Fascinating Rhythm had a couple of very special guests at our rehearsal on Thursday 16th February – Lenhard and Jo Van Ballegooijen from Holland. Lenhard is MD of Dutch Pride who rehearse in Ijsselstein, south of Amsterdam and Jo sings Bass in their chorus. This great connection started with our MD Jo Dean being invited to coach Dutch Pride before their convention a couple of years ago and we are now in the process of arranging for our two choruses to get together with plans for us to go to Amsterdam in April 2018, and we will host them in 2020 (http://www.dutchpride.nl). Exciting or what!
Jo and Lenhard also had the pleasure of watching the excellent Great Western Chorus and the (fantastic) Ringmasters in concert in Bristol on Saturday 18th. It really was an evening that showcased all that is wonderful with our particular genre.
Why Join FR? This article explains what just one of our members gets from our wonderful chorus.
Freedom in the making
Jo Dean has been Musical Director of Fascinating Rhythm chorus since 2008 and has bought us through many a storm, either within ourselves or as a chorus together. Jo’s capacity to gauge each one of us is amazing as she never takes us further than we are able along our journey to freedom.
Yes freedom, that is what being in a large chorus can give you, it starts with a vulnerable unsafe feeling and journeys into a search of self, an exploration to the inner being, eventually and gently releasing one into a new life, it could be called ‘metamorphosis’ (caterpillar to butterfly).
I personally have struggled many a time with just standing within the chorus as I have a medical disorder which causes neck tremor. However to my surprise, once singing the tremor is released and I can be free in my own movement and not held captive in my body’s preferred movement for me. This discovery has kept me wanting to persevere with my chosen hobby and I have been a member for almost 9 years.
So you see, singing together is not just about the singing, it is about your overall health and self esteem. It takes you to places you didn’t know you were able to go. You feel a part of a family, embraced and encouraged to be the best you can be. That for me is ‘Freedom’.
Thank you chorus family for helping me to find and understand myself a little better, especially chorus leader Jo Dean!
Saturday 10th December saw Fascinating Rhythm head off into the wilds of South Gloucestershire to entertain Sodbury and Yate Rotarians after their Christmas meal. After warming up our voices in a nearby scout hut, we crept into the little village hall to surprise our very appreciative audience; as we filed in one lady remarked how many of us there were – a surprise to us as we were feeling like a small chorus with only about 25 of our usual 60 singers due to the small venue.
This gig had an intimate feel with singers very close to audience (and the kitchen where the washing up was in progress). We held off the anticipated seasonal programme, starting off with some of our favourite repertoire songs which were very well received, then as we left the stage for a short interval – and to set the scene for our Christmas set – MD Jo Dean asked the replete and merry diners to count and name Santa’s reindeer* for when we returned.
Second half started off with a rousing chorus of ‘Ding Dong Merrily’ to put everyone in the mood, followed by a thundering rendition of ‘Carol of the Bells’. It was lovely to have the audience join in some of the carols later on, with the gentlemen in the audience making our fab Bass section sound even more awesome.
*There are, of course, 10 reindeer – don’t forget to count Olive (Olive the other reindeer …)
I didn’t really know what to expect from Convention, except I had watched a few choruses on You Tube. For me, overwhelmingly, it was the sense of bonding I got with other members of
Our five lovely new members at their first convention
FR! I loved the spontaneous singing we did at dinner the first evening and then again in the restaurant with another chorus on the Saturday – really “singing for our supper”! It was nice to look around and see non-singers enjoying the singing too. As for the competition itself, I found it really exciting and it was good to hear different Choruses. It helped me understand a bit more about why good choruses sound good. I was on a high from start to finish and feeling lasted a good long time during following week too as we had done so well! Feel proud to be part of FR.
Convention – how can I describe it? Amazing, bonding, professional, exhilarating, full of warmth and friendship, relaxing and refreshing. When I got on the coach to Harrogate I had no idea what to expect. The FR family sprang into action and I felt fully supported throughout. The coach ride gave the opportunity to learn more about the people we stand on the risers with each week. The militant schedule for our package meant we were all focused and feeling prepared for getting on the stage. I loved the way we could all just come and go in different groups, listen to other choruses and just share in one common interest.
By far, the best moment, was waiting on the stairs to go in and perform our package holding hands and feeling the energy from the whole of FR, so overwhelming and calming at the same time. A weekend I will never forget and roll on Convention 2017.
My first convention was a really thrilling experience. The adrenaline pushed us all to be even better than we had been before and I was so proud to be a part of a really great sound. My favourite moment was when we were all warmed up, dressed and ready waiting in the stairwell about to go onstage. We held hands in silence just repeating in our head “We’ve got this”. The moment was truly electric and made me feel like I was a part of such a special chorus. We’re all in this together!
Through feedback from longer-standing FR members I had tried to create an image in my mind of the LABBS Convention. Well, the reality included far more shimmer, glitter and glamour than I could have imagined! I loved the warm air of friendliness, encouragement and support throughout the weekend amongst delegates both within the conference centre and when seeing each other out and about in Harrogate. There was a real buzz throughout the weekend and it was great to see so many other groups and quartets performing, allowing me to observe and learn from each and every one of them. As for FR – it was an uplifting experience to be part of such a focused, committed, enthusiastic and hard-working group; our fabulous performance was the icing on the cake, the measure of success for me being the massive smile on Jo D’s face!
Junior FR took part in The Big Sing on 1st December at St Peters Church in Frampton Cotterell. This community charity event raises funds for Christian Aid with many school choirs and local children’s choirs involved. Wearing their FR T-shirts and with something Christmassy in their hair, JFR performed a 3-part arrangement of ‘Amazing Grace/Pachabel’s Canon’, then the juniors sang a really fun and vibrant version of ‘Must Be Santa’ by
Bob Dylan, followed by the seniors with ‘Winter Wonderland’ in 4 parts and supported by the FR helpers. MD Wendy Howse received the following from one of the organisers:
‘I just wanted to say a big thank you to JFR for coming along to this year’s Big Sing, the children sang beautifully & are a real credit to you. I’m pleased to say that £510.71 was raised for Christian Aid, to which will be added £94 in Gift Aid. Thanks again & best wishes’ Alison.