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Press release dated August 2019
Making Hay While the Sun Shines
This proverb originated with farmers in medieval times and was recorded by John Heywood in 1546 in his collection of English Proverbs. He wrote ‘when the sun shines make hay…..take time when time comes in case time wastes away’
When you read this, the choir will be officially ‘on holiday’ (and hopefully basking in glorious weather!). Although not rehearsing many of us will be busy preparing for the new term which starts on Tuesday 3rd September .
The autumn term will be a busy one. It’s the start of our 10th anniversary year and we are planning a celebratory concert on 9th November. The programme will feature music specially composed by Rufus our musical director as well as a mixture of our favourite pieces. Rufus will be occupied pulling together the musical side of things, finding the right arrangements, thinking through the flow of the pieces and working out how on earth to teach us everything in a limited number of rehearsals (nine!). The rest of us will be busy with poster and flyer design and printing, articles for local newspapers, logistics for the venue (including how to build a stage to seat of choir of over 90 people), sorting performers for solo pieces, pulling together the programme we hand out, ticket sales and last but not least refreshments!.
We are also scheduling all the other events we get involved with. These include visits to local care homes, support of local events, carols to raise funds for different charities and our annual Christmas concert. We try to support as many local good causes as we can and attend events in a wide range of venues indoor and out. We’ve performed in railway stations, supermarkets, parks and vineyards as well as a range of halls, churches and residents’ lounges. As long as we can get there, fit the choir in and manage the sound we will give it a go. Our fearless roadie crew have to research every venue we perform in ahead of time and think through how it will all work! A lot of this pre work takes place well ahead of any events.
Last but not least we have to put funding in place for our singing. We spend the summer (as well as other times) applying for grants and planning fund raising activities for ourselves (auctions of promises, quiz nights, garden parties).
In case you think that all sounds rather hard work I should mention we have also organised a Thames boat trip to Hampton Court, a visit to Buckingham Palace and a Christmas outing to The Magic Circle Theatre.
After all ‘all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy’ as another proverb says!
Press Release dated June 2019
What does a conductor actually do?
One of my fellow choir members recently posted the cartoon above on the choir Facebook page and, after laughing, it got me thinking. I have no doubt that Rufus, our conductor, regularly achieves minor miracles with the choir. He introduces us to a range of different new music and helps us to deliver it in a tuneful and coordinated manner and makes the journey fun. So how do conductors work their magic?
One of the most important jobs a conductor has is to set the tempo, control it and indicate to the choir where each beat and new bar starts. Typically most conductors use their dominant hand to demonstrate established patterns that show how many beats there are per bar and whereabouts in the bar the music is. This really helps the choir to stay together. Left to our own devices each section tends to see it as a challenge to finish first and ‘beat’ the other sections, lots of fun but not very musical.
A conductor also helps choir members to work out when to start singing and when to stop. Very often each section of the choir is singing a slightly different version of the tune both in terms of the actual notes and rhythm. These ideally weave together to create a beautiful sound but it does mean that each part needs to be sure when to join in. A good conductor will use their hands to bring each part in. Our conductor quite often mouths the lyrics to help when we are feeling a bit wobbly and holds up 1,2, or 3 fingers to indicate if we are in harmony or all together on one tune. How he does this while keeping track of the music in front of him is beyond me!
Conductors also listen and lead. They are in the ideal place to hear how the music is sounding all together and assess if the balance between the sections is right (is one part dominating?). They will notice if the words we are singing can be heard, if we are putting feeling into appropriate passages, creating moments of quiet or sudden loud emphasis. They will also bring their own interpretation of the music. Many of the pieces we perform are hundreds of years old and people will have heard them before. What makes these pieces come alive is the interpretation that the conductor brings and delivers through the choir
Finally and perhaps most importantly, the conductor sets the mood of the choir. A good conductor makes it enjoyable to sing and makes every individual feel supported and valued and able to give their best. Our choir now numbers over 100 regular members so perhaps Rufus isn’t doing too badly!
Do come along to our FREE Summer Concert on Tuesday 9th July 11-12,at
Grovehill Church of the Resurrection, Henry Wells Square HP2 6BJ
Press release dated May 2019
Earworms in the choir
I suffer from earworms, as do many of my fellow choir members. Personally, I blame Rufus, our Musical Director. Before rumours spread of a horrible disease in Dacorum I should explain that earworms are nothing more sinister than ‘sticky songs’ or music that that gets stuck in your head.
Apparently earworms are very common. A 2012 study found that about 90 % of Finnish internet users reported getting a song stuck in their head at least once a week. A researcher at Durham University (Kelly Jakabowski) has done research into what makes a song stick. It suggests that the easier a song was to sing, the more likely it was to get stuck in people’s heads .Earworms she says are likely to share pitch patterns that are common in Western music, particularly opening riffs that start out rising then fall in pitch. A dash of surprise seems to help a song become sticky too, as do more leaps between pitches than typically expected or larger leaps in pitch. Rufus does tend to inflict these on us!
So, what is it about songs that mean they are so sticky? Dr Vicky Williamson says there are a couple of reasons that might explain it. Firstly music is a ‘multi-sensory stimulus’. We encode it in more than one way. At choir we often learn by listening to the lyrics, then the tune, and then sing. Some of us also read the music and practise it on keyboards.
Secondly music is often encoded in a personal or emotional way. These attached emotions help us with recall. To be fair, choir practices tend to be pretty mellow but there is an element of nervousness at concerts!
Other experts (Daniel Levitin, McGill University) suggest that as written language has only been around 5000 years we previously used songs to remember important information (maybe I should try this!)
One final question: how do you get rid of earworms? Apparently it’s tricky. Research shows that the process of thinking about an earthworm to banish it just keeps it fresh. Levitin suggests ‘think of another song and hope that’ll push out the first one’ .With that in mind I’ll mention that we have just started practising ‘The Lion Sleeps Tonight’
Our rehearsals are on Tuesday mornings (9.40 – 11.30) at the church behind Grovehill shops. Our new term starts on 30th April
Press Release dated March 2019
Boxmoor Direct April 2019
Finding the Fun in Fundraising
As a community choir we get involved in fundraising on a regular basis.
We often sing at other charities’ fundraising events. Before Christmas we sang at Berkhamsted Station raising money for the Rennie Grove Hospice. Our Christmas concert raised funds for motor neurone disease. On these occasions, experiencing support from local people, it is very easy to feel happy.
On other occasions we help with the fundraising of others by simply going along and joining in. Austin, the vicar at Grovehill Church where we rehearse, is a whirl of creativity and we have happily bought copies of his works and attended dinners and film shows to raise money to support ongoing work in the Community.
We also have to raise funds for ourselves. We are what our finance whizz calls cost neutral. We don’t make any profit but we have to cover costs such as music and equipment. We keep our subscription as low as possible (£30 per term) and this doesn’t cover our costs so we fundraise. Our indefatigable committee chair fills in numerous forms for grants. I’m not sure she finds this terrific fun, but she certainly looks happy when we are successful. Thank you so much to Dacorum Borough Council, Herts County Council and The Boxmoor Trust to name a few.
We also do ‘creative’ fundraising. I regularly turn up to rehearsals to find someone has brought along something to sell to raise money for the choir. Last term there was alcoholic jam (very popular) and this term, delicious homemade biscuits. We had to auction a music bag one of our members made as so many people wanted one!
This year we have the additional challenge of raising money to celebrate our 10 year anniversary. We are asking for spare change (chuck it in the bucket), planning an auction of promises and a quiz, and selling pre loved books and music. Our lovely members have already chosen to donate money to a ten year fund and we are actively looking for additional grants and support from local businesses
If you have any ideas that we could try please get in touch! Equally come along and join us and give singing a go.
Our rehearsals are on Tuesday mornings (9.40 – 11.30) at the church behind Grovehill shops.
