22 July 2016 at 11.46am | 1 Comment
Much has been made in recent years of a perceived decline in a sense of community. At a time when we’re busier and more work-focused than ever before, opportunities to engage with other members of our local society are in short supply.
Help is at hand however, in the form of the nation's choirs. Ensemble singing is currently enjoying a boom, as exemplified by the Royal Opera House Thurrock Community Chorus who this year are celebrating their fifth anniversary.
'It feels like a family,' says Jeremy Haneman, the Community Chorus's Music Director. 'There are fathers and sons, and husbands and wives in the Chorus, as well as people who have never met each other but have now formed a really great bond.'
From retired semi-professionals to those that have never sung before, the Chorus are an eclectic group of people, but what they all share is an appreciation for their community and a passion for singing.
'I started off singing quietly at the back in rehearsals,’ says tenor Brendan O’Callaghan, who joined the Chorus with his wife and daughter as a way of spending more time together. ‘But gradually I’ve become better and better at singing. It gives you such a sense of satisfaction when you've reached the heights of doing a performance.’
For soprano Ann Copeland, being in the Community Chorus has helped to build her confidence:
'It's good for your brain and it really gives you self-confidence, especially when you have to stand at the front,' she says.
While for alto Jen Wilson, a primary school teacher, singing has been a great way to escape the pressures of everyday life:
'I enjoy it so much,' she says. 'It's nice to get away from everything else and just absorb the music and throw myself into it.'
Since the Community Chorus was founded in 2011, its members have had the opportunity to perform alongside professional singers at the Royal Opera House in Covent Garden, as well as in festivals such as the annual Chorus festival at Southbank Centre. This month, to mark their fifth anniversary, the group will showcase their talents back in the local community with a birthday performance at the Civic Hall in Grays, Essex.
Watch more films like this on the Royal Opera House YouTube channel:
Il trovatore runs until 17 July 2016. Tickets are still available.
The Royal Opera House Thurrock Community Chorus is generously sponsored by Thurrock Borough Council, Prudential plc and Essex Youth Trust.
FUSED, ROH Thurrock Community Chorus's fifth birthday celebration, takes place on 24 July 2016 at the Civic Hall in Grays, Essex. Tickets are still available.