A Humble Church Choir in Edinburgh Hails Success
Everyone walking past the doors of our church that night must have noticed some unusual sweet voices emanating from the building. After all, it wasn’t like every other wet Saturday evening that a crowd of people stand around, shifting their feet nervously, humming the best bath-time sing-song and producing their odd nervous doh, ray me…
Although we were not the most successful amateur choir, everyone was ready to launch a new vocal venture in the city. Since we began our choir singing in Edinburgh four years ago, we have never performed in any event outside the church. But that year, we had taken the capital by storming, by performing as a flashmob, playing at the Fringe and even taking to the stage of the Queen’s hall. Without doubt, what had begun as a single choir had blossomed into a successful choir in Edinburgh. We even started getting more and more members every day.
As the founder of the Edinburgh Choir, I was not surprised
Being a former Liberton student, who had been singing in clubs and pubs in city since I was 17, I always knew people in Edinburgh loved to sing – and that a choir was the best way forward, especially for those who just wanted to sing because it makes them feel good or those who were unlikely to form their own choir.
I started by teaching “Singing for Fun Classes” which were ran by the church council and to be honest, I thought I could do something more with the people who were there. In one of the classes, I asked them if they were interested in forming a choir, and they all said yes. I started with thirty people, and by the end of the year, there were more than 320 members. It just exploded!
The influence of singing shows on TV highly helped me in creating interesting songs
With the influence of programs such as Britain’s Got Talent, The X Factor, and of course Malone Gareth and his programs, I was able to create tunes that have always been celebrated. The first song we produced was not so trendy, but it encouraged more people to believe that they can sing and that they should get more involved in choir singing. I had no idea that it would take off in that way. I did not have a plan and to be honest, people realized that being in the choir is not just about singing hymns in church, that it can be so much more.
We did a variety of songs due to our age differences, which ranged from people in their 20s to their 80s. Since there was a mix of men and women, I ensured that every song would bring out the different voices, and it had a message for everyone. Due to the large number of people in the choir, I decided to divide it into four groups, each group having around 65 members. I always went to three choir rehearsals every week, and with my assistant musical director, Veronica, we made sure we can see all the choirs every month. It had become a very big commitment for us both, but it was worth it.
Apart from singing in church and city events, the choirs have been involved in charity works, singing for Maggie’s Center, Radio Lollipop among others. Every choir works towards one show per year that is ticketed, and thus it is my job to ensure they are confident enough to take to the stage, feel like they belong there and to be as good as they can.
Choir singing in Edinburgh has grown rapidly since I launched the four choirs. Modern choirs, such as Edinburg Got Soul Choir and Edinburgh Popular Music Choir have sprung. Others that had been performing for decades, such as Edinburgh Bach Choir have really improved their classical choral singing. Surely, Edinburgh is in a fine voice!
Most people sing at school and then stop. For me, this was not the case. Perhaps it is because I had such a good time at school where there was a great music department, which encouraged pop and rock singing. Choirs are the best way for people who loved singing at school to take it up again. It is great to sing for audiences of hundreds of people who pay to come and listen, rather than play in a pub to a lot of drunks.