Our term ends on 2nd April.www.dacorumcommunitychoir.org and at facebook.com/dacorumcommunitychoir
Our next concert is on Sat 23rd March 7.00 – 8.30 pm featuring a performance of The Voyage by Bob Chilcott at St John’s Church Boxmoor HP1 1JY. All proceeds to Age UK.
Press release dated February 2019
If a picture paints a thousand words…..
For those of us of a certain age (I mean listening to music in 1971) the above phrase is the well-known start to a song by Bread. It actually dates back to earlier times in a slightly different form. Arthur Brisbane a newspaper editor said in March 1911 ‘Use a picture. It’s worth a thousand words’ In other words a picture conveys its meaning or essence more effectively than a description does.
So why am I wittering on about this? For the Dacorum Community Choir the concept of a picture telling a story became a topic of debate when we were asked for a logo….. and didn’t have one!
After considerable head scratching and reading of articles on Google we decided that perhaps it might be useful. We aren’t a big company or household name but sometimes it’s really useful to have a shorthand way of describing what you are about or allowing people who know you to see you are performing. Apart from anything else, it takes up less room on a flyer!
As with most things choir related it drew on the knowledge of a friend of a choir member who offered to help. They listened to us try to describe (using a lot of words) what was the choir was all about and came up with three possible options. Being a democratic bunch we put these to the vote and the overwhelming decision was to go for the one you see at the top of this article. We hope it conveys something of the joy of music and the living and growing nature of our choir. I could try to say more but as you know ‘a picture is worth a thousand words’
If you’d like to find out more:
Our rehearsals are on Tuesday mornings (9.40 – 11.30) at the church behind Grovehill shops. Our term ends on 2nd April.www.dacorumcommunitychoir.org and at facebook.com/dacorumcommunitychoir
Our next concert is on Sat 23rd March 7.00 – 8.30 pm featuring a performance of The Voyage by Bob Chilcott at St John’s Church Boxmoor HP1 1JY. All proceeds to Age UK.
Press Release dated January 2019
A change is as good as a rest
I’m not sure who first coined this expression and the internet seems as puzzled as me. With many of us starting the New Year with fresh resolutions in mind the idea of change seemed a good theme for this article. It was further supported as a topic when I started to reflect on what the choir has achieved in 2018 and what it is planning for 2019. In summary, the choir has performed a lot of different types of music in various settings with all sorts of people! No two weeks are ever the same.
We have tackled early classical music and musical theatre. We have belted out traditional folk songs as well as more modern music that some of us remember vaguely from our youth. In December we sang Christmas music and carols, often to raise money for local charities.
We have tried our hand at singing in Latin, Hebrew, Dutch, Welsh, Irish, German and Early English. I am regularly surprised by how often a hand goes up when Rufus, our Musical Director asks in a hopeful voice ‘do we have any native speakers?’
We do seem to ‘get about a bit’ too. During 2018 we have sung in vineyards (always popular), shopping centres, parks, social centres, railway stations, churches and allotments. We have entertained shoppers, passers-by, eaters, drinkers, residents of care homes, families, commuters, church congregations, people paddling and even the occasional dog. We welcome anyone as an audience and are very happy to report that babies seem to enjoy attending our concerts and rehearsals.
With all this change is there anything that has remained constant for the choir? The answer is yes, our commitment to raising funds for charity and our involvement with the local community.
During this last year we have raised vital funds for a number of charities including: Remap South Herts, Motor Neurone Disease Association, Rennie Grove Hospice Care, Sunnyside Rural Trust. We have very much enjoyed supporting all these causes at a local level. The icing on the cake was to have our contribution recognised by Dacorum Borough Council with the award of their Community Event Prize in April
The other thing that remains constant is our commitment to welcome newcomers of all ages and all experience levels. No auditions are necessary and we promise to make you feel at home.
2019 will be an exciting year for us. We have a joint concert with the Aeolians at St John’s Church, Boxmoor (23rd March) at which the centrepiece will be Bob Chilcott’s The Voyage. September marks the start of our 10th year as a choir. Our anniversary concert is on 17th November and will feature a specially commissioned piece with words by Grovehill’s Rev. Austin James and music by Rufus Frowde, our Musical Director.
If you fancy trying something new in 2019 please come along and join us. We’d love to have you and after all ‘nothing ventured, nothing gained!’
Just come along to one of our rehearsals on Tuesday mornings (9.40 – 11.30) at the church behind Grovehill shops. Our term begins on January 8.
More information at www.dacorumcommunitychoir.org and at facebook.com/dacorumcommunitychoir
Press Release dated December 2018
Bravely and boldly into Christmas and 2019
Courage and valour are words that have been in many people’s minds during events commemorating the armistice in the Great War of 1914-18. Goodness knows, anything we’ve done pales by comparison with the suffering and sacrifices of that terrible time. But the word “brave” has twice been coined about us by our musical director recently.
“I’m hugely enjoying working with you – still!” said Rufus Frowde, to some amusement, as he gave his annual report at our AGM. “It’s extraordinary how we continue to explore new ideas together. You’re still very open-minded about repertoire, from popular musicals to spirituals to sacred music – even if there’s sometimes some grumbling about singing in other languages!”
Coming together to sing Will Todd’s We Will Remember Them in Hemel High Street on Remembrance Sunday at short notice and with only one rehearsal was really brave, he added. Based on the poetry of Laurence Binyon and A.E.Housman and first performed at the Hertfordshire Schools Gala at the Royal Albert Hall four years ago, it’s new to recently-joined members.
Ten years old next year, Dacorum Community Choir is no longer the new kid on the block but has reached “a very nice maturity”, Rufus said. But some members still had reservations about being involved in performances, he added, exhorting them to “be brave!” “Wouldn’t it be lovely if 98% of members were there?”
After recalling achievements of the past year and looking ahead to new ones in the new year, Rufus professed himself hugely excited by the prospect of writing a specially-commissioned piece for our tenth anniversary concert on November 17 2019 with words by Grovehill’s Rev. Austin Janes.
But Christmas is the immediate prospect, with an Advent Sunday carol concert at the Church of the Resurrection in Grovehill (December 2, 6pm) following two performances at Frithsden Vineyard (on November 24).
In the late afternoon of December 5 we’ll be greeting commuters returning to Berkhamsted railway station; there’ll be carols at the Centre in the Park (Gadebridge) on December 11 (1.30pm), and we’ll again be performing carols in Leavesden Country Park on December 12.
Our main Christmas concert will be at St John’s Church, Boxmoor, on December 20 (6pm to about 7.15). And don’t forget to look out for DCC’s entry in the church’s Christmas tree festival.
Even if you’ve never sung outside a bath before and would never consider singing in public, find out what fun it can be practising with a large group of friendly people. Just turn up at one of our rehearsals on Tuesday mornings (9.40 – 11.30) at the church behind Grovehill shops. Our last rehearsal this term is on December 18. Next term begins on January 8.
More information at www.dacorumcommunitychoir.org and at facebook.com/dacorumcommunitychoir
Press Release dated November 2018
Why we’re in upbeat mood
It’s always nice when you exceed your own expectations. Even better when you exceed other people’s, as we found out at our Sing, Sing, Sing concert last month, which was something of an experiment.
When we decided to give a short, free concert directly after one of our Tuesday morning rehearsals at the Church of the Resurrection in Grovehill, we thought it was a way of offering the church an extra thank-you for being such accommodating hosts.
But we wondered whether many people would turn up to hear us given the rather odd time of day (11am) after a slightly truncated rehearsal
With the Rev Austin Janes’s permission, we dutifully shifted the altar plus three rows of chairs for the choir to occupy, leaving more than adequate seating for anyone who came to listen
At the end of the foreshortened rehearsal, our musical director Rufus Frowde warned, encouragingly, that we shouldn’t worry if we ended up singing to only a handful of people. The point was also to give our practices a focus during the first half of the autumn term while avoiding starting Christmas preparations in September
To our very pleasant surprise, the spectators arrived in droves. (We were particularly pleased that among them were volunteers from the Sunnyside Rural Trust, with whom we’ve developed a mutually-beneficial relationship)
After the performance, when a member of the church rose to thank the choir, he commented that one measure of our success was that it had been very difficult to find a parking space on arrival. He added, amid some mirth, “How much you’ve improved since last time I heard you”, a compliment which we’re happy to accept in the spirit he intended it
It wasn’t the only compliment. “How wonderful to see such a happy, smiling choir!” another audience member said. (There was a time when we had to work on our smiling.
