Dr Carol Coombes OBE – Does that make sense?

Today we say goodbye to Dr Carol Coombes OBE – a great friend and incredible mentor to me and so many other people I know and don’t know.

Lot of other people have already said it better than I can – but Carol was a one off. The world may have lost her last week but she lives on through her incredible Babies and Grandbabies and also through all of us who have been so inspired and encouraged by her passionate support and positivity.

I know that Carol was there through many big decisions in my life and will continue to be there in all that I do and choose to do even now she has gone.

She always had a way of making you feel like you could do it (whatever it was!) and a had way of encouraging you to look at things differently and most notably – more positively!

Her wild tangents would make you wonder where she was going on a topic… then somehow lead you back to exactly what you needed to hear.

Then she would always say: ‘Does that make sense?’ … it always did! Well mostly – sometimes not right away – but she was a wise woman and sometimes you had to take time to catch up with her.

In recent months even with her ailing health she would still find time to leave me voice messages rejoicing in my new job with Young Voices or my daughter’s Prom pictures. She would giggle and celebrate even when (by her own description) her giggles sounded more like Barry White.

Not to mention her amazing campaigning around her own cancer treatment choices and wellness. More here if you want to hear it from her directly: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VQM98IVvy6s

Thank you Carol – you made so many good things happen, and made so many of us what we are today so the world will continue to be a better place as a result of you for many years to come.

I really like this summary of her achievements here:


Lest We Forget


I had the honour and the pleasure of producing the UK’s first ever National children’s remembrance concert on 3rd November 2018.

The project was conceived by author and academic Ron Dawson who felt it was essential  to involve the next generation in the remembrance and commemoration of the 100th Anniversary of the end of WW1 in 2018.

Over 2500 young performers played, sang, danced and acted their way through a moving and beautiful concert highlighting all the people that were affected by the First World War. The project was made possible by music hubs and teachers around the country all pulling together through rehearsals over several months and then coming together in one special event in Birmingham. Thank you everyone!

Here is our coverage on BBC’s Newsround and some images from the show:




Chorus Advisor for Interkultur


I’m happy to let everyone know that I am now working for Interkultur as one of their Chorus Advisors to the UK.

My role is to help UK choirs sign up for Interkultur events around the world. Just let me know if any of the events here take your fancy and we can take it from there!

I think that there are lots of great choirs in the UK who would enjoy going to these events and in some ways the UK is not as well represented as I would like. There are competitions,  non competitive festivals and sing along events. Lots and lots for choirs to do.

Contact me anyway you already know how or use my Interkultur email address: clare@chorusadvisor.interkultur.com

Arts International Fund News


I received some great news in the post a couple of weeks ago to confirm that I had been successful in securing support from the Arts Council of England to undertake a residency with Interkultur – the world’s leading organiser of international choir competitions and festivals on three projects next year.

The first one will be International Choir Competition & Festival Bad Ischl  followed by the Sing’n’Joy Vienna 2016 3rd Choir festival  in late April, early May 2016.

And finally I will work on the World Choir Games in Russia in July 2016 with the added opportunity to help with a massed choir tour to St Petersburg and Moscow.

I will work as a member of the event team to learn about international events and to make contact with choirs and conductors from around the world to bring back to the UK as well as provide a link to UK choirs for Interkultur for future events.

This is an amazing opportunity for me to meet more choirs and I am very grateful to Arts Council England for their support! More updates as they happen!

Worcestershire Youth Music Gala


Gala pic

I had a lot of fun producing the Worcestershire Youth Music Gala concert on Sunday 3rd May at Symphony Hall in Birmingham. The logistics of moving 561 children around the stage at different times and keeping the event moving so it didn’t go on all night was made completely worthwhile by the quality of performances from the groups of young people from around Worcestershire. Some amazing playing from all involved and the concert showcased the talents of children as young as 7 through to those leaving school. A really lovely occasion.

Voices Now Gathering – a career highlight

Gathering massed choir

As someone who sings in choirs for fun – the fact that I get to work with choirs professionally is a real treat. But this weekend I had a highlight of my career so far. This year we have decided to build the programme for Voices Now with a collection of choirs of all kinds. So instead of myself and Matthew Swann our Artistic Director coming up with a programme and asking choirs to take part – we have started with the choirs and asked them what they want to do!

So on Saturday we all gathered at the Roundhouse in Camden for a day of singing and working out what everyone wants in the festival. We were looked after by some of the best choir leaders in the business – Chris Samuel and Osnat Schmool who led the choirs through warm ups and singing some new songs.

I have to admit to being quite apprehensive on Saturday morning as to how it would all work – but the day was extraordinary. The energy and excitement from the choirs was palpable and the singing from everyone blew me away. Everyone worked really hard and the first shape of the festival is starting to emerge and I can’t wait for May now! Oh and we were joined by the very talented Kathryn Tickell and Sam Lee who will perform with some of the choirs at the festival as well – look out for the festival programme coming soon! https://twitter.com/voicesnow

Touring with Young Voices

After three weeks of practically living in arenas – normal life feels really strange today. This year was my first year doing the full tour with Young Voices (and we are not finished yet there is still a week in Manchester in March). 15 days of working with thousands of children sounds hellish and tiring doesn’t it? But actually the whole thing is so well organised it is tiring but it is also a joy. There is nothing like seeing the children arrive excited and then hearing them sing their hearts out before heading home on coaches – often tired – but still smiling!

I also had a lot of fun working with the Young Voices Teacher Choir – who all had an amazing time despite often being quite nervous at the beginning of the day at the prospect of singing in such huge arenas.

Here are a couple of my pics:

Young Voices 2015 1 Young Voices 2015 3

Crowd Out videos

Being the Producer of BCMG’s world premiere performance of David Lang‘s Crowd Out in June was one of my career highlights. The videos made by the wonderful Rebel Uncut are now out and I have to share the edited highlights here as it is a wonderful memory. The full version is also worth watching and can be found via a link on the BCMG website…..

Young Voices

Hallelujah Concerts 2013

I’ve recently started work with Young Voices and in December 2013 had the pleasure of tour and stage managing the YV Hallelujah Choir Festival in Dublin.

It was an amazing way to learn how Young Voices works! There were approximately 3000 children per night for four nights so I soon got used to dealing with thousands of children arriving and departing in short spaces of time.

Since then I worked on the UK tour at the O2 in London, LG Arena in Birmingham, Motorpoint Arena in Sheffield and the Phones4U Arena in Manchester. It’s great to be part of the team and the excitement and atmosphere of each night can’t be described – you have to be there:

Simmer Down 2013


I’m still recovering from Simmer Down in July. The busiest, craziest most exciting day for me as producer.

I’ve been working with The Drum and the partners of the Perry Barr Arts Forum for 5 years now on an event in Handsworth Park and 4 years ago we called it Simmer Down and it just gets bigger every year!

As well as an amazing line up of acts on the main stage including Birmingham’s own XOVA and the legendary Half Pint we had workshops, craft stalls, jerk chicken and children’s activities.

My theory that the sun always comes out for reggae events was again proved true and we estimate that at least 10,000 people from Birmingham and far beyond came to the day.

We are now working on Simmer Down 2014 and want your views and opinions and feedback from this year so we can make it even better – so please take the time to let us know what you think here.