Notorious 20th Anniversary

This post feels more personal than most. Probably because notorious is my baby and because it turns 20 this year and we are having the ultimate celebration!

In 1997 we designed notorious to be the kind of choir we wanted to sing in. Nothing like it existed then – and call me biased but there are few choirs like it even since the growth of choirs in recent years (people who leave to live in other parts of the world often complain they can’t find a choir quite like ours).

Gig in a Coffin Factory

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We wanted to sing a very wide range of music – basically anything that took our fancy! And we wanted to sing in unusual venues.

We also wanted to be a choir that strives for high quality performances but at the same time remain a non-audition choir.

I’m pleased to report that I think we are still holding true to these aims 20 years on and from the 7 people at the start we now have a regular 35 turning up each week – so we must be doing something right. We’ve sung in coffin factories, caves, municipal tips and all sort of crazy unexpected places and we still sing the music that takes our fancy – skilfully enabled by our arranger Richard Salt.

We never wanted to be a big choir so we do keep a waiting list if we go over 40 singers in a term – but this is the one rule we are breaking for our anniversary year! We have invited old members to join us for one special BIG version of notorious for the climax of our celebrations.

Notorious as backing choir for The Twang

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On 25th November 2017 at Town Hall Birmingham- for one night only – notorious will be a choir of over 70 singers.

Booking Town Hall was a big and brave step for a small non-funded charity like notorious – but we did it and 2 weeks from now we will sing Faure’s Requiem and Rutter’s Magnificat- and I for one can’t wait!

Tickets are going well – but Town Hall is a big place and we need every supporter to turn out and join us for the show – so please do join us.

I can promise the most electric atmosphere! Rehearsals all term have had a level of excitement never seen before and I’m really pleased with the hard work everyone has put in to make the music sound wonderful..

It would be lovely to see you all there.

Tickets can be purchased here.

News Coverage from 1997

First gig at the Roundhouse Birmingham

BM to BM – my week of music

As an 18 year old bassoonist all those years ago – I set off to start a music degree with the idea I would become a music teacher. I loved music and I wanted to share that passion and teaching seemed the best way to do it.

Until halfway through my degree my bassoon teacher Philip Brookes pointed out that all the festivals and events I was running as a volunteer student could be a career option. What?! I could be paid for what I do for fun?

Well yes. And the other thing I couldn’t have imagined is the variety of places that option has taken me to. This week is a case in point and I wanted to share it.

So this week I am embarking on three very different musical projects. All of whom make me very excited and proud to be involved! But they couldn’t be more different.

So number one: BCMGBenedict Mason (BM) performance in Aldeburgh. We premiered this piece in Birmingham last month. It is provocative and challenging (for audiences and stage managers alike) and it’s a total privilege that BCMG have asked me to help (in a very small way) to make such a complex piece happen. I love the idea of working with people like Benedict and being part of the team that make his ideas come to life!Benedict Mason

Number two: Young Voices Germany. This is our second year running a Young Voices Concert at the Barclaycard Arena in Hamburg. It requires me to dust off my very basic GCSE German when speaking to the security staff backstage and involves 6000 German children singing their hearts out to pop medleys both in English and German with an array of great guest acts including We Are Scientists. And their very excited parents in the audience. I love this job because their is no energy like the energy in an arena when a Young Voices gig is on. And I call the shows in Germany. It’s a buzz and a half.

Foto: Lichtw3rke

Foto: Lichtw3r

Number three: Well it’s time to admit it. My beloved choir Notorious has been asked to be the backing choir for Barry Manilow (BM) at the Genting Arena in Birmingham next Saturday. We come on for the 3 finale songs complete with choir robes and cheesy moves. And. Well. We are all more excited than we like to admit… barry-manilow-2015_960x360-2

So I’m looking forward to a week of music. All of which I will enjoy and if you had told me I could do this I would have become a producer on the spot… Oh wait…

So…Benedict Mason to Barry Manilow in one week… Here goes!

Icon of Freedom Festival

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I have just finished a week of working on Icon of Freedom, a festival dedicated to the life and work of Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz. Who? Well you may just ask that as she is very well known in her home country of Mexico but not so well known here. So we thought we would raise awareness through Icon of Freedom at the Oxo Bargehouse.