Even the youngest person in the audience, a babe in arms, gurgled in very timely appreciation when Rufus and our accompanist Judi Kelly played Fauré’s cradle song Berceuse as a piano duet part way through the programme – a varied mix of traditional songs and spirituals from around the world
As Rufus commented later, “It’s like throwing a party; you’re never quite sure who’s going to turn up and how it’s going to go. But it turned out to be a very good party.”
Not least because nearly £400 was raised in a collection for the local branch of the Motor Neurone Disease Association and a valued member of our choir who has MND was able to be present
We couldn’t, though, delay preparing for Christmas much longer. At the very next rehearsal we made a start on our seasonal repertoire, including Bob Chilcott’s modern carol Behold That Star, which will be the title of our main festive concert, at St John’s Church, Boxmoor, on the evening of Thursday December 20 (6.30pm)
Watch out too for the first official appearance of our long-awaited new logo (mooted in this column in August 2017!) at St John’s Christmas tree festival. Our entry will mark The Giving of Music.
Press Release dated October 2018
Remap says a BIG THANK YOU
Dacorum Community Choir has raised a wonderful £700 for Remap South Herts this year, writes Di Stevens. At their most recent concert, Remap’s chairman, Bob Barrett, thanked the choir and their supporters and briefly described the charity’s work.
Remap South Herts is the local branch of the national Remap charity, whose volunteers use their ingenuity and engineering skills to design and make bespoke equipment for people with disabilities to use in the home, school, and workplace or in their leisure pursuits. All items are made free of charge. Remap relies on donations and the funds raised will buy materials for future projects.
As an example, Bob described a lightweight tray that one of his colleagues had made for a lady to put onto her wheelchair herself as she found she could not manage the heavier one that had been provided with her wheelchair. He asked anyone who needed Remap’s help or anyone who would like to become a Remap volunteer to contact them. The engineers gain great satisfaction from solving a problem plus a smile and “thank you” from those they have helped.
Dacorum Community Choir was started in November 2009, initially Council funded. Since 2010 it has been self funding with the aid of grants from local councillors’ budgets, Box Moor Trust and others. In 2010 the founding committee did their sums, set the subscription fee low, and crossed their fingers that there would be enough money in the kitty to pay their music director each month.
Since then numbers have swelled and the choir has proved a success on so many levels. Some members have discovered the joys and relaxation of choir singing for the first time in their lives, some have learnt new “roadie” skills – how to set up microphones, amps and speakers, and new friendships have been forged. The choir has given much to the community by singing at events and in day centres etc.
A few years ago the choir decided that its own finances were sound and they could collect for a charity each year. Hope for Children, Sunnyside Rural Trust, DENS, Charlie’s Gift and now Remap South Herts have all benefitted.
For more about Remap visit www.hertfordshire-south.remap.org.uk
phone 07514 211 393 or email email@example.com
For a chance to find out what sort of music DCC sings, come to a short performance on Tuesday October 9th from 11.00 am, at the Church of the Resurrection, Grovehill (behind the shops in Henry Wells Square). There is no charge but there will be a collection for the South Hertfordshire branch of the Motor Neurone Disease Association. There’s a cafe in the Community Centre, which serves lunches and snacks at very reasonable prices if you fancy a bite afterwards.
There’s more about Dacorum Community Choir at www.dacorumcommunitychoir.org and at facebook.com/dacorumcommunitychoir
Press Release dated 31st August 2018
‘Thirty-five go singing in Ludlow’
Twenty-nine singers, one accompanist, a musical director, three partners and a 3-year old, all from the Dacorum Community Choir, set forth on July 20th to entertain the residents of Shropshire’s famous ‘foodie’ town.
The trip was the finale to a busy term for the Hemel based choir, which had included two concerts, a fund-raising auction, and a special performance of a version of ‘Favourite Things’, with words by Roger Harvey, to mark our MD, Rufus Frowde’s 40th Birthday.
We left Grovehill on the Friday morning, in a coach provided by Mason’s, where we met Andrew the driver. ‘Little’ Andrew as he became known to distinguish him from one of our members ‘big’ Andrew, proved to be a star of the weekend. As well as his immaculate driving, advice on best routes to take, helpful pick up and drop off arrangements and furniture moving, he also recorded and photographed our performances and entertained the 3-year old son of Polly and Rufus.
We’d booked a group of cottages in Upper Onibury for the party and arrived in a slight drizzle around 4 pm, but that soon cleared and by 6.30 we’d gathered outside for a barbecue, confidently and calmly cooked by Simon Wright, assisted by Cecilia. Some members of the Ludlow Male Voice choir, with whom we were singing the next evening, joined us and we had an impromptu sing song under our Gazebo which had been splendidly decked out with fairy lights by Doug Forster and his merry band of techies. A slightly more chaotic sing-song followed later (see photo).
The complex included a swimming pool and tennis court and next morning there was a trickle of people bravely making their way for an early swim. Unfortunately, nobody was prepared to answer our MD’s challenge to a game of tennis, possibly because the average age of the singers is nearly twice his age!
The main musical event of the weekend, our joint concert with the Ludlow Male Voice Choir, ‘Sing me a Song’, took place in the Methodist Churchon Saturday evening. DCC sang the first half which bravely included the Welsh folksong ‘Dacw ‘Nghariad’ . We’d been coached in the language by a native Welsh speaker and a member of the audience kindly gave us some more tips in the interval.
The Male Voice Choir then sang and we joined together in ‘This little light of mine’ and ‘Speed your Journey’. The concert was enthusiastically received by an audience of around 70 and at the end our MD said; ‘The choir has just excelled itself’ – praise indeed!
Back to the cottages and up early on Sunday to substitute for the regular choir in the Eucharist Service at St. Laurence’s, Ludlow’s imposing parish church dating back some 550 years. Included in the programme was the Trinity Mass by Peter Dyke, who had been Rufus’s organ tutor. It’s a small world in the organists’ mafia.
Our next and final engagement of the weekend was an outdoor concert on the Millennium Green a wonderful open space by the River Teme. We had a light packed lunch, (as one of our singers said: “Even the sandwiches in Ludlow are foodie!”) and a chance to chill out before we sang to entertain the diners in the local cafe and families paddling in the river, plus the obligatory two dogs.
And so to curry and more fun back at our home from home. Twenty plus singers from the male voice choir joined us and we had a fine time, with shared stories, tag singing, lots of laughter and some local beer.
A good weekend in beautiful surroundings, a chance to get to know others in the choir, to sing a little out of our comfort zone and to appreciate what each of us has to give.
The choir reconvenes for the Autumn term on Tuesday 11th September, at 9.40 am in the Church of the Resurrection, HP2 6BJ. Please come along and give us a try if you think you might be interested in joining. There are no auditions – all are welcome. See www.dacorumcommunitychoir.org or our facebook page.
Press Release dated 1st August 2018
Summer Time and the livin’ aint easy!
It used to be the case that Christmas was our busiest time of year. But the past few weeks seem to have been just as hectic. The hot weather, ongoing at the time of writing, has been no deterrent to a varied programme of performances and other activities which involved a number of ‘firsts’ for DCC.
Unusually, when we took part in a thanksgiving service at St John’s, Boxmoor, to mark the 15th anniversary of DENS, the Dacorum Emergency Night Shelter, on July 10th we had specifically been asked to sing Ralph McTell’s Streets of London about homeless people.
Our performance the following day at the Heather Club at Carey Baptist Church was an opportunity for our first public performance of a Welsh folk song Dacw ‘Nghariad (There’s My Sweetheart) in Welsh and English, as well as longer-established songs from our repertoire and the community songbook.
