The Big Sing a big success in Thurrock

SINGERS from across Thurrock were given the opportunity to show off their talents on Saturday 19 and Sunday 20 March as the Royal Opera House hosted a Big Sing event and the Royal Opera House Thurrock Community Chorus performed at London’s Southbank Centre.

Young voices were raised in song on Saturday as the Royal Opera House Big Sing came to South Essex College in Grays. 60 young people aged between 8-25 years from across Thurrock came together for a morning of singing with the fantastic acapella singers The Sons of Pitches. The singing actually began on Friday when six Thurrock secondary schools attended the Thameside Theatre for a special Big Sing schools event. More than 80 students joined together in song and raised the roof.

The Big Sing is open to all so the young people came with a diverse range of musical and singing experience but a real passion to learn new skills, try out different styles and join together to create an exciting and dynamic piece of work. Royal Opera House vocal leaders Jeremy Haneman and Stuart Overington offered some expert advice about using and developing the voice and the group produced a unique piece with a West Side Story theme, which was performed to friends and family at the end of the morning.

Royal Opera House Young Vocal Leaders carried on the singing in the afternoon with a more advanced Big Sing. The Young Vocal Leaders have each been creating their own choirs within the community over the last six months, and on Saturday, they brought their choirs together to showcase their work, performing opera and other popular pieces to friends and family. The Young Vocal Leaders also demonstrated their skills by leading the audience in a range of vocal warm ups and rounds.

Performing at London’s Southbank Centre as part of their annual Chorus Festival (18-20 March) was a significant moment for the Royal Opera House Thurrock Community Chorus as they celebrate their fifth anniversary this year. More than 90 members of the Chorus travelled to London for the performance in the Clore Ballroom at the Royal Festival Hall, conducted by their Musical Director Jeremy Haneman and accompanied by Assistant Musical Director Michalis Angelakis.

The ROH Thurrock Community Chorus sang a mixed repertory of opera and popular show tunes such as Chorus of Scottish Refugees from Macbeth by Verdi, Lean on Me by Bill Withers, Bernstein’s America from West Side Story as well as works by Tchaikovsky and Rachmaninov. Members of the Chorus also sang solos throughout the programme and introduced pieces.

Matt Lane, Head of Thurrock and Thames Gateway, Royal Opera House said:

"What a great time we’ve had, enjoying the extraordinary sounds of Thurrock voices enlivening the Thameside Theatre, the South Essex College in Grays and on Sunday, Southbank Centre in London! It is particularly encouraging to see the diversity of participation from the Young Vocal Leader programme inspiring their peers and friends through to freshly formed community ensembles taking the stage for the first time and culminating with the magnificent sound of the Royal Opera House Thurrock

"Community Chorus singing challenging repertory off-score with great gusto. Each of these projects have roots and connections to Royal Opera House Learning and Participation programme and we look forward to working with even more singers across Thurrock in the future. Congratulations to all involved!"

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