Oxford Gospel Events Choir competes in the BBC Songs of Praise: Gospel Choir of the Year Competition!

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OGEC do BBC Songs of Praise Gospel Choir of the Year – the journey so far.

 

  1. We applied!
  2. We got in!!
  3. We got some work to do!!!
  4. Road Trip
  5. Workshop (more like a workout)!

BLOG POST 1

We applied!

So this whole process started way back in August (how is that only two months ago?) when Jules was approached by the BBC (as has been the case for the last five years) asking her to put the choir forward for the annual BBC Songs of Praise Gospel Choir of the Year competition. It wasn’t a straightforward decision, given the entry requirements. Which were, by the way:

Two gospel style songs under three minutes long (most of our repertoire is double this)…

…with minimal instrumentation (tough when every concert has at least a piano, bass and drums)…

…with the majority of singers on the entry available for many rehearsals, time in a recording studio and the big competition day itself.

All with a three week lead time.

Woah.

We all knew it was going take some work, but overall the committee felt this was as good a time as any to give it a shot. After all, we weren’t gonna get through to the finals anyway, were we…?

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We got in!!

Delivering the news of our successful entry to the Events choir was a great moment. There was more than a frisson of excitement, a tangible thrill of anticipation, and a rather loud chorus of ‘I’d better cut out the pies’. We were gonna be on the tele! Needless to say, everyone made themselves available for the big day, and the doodle polls went red hot in order to find suitable dates for rehearsing and filming and workshops. But we got there. And crikey did we have some work to do.

The two songs we were able to submit as our entries are certainly firm favourites, but are also some big numbers. Faith and Glory Glory – both songs from the repertoire of London Community Gospel Choir – are intricate, powerhouse gospel songs and we definitely want to do them justice. We also need to look good and perform it with conviction. So that’s what we set about doing…

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We got some work to do!!!

Conductors were chosen, soloists selected and Tamsin did a sterling job of arranging and recording three minute versions of each song. Tamsin also found a way of fitting the extra rehearsals and a workshop into the tight Christmas term schedule, which was no mean feat. Thank you Tamsin, you’re a gem.

Pete and Fiona learnt and then re-learnt every version of the song that came through from the BBC, with all their surprise changes and new limitations, and then taught them to the Events Choir deftly and professionally as always. Good job you two.

Lizzie and Fiona chopped and changed their solos with each new version and we KNOW they are going to absolutely knock it out the park on the big day. You are both sensational.

Kelly delivered some magical movement ideas, offering simplicity and effectiveness and most of all, something the choir could handle! Good skills Kelly ☺

Siân has been through several hundred uniform ideas and finally found one that works and will make us all look gorgeous on camera (she hopes!). She would like to point out that she take no responsibility and make-up though (she can’t even plait her own hair).

And Jules, well, what can we say? Jules has been overseeing the whole project, in constant contact with the BBC making sure we have all the information we could possibly need, liaising with producers, musical directors, rehearsal venues, transport providers as well as answering everyone’s questions day in day out. Jules, you’re a superstar.

Thank you also to the Community Choir. You are supporting us by coming to see the show, you are buying t-shirts to wear to the recording, you are being patient with us as we nip out of Tuesday night rehearsals every now and then. We hope we do you proud.

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Road Trip

Saturday 21st October saw the first ‘Events Choir Road Trip’ in several years, complete with minibus, Haribo and a bus driver who had no idea what he’d let himself in for (yes we did sing for the best part of the journey). We were off to an industrial estate in South London to record a new version of O Happy Day, specially arranged for the competition by Ken Burton, the show’s musical director (google him, you’ll be impressed).

Despite a studio the size of a downstairs loo, with temperatures that would rival a sauna, we had such a good day and we can’t wait for you all to hear the real thing. As Ken himself said, ‘it reminds me of those big multi-artist charity singles’, which gives you an idea of what to expect. Keep your ears out for Jules’s mega solo sections ☺

This day was full of firsts; not everyone had been in a recording studio before. But the most momentous was on the return journey, where Mr Pete Waters experienced his first EVER McDonald’s (I know, right). He opted for a grilled chicken wrap and a fruit bag (seriously), so a prize for whoever gets him to eventually down a BigMac and fries with a McFlurry chaser.

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BLOG POST 5

A Workshop (more like a workout)

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Last Tuesday was a big day. Not only were several Events Choir members being interviewed by the BBC about what the choir means to them, but we also had the joy of Ken Burton giving us advice on how to improve our performance. Turns out we can definitely sing. We can definitely move. We can definitely perform with intent and conviction. It’s putting them all together at the same time that seems to catch us out! By the end of the workshop I think I can safely say we all felt dramatically different; more sure of ourselves and what we are singing about and who for. Winning is definitely not the aim of this game; as Ken said it is a competition with a small ‘c’, so small it’s practically an ‘ompetition. It’s a celebration of Gospel music, a chance to come together with other choirs and showcase the talent in this genre and most of all impart some of that joy that singing together brings to each and every one of us. And for that alone, this whole journey has already been worth it.

 

 Check back next week for our blog about the competition!

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