The next week, our full-scale summer concert at the Church of the Resurrection in Grovehill broke new ground by including instrumental as well as vocal solos from choir members on bassoon, flute and guitar or singing in a programme which ranged from Faure to Handel, Gershwin and a 16th century French folk song. What a multi-talented lot we are, as well as offering a warm welcome to complete beginners!
By the time you read this, a group of 34 from the choir will have completed our first mini-tour in the UK with a weekend visit to Ludlow in Shropshire, with the main event a joint concert with the local male voice choir – two ‘firsts’ in one paragraph!
Add to that our first stall at a Grovehill fete and a well-supported fundraising “Auction of Promises” in which bids were made for goods and services offered by choir members.
All in all, it seems a long time since that hot Saturday afternoon when our gazebo kept the sweltering sun off our heads as we sang at Sunnyside Rural Trust’s Hemel Food Garden in early June!
Press Release dated 9th July 2018
Authentic voice of the people?
What kind of music does the Community Choir choir sing? It’s one of the questions we’re most often asked and one of the most difficult to answer adequately.
In our early days, like many newly-formed community choirs, we sang a lot of what you could loosely term ‘world music’: simple tunes with lyrics in foreign languages. A Ghanaian playground song, a number about unloading bananas from a ship in Poland (yes!), not to mention stirring anthems in Hebrew about peace and love.
Even then our repertoire was more varied than ‘world music’ suggests. How do you sum up a range from the Flying Pickets through the Beatles and popular ‘standards’ such as Deed I Do to bits of Purcell and Bach?
Sometimes, it’s easier to shrug and just say we do a wide range of stuff. If you’re interested, come and listen to us, or better still try our Tuesday morning rehearsals. (And if you don’t like it one week, we’ll probably be doing something entirely different the next!)
A few months ago, we seemed to be getting more into songs from musical theatre: Sunrise Sunset from Fiddler on the Roof, Seasons of Love from Rent, and Corner of the Sky from Pippin.
Sacred music often figures in our programme, especially if we’re singing during church services (for example on tour in Holland last year or next month in Ludlow.) But it’s anathema to some members. Though we rehearse in Grovehill’s Church of the Resurrection and often perform in churches (our next gig there on July 17 is called “Sing Me a Song”), we are not a church choir.
Just recently we have been performing more folk songs, though we’re no more a folk group than a church choir.
Traditional songs such as Leaving of Liverpool, Skye Boat Song, and Streets of London (which we’ve been asked to perform at a concert for the DENS at St John’s Boxmoor on July 10), are part of our culture. They tell a story and something of history too, often through the eyes of lowly individuals.
Could it also be that in post-referendum Britain, tastes have veered away from ‘world’ music to more nationalistic fare? If so, do ‘folk’ songs provide the authentic voice of the British people?
A current favorite, called Pleasant and Delightful, is the story of a seaman being shipped off to the East Indies, “where the loud cannons roar”, having to part from Nancy “the girl that I adore”.
The song begins with an evocation of midsummer England as idyllic as John Major’s warm frothy ale and thwack of leather on willow.
But as it continues it seems to me that the sailor’s avowals of love may be less than sincere. Especially if the song were sung by a bar full of male revellers after several frothy pints.
The culminating refrain “And if ever I return again, I will make you my bride” could be taken to be a misogynistic comment on the unlikeliness of his willing return to Nancy, or simply an acknowledgement of the perils of serving in the wild East.
Depending on how you sing and interpret such lyrics, this folk song may also have a darker side.
Press Release dated 1st June 2018
Songs in the Garden
Members of Dacorum Community Choir will be singing in support of Sunnyside Rural Trust on Saturday June 9.
The trust, which provides training opportunities for people with learning difficulties, is holding an open day and plant sale at Hemel Food Garden in Two Waters Road, HP3 9BY. The choir will be performing at 2pm.
Sunnyside was the choir’s chosen charity last year, when more than £850 was raised.
This year the choir’s charity is Remap, which makes special equipment to help people with disabilities. DCC’s Spring concert in May raised £140 for Remap South Hertfordshire, whose chair, Bob Barrett, said: “Our work is made possible by donations like this and we are most grateful.”
Later in June (Sunday June 24, about 1.15pm) Dacorum Community Choir will sing from the Rainbow Stage in Marlowes in support of AViD, the campaign for an arts venue in Dacorum.
The choir rehearse during the day-time on Tuesdays (9.40am – 11.30am) at the Church of the Resurrection behind Grovehill shops, Hemel Hempstead HP2 6BJ.
Newcomers are always welcome. No experience is necessary and there are no auditions. We are known as the friendly choir and sing for the fun of it, giving small-scale performances in care homes, clubs and at outdoor events and at least two full-scale concerts a year.
For more information visit www.dacorumcommunitychoir.org
Press Release dated 8th May 2018
Coming over all crotchety
What to write about this month? Our Spring concert may be over by the time you read this, and I’ve already plugged it repeatedly (see photo caption and ad in this edition). Our latest committee meeting was buzzing with plans and ideas for the future but not yet ready for publication. Maybe now’s the opportunity for one of those crotchety rants I’ve been promising myself?
One day, and it may be soon, I will hang up my publicity quill and wonder how to spend my empty hours. Perhaps a monthly column complaining about the state of the world in general would appeal to Madam Editor. “Musings by the Moor”, perhaps? “Moor Musings”, “More Monthly Moans”? How about it Emma?
Waitrose, now there’s a rich potential target I’ve been meaning to have a go at for some time. Not that it’s in Boxmoor, but it’s where we bourgeois denizens of the neighbourhood like to spend our time and dough. It’s my favourite supermarket. What’s not to like? It even shares its profits among its “partners”.
What drives me mad is the fatuous adjectives now routinely deployed on its labels and packaging. Do I really need to be told that teabags are luscious and luxurious? That bananas are tangy with a hint of citrus, or that my coffee is smooth and soothing? (OK, so I’ve made these up, but you know the general idea.)
I thought a suitable slogan for marketing Dacorum Community Choir would be “They do what it says on the tin”. Yes, our 102 members come from all over Dacorum; we perform out in the community as well as for our own pleasure, and raise funds for worthy causes in doing so. We draw members from all sections of the community (we even attract men!) and yes, we are Dacorum’s day-time CHOIR!
Tuneful and sonorous, friendly and fun, open and welcoming.
Charismatic, charming and charitable (our musical director Rufus). Joyful and jolly adaptable (our accompanist Judi). The epithets are endless.
Even the cakes after our May 5 concert are free and (mostly) home-made. And at least we don’t give you a ‘£3 off New Zealand lamb’ voucher when you’ve just spent more than you should have on the bl**dy stuff.
Press Release dated May 2018
From heavy metal to Covent Garden and Hemel
A prize-winning baritone, who tried to make a go of rock and heavy metal bands when he was a teenager, is guest soloist at Dacorum Community Choir’s Spring concert on Saturday May 5.
John Holland-Avery’s career in classical music began to take off when he was cast in Mozart’s The Magic Flute at the Royal Opera House while still a promising boy chorister at the Chapel Royal Hampton Court.
He has since played operatic and other roles in Germany as well as Britain, and performed live on BBC Radio 3 while a post-graduate student at the Royal Northern College of Music.
The community choir’s concert takes place at Hemel Hempstead Methodist Church in Northridge Way, starting at 4pm.
Called “Seasons of Love”, it celebrates love through a variety of traditional and modern songs under the direction of Rufus Frowde with Judi Kelly as accompanist.
Tickets (£10 and £5 for under-18s) are available from choir members or on the door and include tea and cakes after the performance. There will also be a collection for the choir’s current charity, REMAP South Herts, whose volunteers make aids that solve practical problems of everyday living.
DCC sings for many community groups and welcomes further invitations.
With more than a hundred members, they are a friendly informal day-time group who practise each Tuesday from 9.40am to 1130 am in term time at the Church of the Resurrection behind Grovehill shops.