Sor Juana de la Cruz is a 17th Century a self-taught scholar and poet and nun from Mexico who was known in her lifetime as “The Tenth Muse’. The festival helped UK audiences to find out why her poetry has endured through the centuries and still speaks to audiences today on subjects as diverse as gender equality, science and freedom of expression.

The event was a lovely partnership between the SHM Foundation and Universidad del Claustro de Sor Juana who worked together to present visual art by young Mexican artists, food and fashion events inspired by Sor Juana’s life and work.

My role was to produce an event featuring Sor Juana’s poetry with responses from contemporary UK artists and Mexican visual artists. We put together two shows of spoken word, poetry and music to celebrate and explore her work.

For Juana’s poetry was read in Spanish by Sandra Lorenzano from Universidad del Claustro de Sor Juana and in English by actor Naomi Frederick who had just finished playing Sor Juana at the Globe Theatre. We also worked with contemporary UK artists who presented their own responses to the poetry: Sarah Sayeed  musician; Vivien Ellis and Giles Lewin, early music duo, Amerah Saleh,  soul poet and Chandra Chapman, composer.

There were also visual arts installations from contemporary Mexican artists and photographers, Derzu CamposAlex Aceves BernalCannon Bernáldez, Mauricio del Razo, Maru Rojas.

 

Young Voices First Show in Germany

Foto: Lichtw3rke

Foto: Lichtw3rke

In June I had the pleasure of being asked to Produce the first Young Voices show in Germany. It was the first time I’ve worked on a show where I don’t speak the language (my A at GCSE didn’t get me very far!) but luckily most people spoke English very well. But it did raise challenges when I didn’t actually know what the presenter was saying on stage even though I had written the script! But as ever Young Voices had put together a first class team of musicians and production staff so it was really a joy.

The acid test was to watch the faces of the children, teachers and parents in the show and it was great to see everyone smiling and loving every minute! I can’t wait until next year (and I’ll use the next 12 months to brush up on my German!).

Hamburg Young Voices

Voices Now 2015 – the best yet (in my opinion!)

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Last week we ran the third Voices Now festival at the Roundhouse. As Creative Producer I got to work with all the choirs to put together the programme for the weekend.

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This was a completely different way to put the festival together from previous events and involved Kathryn Tickell, Sam Lee, Omar and Akala as guest artists and curators and the event was shaped by them, the choirs and our expert choral leaders Osnat Schmool, Chris Samuel and Stephen Layton.

The results were outstanding. The collaborative environment suited the choirs – who all shared songs and ideas and worked with the guest artists to put together some unforgettable moments that took my breath away. We also had a range of sell out workshops, two Making Music Open Stages that were busier than ever.

Overall 45 Choirs, 2000 participants , 45 different Open Stage performances, 9 workshops and 3 mains stage shows.

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The Build up to Simmer Down 2014

Steel Pulse

Planning has started in earnest for Simmer Down 2014 and it promises to be a very special year. The headline act this year are Steel Pulse for who this will be a very special homecoming performance. Other acts include Apache Indian and Musical Youth.

My job now is to get all the permissions and infrastructure in place and make sure the event runs smoothly so everyone can enjoy this amazing line up on the day.

Come along and have enjoy the party….

Cultivating Culture Symposium

Cultivating Culture logo

Next week I will be running a symposium for Birmingham City Council’s Culture Commissioning team in the beautiful Library of Birmingham.

The Cultivating Culture Symposium event is being held at the Library of Birmingham on March 18th from 12pm – 7pm.

The Symposium will be the opportunity to share Case Studies and discuss issues and challenges that have emerged from the past 3 years of work by Local Arts Fora & Arts Champions and to reflect on how arts development can overcome barriers to participation and engagement.

The Cultivating Culture Symposium is an afternoon of debates and discussions for local people, arts organisations, policy makers and anyone who is interested in developing amazing arts activities at a grass roots level where they live.

The days starts at 12noon with a networking lunch and is kicked off with a Keynote Speech from

Claire McDermott Cultural Programmer for Derry Londonderry 2013 will be the key note speaker. There will also be small group discussions and the chance to see performances and presentations of the work done by Birmingham’s local Arts Fora and Arts Champions. 

There are a handful of FREE tickets left so if you want a day of debates and discussions you can book here – https://cultivatingcultures.eventbrite.co.uk