choral gig I’ve seen in years. And I’ve seen some pretty amazing choir gigs in recent times!
In 2012 Birmingham Opera Company are going to premiere their new Opera by Jonathan Dove who is another British composer I am very excited about. If you couple that with how spine tingling and challenging BOC events always are – I can’t wait to see it and I’m feeling that Birmingham is a brilliant place to be right now for new (and excellent) choral music…
Also – what makes this stuff so special for me personally is that Ex Cathedra’s education work is internationally renowned for bringing the joy of singing to thousands of children (which is how my daughter got to sing in an Alec Roth world premiere) and Birmingham Opera Company put community performers at the heart of every production.
…in fact I’m in the mood to commission something again… watch this space!