No auditions or experience are necessary. Even if you’ve never sung before, just turn up and find out how much fun it can be. For more information visit www.dacorumcommunitychoir.org.
Press Release dated April 2018
Community efforts in the cold rewarded
As the choir broke up for the Easter holiday, news came through that DCC had won an award from Dacorum Borough Council in recognition of how our singing ‘in the community’ helps raise funds for worthy local causes.
The borough council made awards in seven categories and Dacorum Community Choir came top in the Community Event section.
The £100 prize was awarded for the choir’s participation in a pre-Christmas event, Carols in the Park, at Leavesden Country Park which raised more than £350 for YMCA’s Young Homeless project.
Announcing the award at her last rehearsal as the choir’s chairman, Sally Davies said it recognised how the value of the council’s grant aid to DCC was further increased by donations to charities we support with our singing.
Writing on Facebook, she commended the efforts of singers, “roadies” and our accompanist Judi Kelly who dodged snow showers and braved frostbite to perform at Carols in the Park.
The weather has been only marginally better more recently, but Dacorum Community Choir’s Spring programme is well under way, with small-group performances at social clubs and residential homes, and about a third of the choir taking part in the opening set of Dacorum In Song with youngsters from local schools at St John’s Church in Boxmoor in March.
Seasons of Love is the title of our full-scale Spring Concert on May 5 at Hemel Hempstead Methodist Church in Northridge Way HP1 2AU.
Among other things we’ve recently we’ve been polishing some folk songs, the traditional English Leaving of Liverpool; an arrangement of the Scottish Skye Boat Song; and Eriskay Love Lilt from the Outer Hebrides, plus two more modern offerings (of which more later).
The first of the traditional numbers is about a late 19th century migrant to California who’s not that fussed about missing his home town, but is looking forward to being reunited with his sweetheart. It’s full of wry humour about the journey he’s about to undertake and the rickety boat to which he’s entrusting his future and his hopes.
The Skye Boat Song also involves a sea crossing and is about love and loyalty towards a dynastic cause and its central romanticised figure, Bonnie Prince Charlie, while Eriskay Love Lilt, which is sung in English and Gaelic, features another Scottish island and the separation of lovers: “Sad am I without you”.
In one of our modern offerings, Moysen and Milloy’s Pages, a lover uses the metaphor of a book to show how central his beloved is to his life. If I wrote down the story of my life, he says, you’d be on the cover and every page, “for it’s you who keeps turning the pages and it’s you that I keep turning to.”
And Seasons of Love, which gives its name to our May 5 concert, comes from the musical Rent, a kind of 1990s New York take on La Bohème.
Could it be Spring that’s responsible for the theme of Love that’s emerging?
Press Release dated March 2018
Coming soon: a celebration of love
Hard to believe, but Spring is on its way, so Dacorum Community Choir is already rehearsing and planning for its Spring concert, to be held at Hemel Hempstead Methodist Church in Northridge Way on Saturday May 5.
Called Seasons of Love, our first major concert of 2018 will feature songs celebrating love in its various forms through music both traditional and modern.
DCC is pleased to welcome prize-winning young baritone John Holland-Avery as guest soloist for this concert.
While still a promising boy chorister at the Chapel Royal Hampton Court he was cast as Third Boy in Mozart’s The Magic Flute at the Royal Opera House under Sir Colin Davis.
John has since played operatic and other roles in Germany as well as Britain, and performed live on BBC Radio 3 while a post-graduate student at the Royal Northern College of Music. Not bad, considering he tried to make a go of rock and heavy metal bands as a teenager!
DCC’s concert will be led by the choir’s musical director Rufus Frowde, with accompanist Judi Kelly.
The concert starts at 4pm. Tickets (£10 and £5 for under-18s) are available from choir members or on the door and include tea and cakes after the performance. There will also be a collection for the choir’s current charity, REMAP South Herts, whose volunteers make equipment that solves problems of everyday living.
The Spring concert is just one of the choir’s performances in what promises to be another hectic year.
On Tuesday March 20, members will as in past years be joining school choirs and young soloists taking part in Dacorum in Song at St John’s church Boxmoor.
DCC sings for many charitable and social groups in the community, including the Wednesday Club at Hemel Hempstead Social Centre for the Blind on April 4.
A major new venture in the Autumn will be a joint concert with the Aeolian Singers on October 27 at St John’s, during which the two choirs will perform Bob Chilcott’s The Voyage, a work commissioned by Age UK Oxfordshire as part of a project to highlight and combat loneliness.
Dacorum Community Choir has more than a hundred members but we are a friendly informal group. We meet to practise each Tuesday morning in term time at the Church of the Resurrection behind Grovehill shops.
No auditions or experience are necessary. Even if you’ve never sung before, just turn up and find out how much fun it can be. For more information visit www.dacorumcommunitychoir.org
Press Release dated February 2018
Ringing the changes at the friendly choir
Dacorum Community Choir will have undergone a quiet revolution in its leadership by the end of this term, with only one committee member still in place compared with this time last year. And following a hectic festive season of charitable fundraising, it has ambitious plans for the months ahead.
DCC’s new chairperson is Angela Preston, who joined the choir about five years ago. She said: “I’ve loved every minute of it. With no previous singing experience apart from school choirs, I’ve made new friends and learned new skills, thanks to our musical director Rufus Frowde and accompanist Judi Kelly.”
A member of Grovehill Future Forum, Angela — who used to teach Maths at the Cavendish school — can also sometimes be seen on a 5km park run in Gadebridge or volunteering on a restored steam locomotive (6201 Princess Elizabeth).
She takes over from Abbots Langley resident Sally Davies who said: “I’ve had a lot of fun doing the job for the past three years and I’m grateful for all the help I’ve had from an active committee, as well as from Rufus and Judi.”
Angela was previously membership secretary, a role now being taken on by Elizabeth Cooper. (Other genders are available! We are a mixed voice choir and three committee members are men.)
New members are always welcome although the choir has reached its target of 100. We meet on Tuesday mornings (9.40 to 11.30) at the Church of the Resurrection, Grovehill, HP2 6BJ. More details at www.dacorumcommunitychoir.org
We sing a wide range of material from classical and religious to pop and ‘songs from the shows’. We learn on the ‘repeat after me’ principle, so it’s not necessary to be able to read music, though Judi offers optional lessons after some rehearsals.
As well as singing for the sheer fun of it, we give two main concerts each year and a number of smaller performances, for example in local retirement homes. We’ve also sung in the Royal Albert Hall and the chapel of the Houses of Parliament.
After our Spring concert in May, some members will visit Ludlow in Shropshire and sing with a local male voice choir in July. We’ll also be gearing up to perform a piece specially written by Rufus and Grovehill’s Rev. Austin Janes to mark our tenth anniversary in 2019.
As our name suggests, we aim to participate in the wider community. At Christmas, we took part in events that raised more than £2000 for charities such as Age UK, Rennie Grove hospice care, Hope for Children and REMAP South Herts.
It was a real Ding Dong of a Christmas and recordings of our seasonal fare including Ding Dong Merrily on High and I Saw Three Ships have been added to our website.
Press release dated 19th December 2017
Busy? Bonkers might be a better word
St Mary’s Norman nave had certainly never heard anything quite like it: intertwined with traditional Christmas carols and a bit of Bach and Widor were Baa-Baa Black Sheep, Jingle Bells, the Muppet theme and Rudolf the Red-Nosed Reindeer.
Guest organist Richard Hills, master of the Wurlitzer and classic organ alike, demonstrated his improvisational wizardry in a Christmas medley for Dacorum Community Choir’s carol concert at the church in Hemel Hempstead’s old High Street on December 16.
The Muppets had been mentioned light-heartedly in rehearsal when Richard appeared at the organ loft window as if in the royal box at the TV puppets’ theatre.
Musical director Rufus Frowde, who described Richard’s powers of improvisation as “extraordinary”, had also mentioned the nursery rhyme as a favourite of his son Joseph who was in the audience.
