This year in July the Choir backed Russell Watson for his concert at Shanklin Theatre. This was another opportunity for the Choir to show their professional standards, and again receive plaudits from the MD of Russell’s production. Everyone who took part thoroughly enjoyed the experience, and meeting Russell.
Our summer concert was JezzaK, with actors playing out scenes of discovery and lie-tests.
This was an incredibly busy year for the Choir with many events.
We had our second appearance backing FatBoy Slim, marking our first mainland festival performance. This time it was at Common People in Southampton, with a new arrangement of Eat, Sleep, Rave, Repeat. It was a fabulous experience again, with the festival atmosphere and backstage facilities.
We entered a national competition to provide the choir for a touring production of Godspell and after much rehearsing and an audition in Southampton, were successful in being selected for the tour’s concerts in Southsea. The members of the Choir taking part underwent hours and hours of rehearsals, with many more hours for the section who were dancing as well as singing. When the MD of the tour came to see us before our performances he remarked on how professional our attitude was and how great we sounded. We sang in three concerts in two days at the Kings Theatre in Southsea. It was the full professional touring theatre experience, complete with movement warm-ups, 30 minutes calls, pizza deliveries, tears on stage.
This year was our third tour to France, this time going further south to the area around St Etienne and Lyons. Our first concert was undoubtedly the most amazing of those on our first three tours, with a packed church of over 400 people who loved our gospel concert. The choir handled 42C heat to give four concerts and enjoy sites like the Colosseum in Lyons and a boat trip on a local lake.
Someone we also managed to fit in a concert in Ventnor with a visiting choir from Denmark, which was very successful. We also tackled a classical repertoire for the first time for our summer concert, with favourites like Zadok the Priest, the Sanctus from Jenkin’s Mass for Peace and the Hallelujah Chorus.
Our Christmas concert was a Gogglebox experience, with live action sketches between songs, telling the story of a family through Christmas TV favourites.
In April we backed the Tenors UnLimited at the Isle of Arts Festival in Ventnor, which was great fun, and the Tenors were very entertaining. Our summer concert was in the theme of colours, with a huge range of songs from Amy Winehouse’s Back to Black through to an oldtime favourite Tie a Yellow Ribbon to the Old Oak Tree. There were also charity concerts with the Sandown and Shanklin Military Band, and the All Wight Musical Extravaganza in August.
The main concert in this year was our ‘Magic from the Movies’ Concert, which featured lots of Disney tunes, as well as Bond music, some Motown and lots more. Also we had our first gig with none other than FatBoy Slim, backing him on the main stage for the headline on the Friday night of Bestival, in front of 55000 fans. It was an amazing experience for the singers who took part, including another recording experience.
We had our second tour, returning to France, this time to the region around Angers and Nantes. As well as three concerts, we visited many places of interest, including caves that were inhabited until the 1960s, a wine cellar and had a fantastic time as a group of friends.
Our Christmas schedule this year included a concert with the HM Marines Association Band at Shanklin Theatre.
The year started with a rousing and heart warming concert at Medina Theatre called Gospel Gold, with a selection of traditional and contemporary gospel songs from the Choir’s well established repertoire. This was also a chance for many members of the Choir to sing this in concert for the first time, as extra rehearsals had taken place to introduce the music to those who had joined since the 2010 tour. This was soon followed-up with a second Gospel concert at Cowes Methodist Church in March.
After many rehearsals and much hard work, the Choir took part in its first recording, with the Royal Marines Band, Portsmouth (Royal Band), as part of their Diamond Jubilee album. The track we recorded in a new arrangement of the national anthem, an arrangement officially approved by The Queen, called Diamond Jubilee Tribute. We travelled over to Portsmouth for a day to record and it was a mammoth event for all concerned, with our Musical Director, Hannah Brear, conducting ourselves and the Senior Girls Choir of St Catherine’s School, Guildford, throughout the day. The album can be purchased online.