At the end of the evening, a collection for Remap South Herts — the choir’s current annual charity — raised £330.
The concert rounded off a hectic pre-Christmas season for Dacorum Community Choir, including singing outside a supermarket, at a vineyard, a railway station and in a residential home.
“You must be the busiest choir in the country; the last couple of weeks have been quite bonkers!” said Rufus Frowde, thanking members for their commitment.
A new event for DCC this Christmas was Carols in the Park at Leavesden, which raised more than £350 for OneYMCA, supporting its work for the homeless.
“Thank you so much for giving your time through snow and rain and cold,“ said OneYMCA’s Chris Moffat. (The skies were clear during the carol singing, but not while the tech team volunteers were putting up our newly-funded gazebo, staging and other equipment.)
“You sang angelically, you looked fabulous in the fairy-lit gazebo, and it really made the event very special,” said Chris.
DCC chairman Sally Davies added: “The new equipment has really proved its worth this Christmas.” You can see photos of us all lit up in the gazebo on our Facebook page.
Rehearsals resume on Tuesday January 9 (9.40 to 11.30am) at the Church of the Resurrection behind Grovehill shops at Henry Wells Square, Hemel Hempstead HP2 6BJ. No experience is necessary. Just turn up and enjoy the fun of singing with a large but friendly group.
Press release dated 23rd November 2017
Organist of note adds to a Mysterious Night
An organist whose career has bridged the gap between playing Wurlitzers and classical organs is to play at a Christmas carol concert in Hemel Hempstead.
Richard Hills will perform with Dacorum Community Choir at St Mary’s church in the old High Street on Saturday December 16 (4pm).
Richard, a former Organ Scholar at Exeter College, Oxford, has appeared several times on television and radio, won numerous awards on both sides of the Atlantic and made several recordings.
DCC chairman Sally Davies said, “We’re really privileged to have such a highly-regarded organist perform with us.”
Tickets for the concert, which include refreshments, are available at £10 and £5 for under-18s on the door or from 07890 288 859. There will be a collection for Remap South Herts, whose volunteers provide practical solutions to everyday problems for people who need help.
The carol service, entitled How Mysterious a Night, is the climax of another hectic pre-Christmas programme for Dacorum Community Choir.
Members will sing at a seasonal event at Frithsden Vineyard on November 25; an advent service at the Church of the Resurrection, Grovehill, on December 3; and a carol concert in aid of Hope for Children the following day at St John’s Boxmoor.
They’ll greet commuters arriving at Berkhamsted station on December 6. The official switch-on of festive lights at Queen’s Square in Adeyfield will be helped along with song on December 8 and DCC will support AgeUK’s fundraising outside Sainsbury’s at Woodhall Farm on December 9.
We’ll entertain residents at Queensway House, Hemel Hempstead, on December 12 and provide Christmas Carols in the Park at Leavesden Country Park in Abbots Langley on December 13.
More about the choir at dacorumcommunitychoir.org
Press Release dated 5th October 2017
Choir’s wet weather boost
Dacorum Community Choir and its audiences will benefit from one of the latest grants to be awarded by the Boxmoor Trust, especially in wet weather.
The grant of £1,970 will provide equipment including staging, a wireless headset and speaker, and a gazebo.
As well as sheltering the singers, the gazebo will protect the keyboard (bought with a previous grant from the trust) and other electronic gear in damp weather.
“It will mean we can accept outdoor bookings where no shelter is available, which we’ve had to turn down in the past,” said DCC chairman Sally Davies.
“Getting out into the community is an important part of what we do and this generous grant from Boxmoor Trust will enable us to reach more people.
“We’re already known as the friendly choir; maybe we’ll also be called the all-weather choir, who knows?”
The collapsible staging plus stage speaker will help the choir, the conductor and audiences to see and hear each other better. With the wireless headset, musical director Rufus Frowde will be able to communicate with the choir and audience hands-free, avoiding problems with interference from a hand-held microphone.
As well as singing for their own enjoyment, DCC give performances in care homes and clubs. They have also sung in the open at venues such as Sunnyside Rural Trust’s Hemel Food Garden, in aid of the Air Ambulance in Gadebridge Park and at various Christmas Lights events in Hemel Hempstead.
The choir has around a hundred members and meets to practise each Tuesday morning in term time at the Church of the Resurrection behind Grovehill shops. No auditions or experience are necessary. Just turn up and enjoy singing in a friendly informal group.
There’s lots more information at www.dacorumcommunitychoir.org
Press Release dated 1st October 2017
Giving old Henry the heave-ho?
No one likes a complaint, but the best kind is one that comes from inside the organisation and is already being addressed even before it has been made. And better still if it’s not really a complaint at all, but a constructive suggestion.
Towards the end of the first committee meeting of term, we opened up the Suggestion Box to find a single item inside from a true stalwart – the founder chairman of DCC no less – who has the best interests of the choir at heart.
Could we, she suggested, avoid singing some of our regular numbers in circumstances where they are not really appropriate?
She had in mind two songs in particular: Adieu Sweet Amaryllis – a kind of 1598 version of Breaking Up is Hard to Do, and Pastime With Good Company, apparently a favourite song of Henry VIII, listing some of his preferred leisure activities and asserting his determination to pursue them come what may.
Both are challenging ditties for the choir, and for audiences too, because of their intricate rhythms and obscure vocabulary. So perhaps they’re not guaranteed to go down a storm at, for example, a fire station open day or a charity garden fundraiser. (To be fair, the small but appreciative audience at one such recent event demanded an encore at the end of a programme which included Pastime.)
Better-known songs from modern musicals are more likely to be popular in such venues, the contributor to our Suggestion Box suggested.
As luck would have it, we had already introduced two such hits to our repertoire, Sunrise Sunset from Fiddler on the Roof, and Comedy Tonight from A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum.
And on the very first day of the autumn term, we’d begun to learn songs from more recent musical theatre which, although less famous, deserve to be better known. Listen out at our future performances for Corner of the Sky, from the 2013 Broadway musical Pippin, and Seasons of Love from the rock musical Rent — a present-day take on La Boheme.
You can never please all of the people all of the time. We all have our favourites, singers and audience members alike. Our musical director, who obviously loves the job, has the tricky task of choosing repertoire that develops and demonstrates the choir’s competence, broadens our musical understanding, surprises, stimulates and entertains.
In the past, it’s ranged from world music from the Congo to the Clyde, through the Beatles to Bach, not forgetting the Flying Pickets and Purcell. But for the time being perhaps – in fire stations and greenhouses at least — it could be adieu to Tudorbethan madrigals.
More about DCC at www.dacorumcommunitychoir.org
Press Release dated September 2017
Back to la vie quotidienne
By the time you read this, we’ll be in the midst of what the French call « la Rentrée ». To us more prosaic Anglo-Saxons, it’s just “back to work” or the start of a new school year. You could translate it as ‘Back to the daily routine, the daily grind, the usual slog.’
Alas, there was no holiday in France for me this year, though I did enjoy an extended weekend with other members of Dacorum Community Choir in the Netherlands in May and at the time of writing I’m about to head off to Scotland for a week while it’s still part of the UK.
Memo to self: make a point of going back to France before Brexit. The French have happily waved us through while we’ve been EU members, but you can bet your bottom Euro they could be bloody-minded after we leave. Businesses may fret about Brexit’s effects, but tourists will fume when they’re delayed at the border, assuming the plunge in the pound doesn’t reduce British tourists to a trickle by then.
Although our exotic neighbours across the Channel increasingly use English words in everyday life, they have a knack of coining terms which are virtually untranslatable into English, either because they’re so pithy or so vague and general: nuance, finesse, entente, détente, milieu, sang froid, are among French expressions so useful that we’ve absorbed them into English. They’re just the right words. Mots justes, you might say. Strangely there seems to be no equivalent for bloody-minded.