Instead of a single, big Christmas concert at Medina Theatre, the Choir gave several performances around the Island, visiting East Cowes, Binstead, Newport, Freshwater, Cowes and Whippingham. To support this large number of concerts we had a large repertoire of traditional carols and contemporary Christmas songs. In addition to these Island concerts, we also had an away day to Polesden Lacy, a National Trust house in Surrey, where we sang two sets in the grounds, before having a sociable visit to Guildford for shopping or chat.
In September the Choir gave a gospel concert in a filled Shanklin Methodist Church. We took part another Massed Choirs concert, this time at Medina Theatre, along Camerata,Wight Harmony and the Island Community Glee Cluband and the grand finale with all choirs on stage was conducted by Major Tony Smallwood of the Royal Marines Band Service.
The Choir opened the new La Falaise open air theatre in Ventnor with a short concert. You can see a clip of that on South Wight TV. At the end of the month, the Choir took to the stage with the best of the Island’s musical talent as part of the All Wight Music Extravaganza, and helped throroughly wow the audience, raising nearly £3000 for charities.
Binstead Holy Cross Chruch, on the 9th we performed some of our Numbers Ones as a precursor to our main concert later in the month. This was followed on the 15th by a concert at St Catherines Church in Ventnor, where we performed our gospel repertoire. We also had an eight hour sing-a-thon, raising funds for Paula Newton, a teacher at Medina High, as part of her fund-raising for an orphanage in Kenya.
The main event in July was our sold out performance at Medina Theatre on the 25th. This was a storming perfomance of Number Ones, complete with glitter, dance routines, basques and fantastic singing.
April 2011, Isle of Arts Festival, Ventnor
One of four choirs performing with Lesley Garrett, international soprano, in Ventnor. Our set was a mixture of gospel, musicals and pop, reflecting the breadth of our repertoire, with Lesley Garrett singing solo with the Choir for Over the Rainbow. The finale of massed voices had ourselves, Bournemouth Male Voice Choir and Hart Male Voice Choir on stage together singing You Raise Me Up and Rhythm of Life. During the concert, our Musical Director sang a duet with Ms Garrett, receiving much praise.
This was a big year for the Choir. Membership continued to grow, and we had some phenomenal events. In April we took part in the prestigious BBC Radio 3 Choir of the Year competition, singing Over the Rainbow (eight parts, a cappella) and Abba’s Super Trouper in the heats at The Anvil in Basingstoke. Then in July we performed at the Isle of Wight Festival, backing Melaine Safka in her performance of Lay Down (Candles in the Rain) on the main stage. If that was not enough we also went on tour to Brittany, singing four concerts (three gospel and one Abba & Beatles). Choir member, Kieron Brear, wrote several articles on his blog during the tour, the first of which is here. Of course we also had our regular concerts on the Island, Showstoppers from the Stage and Screen in July and our Christmas concert, both to a sold out Medina Theatre.
As well as our usual Christmas and summer concerts in Medina Theatre, the Choir gave concerts at Cowes Baptist Church, St James’s Church East Cowes, and Ryde St Thomas’s Church and took part in Ryde Rotary’s Music For You concert in All Saints Church in Ryde and Beats by the Riversideat the Riverside Centre, Newport. The summer concert was out first ever sell out at Medina Theatre, on one of the hotest days of the year, where we sang Abba and Beatles classics.
In this year, our summer concert was called Gospelish, indicating a range of traditional, and not-so-traditional gospel music. As well as our Christmas concert, we also performed around the Island in Newport, Ventnor and Wroxall, and won Best in Class at the Ventnor Music for Fun Festival. Also in March the Choir performed its first non-Christmas concert on it’s own in the Drama Studio at Medina High School, continuing the mood of Valentines with a set full of love songs.
This was the year the then Medina High Community Choir gave its first concert of its own at Christmas in Medina Theatre. Earlier in the year, with the Medina High Vocal Ensemble, the Choir gave a concert of music from stage and screen, as well as short performances at Cowes Yacht Haven and Newport Christmas Carnival. This was also the Choir’s first win at the Ventnor Music for Fun Festival, scooping best in their class and ‘Most Enjoyable Performance of the Festival’.
The Choir’s debut year, and gave their first concert at Christmas, with the Medina High Vocal Ensemble at Medina Theatre.