To the British ear, « La Rentrée » sounds rather grandiose, over-egging the pudding, gilding the lily, overstating the obvious. You could translate it straightforwardly as “the return”, but the alternative rendering “re-entry” is much more dramatic, like returning from space, the family spacecraft risking skidding off the atmosphere because the angle of approach is too oblique or burning up because it’s too steep.
Safely back on Earth in Dacorum, the start of a new term for our community choir is a time to glance back briefly and look ahead to the autumn term.
During the summer break a group of twenty or so members ‘went out into the community’, as is our wont, to sing for elderly residents and visitors at Compass Point in Northchurch. And we’re entertaining the general public at the open day at Hemel fire station in Queensway on Saturday September 9.
Our Tuesday morning rehearsals re-start on September 12 (9.40am) and at the end of that week we’ll again be supporting our current annual charity, Sunnyside Rural Trust, at its autumn open day in the Hemel Food Garden in Two Waters Road on Saturday September 16.
Looking further ahead, after our annual quiz at Warners End Community Centre on Friday October 6 and our AGM on October 10, we’ll be providing entertainment at St Mary’s (Redbourn) Day Centre on Wednesday October 25 and singing at a Friendship Tea organised by Age UK at Phyllis Courtnage House in Highfield, Hemel Hempstead, on Friday November 3. (Please check our website as dates may change.)
Details of our programme in the run-up to Christmas will appear in Boxmoor Direct nearer the time, but a high point will undoubtedly be our Christmas Concert at St Mary’s church in Hemel Hempstead High Street on Saturday December 16 (4pm).
We hope you’ll enjoy hearing us at one or more of these events. Better still come and sing with us. You’ll find more about why we’re known as the friendly daytime choir at www.dacorumcommunitychoir.org
Press Release dated 23rd July 2017
Singing our heads off
Dacorum Community Choir could soon have a new logo. But how do you sum up the choir in a visual image, that’s just one of the problems. And should the choir have a new name while we’re at it?
As DCC broke up for the summer holidays, members of the committee were beginning to ponder such weighty matters as the choir’s image and identity.
Somehow or another we’ve managed for nearly a decade without a logo as such, not counting the “singing heads”, designed by former choir member Clara Willmott, which feature on a banner at many of our performance.
The singing heads nicely sum up DCC’s diverse make-up, as well as the pleasure we get from singing together, and the concentration involved in doing so.
But they are a bit Radio Four. You know, “the kind of people who believe in recycling and picking up litter”, as an American commentator put it recently. Not that there’s anything wrong with either activity.
Maybe what’s needed is a symbol that avoids depicting the human form altogether. One suggestion under consideration is a kind of oak tree made up of musical notes. It would fit in nicely with the Tudor oak which is part of Dacorum’s corporate image and all the values of solidity and heritage which oaks entail.
But, despite the support we are grateful to get from local councillors, we’re not a branch of the borough council and neither do we have any connection with a certain political party that reworked oak trees as part of its image re-vamp.
Maybe in this post-Blair, post-Cameron and soon-perhaps-to-be (at time of writing) post-May era, we’re moving out of the age of obsession with image into greater concern with matters of substance. Who knows, in a year or two, maybe we’ll even recognize that we’re a country whose future is unavoidably bound up with Europe?
But until the new term begins, and perhaps some time afterwards, weighty affairs will just have to wait, to quote a lyric from Sondheim’s Comedy Tonight which is in our current repertoire. In the meantime, the choir’s name stays as it is and says it all: our members come from all over Dacorum and Community is our middle name.
Members of DCC will be singing in the community during the holiday period, on Thursday August 10 at Compass Point in Northchurch (2.30pm).
Our autumn term begins on Tuesday September 12 (9.40 to 11.30am). We meet every Tuesday morning during school term at the Church of the Resurrection, Grovehill Community Centre, behind the shops at Henry Wells Square, Hemel Hempstead HP2 6BJ.
No experience of singing is necessary, no auditions are required, and you don’t even have to read music. Just turn up and see what fun it can be. More details at www.dacorumcommunitychoir.org
Press release dated 27th June 2017
Side by Side
Members of Dacorum Community Choir will help to mark the fortieth anniversary of Grovehill Community Centre and the Church of the Resurrection, at the church, which is the choir’s regular rehearsal venue, on Thursday July 13 at 5pm (tickets £5 including tea and cakes).
Side by Side, the name we’ve given to our concert, emerged by one of those mysterious processes of osmosis that sometimes produce results better than might have been expected.
There were those who thought it risked conjuring up comical memories of the 1930s Crazy Gang:
Oh we ain’t got a barrel of money
Maybe we’re ragged and funny
But we travel along
Singing a song,
Side by Side.
But the title is highly appropriate in a number of ways.
Grovehill church exists literally side by side in the same building as the community centre for Grovehill, a bold and practical 1970s experiment which is unique to this neighbourhood of Hemel Hempstead and seems to have worked well.
The church part of the building is shared by several religious denominations without undue spillage of blood on the carpet.
The community choir is not a church choir, but our partnership with the Church of the Resurrection is mutually beneficial. Not least when a stalwart group of ladies provide us with delicious refreshments after our practice sessions in return for contributions to the church’s good causes. It’s as close as you can get to having your cake and eating it.
Now there is talk of possible collaboration between our founding musical director Rufus Frowde and the minister, the Rev. Austin Janes (who has the reputation of being something of a creative wordsmith), on a composition to mark the choir’s tenth anniversary.
A couple of years ago, the jazz pianist and composer Pete Letanka, son of a local doctor, wrote a modern version of Land of Hope and Glory aimed at youth choirs. It’s now part of DCC’s repertoire.
It starts with the words “We will tell you a story of a dream we can become, a land of hope and glory standing shoulder to shoulder as one”, and ends “Unified, Side by Side, Dignified we are one”.
Following the public’s response to the recent terrorist atrocities and what appears to have been an atrocity by wilful neglect at Grenfell Tower, “Side by Side” seems to capture the national mood of the moment.
Those of a religious bent might say the Spirit moves in mysterious ways.
Press Release dated 22nd May 2017
A world premiere and some home truths
Travel broadens the mind, they say. A weekend mini-tour to Amsterdam was certainly a learning experience for thirty or so DCC members plus supporters.We were warmly welcomed in a country where everything seems to work.
OK, so the heating was off in the cavernous Catholic basilica in nearby Haarlem where we made our debut, but we were shown to a comfortable recently-renovated undercroft with plentiful hot drinks and loos. (More experienced touring choirs know this is not always the case.)
Knocking knees notwithstanding (and it wasn’t just the cold), we gave the first-ever performance of a short mass in Latin written by our musical director Rufus Frowde, which he’d given to the choir only the previous week. Et in terra pax, hominibus bonae voluntatis. Peace and goodwill to all men. Even to musical directors.
A soprano spoke for most of us, as we filed off the altar steps. “Well that’s something I’ve never done before.” There was a warm glow of achievement that we’d pulled it off. All the more so when the officiating clergyman described us as Meistersingers. He was flattering us, of course, especially as much more illustrious choirs are scheduled to sing there.
The following morning, at a lively ecumenical Protestant church in the centre of Amsterdam, an even warmer welcome included coffee and stropwaffels. And memorable words from the pastor:
“You are from a very beautiful district in England …. with green pastures, old villages and churches. It is our pleasure that you are here to sing in a manner that everyone can sing with you without much study or difficult rehearsals. Just for the pleasure of singing together and feel that you can do something that makes community”.
That sums us up nicely!
Our singing in English, Dutch and Hebrew, with Judi Kelly accompanying us, was broadcast live on the internet. An edited recording will soon be on our website www.dacorumcommunitychoir.org . We’re also on Facebook now.
And so back to England. The escalator out of order at Luton airport, chaos worthy of a banana republic at passport control. Hemel’s green pastures and pot-holes beckoning. Better footpaths being promised by candidates for the county council, as if in some distant Utopia. Our EU neighbours take for granted decent road surfaces, pavements and even cycleways; we struggle because of our fetish about cutting public spending.
It was good to be home, as always, and to have something to grumble about.
But there was no time to waste. We had to gear up quickly for our Spring concert the following Saturday, which drew an appreciative audience of more than 130 who joined in the fun of our final number, Great Day.
The whole choir back together, singing the songs we love to sing … and doing something that makes community.RTS
Press release dated 12th May 2017
Choir go Dutch
More than 30 members of Dacorum Community Choir and their partners were warmly welcomed in the Netherlands on their most ambitious foreign mini-tour to date.
DCC provided the choir for a Saturday evening mass in St Bavo’s Roman Catholic cathedral in Haarlem and joined the local choir at the Dominicus ecumenical Protestant church in the centre of Amsterdam the following morning, accompanied at the piano by Judi Kelly.
The Haarlem service included the first-ever performance of a Missa Brevis composed specially for the visit by DCC’s musical director Rufus Frowde.
The performances involved singing in Latin, English, Dutch and even Hebrew, and afterwards Rufus praised the way choir members had coped with differing and unfamiliarsurroundings and forms of service.
The dean of St Bavo’s in Haarlem described DCC as “meistersingers” – praise indeed in view of the prominent cathedral and university choirs currently due to visit the basilica from Britain.
The pastor at the church in Amsterdam welcomed the Dacorum choir as having come from “a very beautiful district of England with green pastures, old villages and churches”. DCC, he said, “sing in a manner that everyone can sing with you without much study or difficult rehearsals, just for the pleasure of singing together and feel that you can do something that makes community.”
The following Saturday, the full DCC choir sang to an appreciative audience of more than 130 at their Spring concert, called “Swing Time,” at Hemel Hempstead Methodist Church in Northridge Way. The programme consisted mostly of the choir’s more usual varied repertoire of popular songs, ending – as is often the case – with Rufus showing the audience how easy it is to join in.
The choir meets at 9.40 on Tuesday mornings during term time at the Church of the Resurrection in Grovehill. No previous experience of singing is necessary. Just turn up! Further details at www.dacorumcommunitychoir.org .
Press release dated 22nd April 2017
Will you remember where you were when Mrs May announced a snap general election? Maybe not. But I do. I was singing at a specially-extended Dacorum Community Choir rehearsal.
Maybe my phone beeped. If so, I didn’t hear it. My wife announced there was big news as I got home from a post-rehearsal committee meeting, thankfully not too extended.
Big news? A surprise election hadn’t crossed my mind. Later I found a message from our daughter, saying thanks for an enjoyable Easter and by the way …
How come no-one in the choir had mentioned a snap poll? Probably because they didn’t know about it either. Are we the largest group of people in Hemel Hempstead not to check our iPhones for more than two hours, in an age when no-one seems able to cross the street without doing so?
After a lifetime as a journalist, I became probably the last newsman in England to hear the Big News.
But then life is full of surprises, large and small. Especially at Easter, it seems. Like the surprises our three-year-old grand-daughter could hardly bear to keep from her parents. They knew well in advance that the mega secret involved hard-boiled eggs, paints, stencils and help from Gran.
And then there was the surprise birthday card for my upcoming birthday. As visiting grand-daughter and her parents prepared to leave for home, she raced upstairs shouting: ‘’ We mustn’t forget to give Grand-dad his surprise birthday card Mummy! ‘’
The evening of the election announcement, I was watching a MASH episode in which the American army medics celebrated a reported ceasefire in the Korean war. The unit padre Fr Mulcahy led silent prayers of thanks and remembrance of the fallen and then announced a swift return to the ‘’secular celebrations’’. It turned out to be a false dawn. A ceasefire wasn’t agreed till later, and more than 60 years later there’s still no peace agreement in Korea.
On Easter Saturday, the Guardian’s headline had been ‘’China urges US and North Korea to step back from the brink of war’’. Mercifully, at the time of writing and hopefully as you are reading this, war hasn’t broken out (again). That would really have been breaking news I wouldn’t want to hear.
As it is, and despite Mrs May’s announcement, the world keeps turning – and the choir begins its new term.
Our regular Tuesday morning rehearsal had been extended so that, as well as practising Blue Moon, Amazing Grace and other favourites for our Spring concert (see ad in this edition), those of us who are visiting Holland this month could familiarize ourselves with a repertoire more appropriate to cathedrals.
Happily I can report that our preparations have been going well, with no major surprises. As a Dutch saying goes, Geen nieuws is goed nieuws.
Press release dated 22nd March 2017
Having a Swinging Time
Dacorum Community Choir’s next public performance, at Hemel Hempstead Methodist Church on May 6 (4pm), promises to be a journey through some musical favourites old and new.
Beware when a musical director muses about exploring interesting rhythms.
The songs you’re practising may seem to be the normal sort of stuff, but before you know it, he’s suggesting hiring a saxophonist, a drummer and a double bass player and calling the next concert Swing Time.
Despite its name, our Spring concert isn’t a jazz gig.
The programme ranges from popular classics such as Blue Moon and Goodnight Sweetheart, through Amazing Grace, via a modern version of Hope and Glory, to Pastime with Good Company — a kind of Tudor I Did It My Way.
It’s attributed to Henry VIII, though nobody knows for sure whether he wrote it. As one wag observed, if Henry said he’d written something, nobody argued, for fear they might find themselves with no body.
The concert venue, Hemel Hempstead Methodist Church, in Northridge Way, HP1 2AU, has become a sort of home from home for the community choir. It’s where we recorded the sample of songs you can hear by clicking on Our Music on our website www.dacorumcommunitychoir.org
But the programme for May 6, subject as always to changes up to the last minute, gives a more comprehensive selection of what we sing.
Tickets, which cost L10 (L5 for under18s) and include tea and cakes, are available by calling 07890 288 859 or at the door.
There’ll also be a collection for DCC’s charity this year, Sunnyside Rural Trust, which provides training in horticulture and other practical activities for people with learning difficulties at three sites in Dacorum.
Press Release dated March 2017
A spring in our step
Our programme for Spring is taking shape, with rehearsals under way for Dacorum in Song on Tuesday March 14 as well as for a weekend mini-tour in Amsterdam at the end of April.
Dacorum in Song takes place at St John’s Church, Boxmoor, HP1 1JY, starting at 6pm and lasting just over an hour. This year it features children from South Hill school in Hemel Hempstead, and St Thomas More and Greenway schools in Berkhamsted, as well as the community choir – a joint celebration of the joys of singing by young and not so young alike.
It’ll be a varied programme, with short sets from each group, followed by an ensemble piece. Expect some audience participation too!
Some 30 DCC members and partners are planning to take part in the Amsterdam trip, with two performances planned. We’re even learning the Dutch words to a 16th century round to impress our hosts (hopelijk — that’s Dutch for hopefully!)
On Saturday May 6 (4pm), not long after we return, we’ll be giving our Spring Concert at Hemel Hempstead Methodist Church in Northridge Way, HP1 2AU.
This was the venue for the recording last summer of songs which can now be heard via our website www.dacorumcommunitychoir where you can get further information about us.
Click on Our Music for three pieces which give an indication of the range of our repertoire, from a challenging 17th century round by Henry Purcell to a Russian traditional folk song about a birch tree and Follow the Heron, a modern Scottish song by Karine Polwart.
We’ll be celebrating the 40th anniversary of another modern church on Thursday July 13 (5pm): the Church of the Resurrection at Grovehill HP2 6BJ.
We meet there on Tuesday mornings during school term from 9.40 to 11.30. No auditions or experience are necessary. To experience the therapeutic effects of singing just turn up and follow the “sing it after me” technique of our charismatic musical director Rufus Frowde.
There are about a hundred of us altogether, but we’re not known as “the friendly choir” for nothing!
Press Release dated February 2017
DCC – a bunch of Loony Lefties?
Accessibility, Diversity and Inclusivity are buzzwords of the current age, despite the nation’s recent lurch to the political right. As a community choir, we are non-political as well as non-religious, after all “Girls just want to have fun” and that goes for tenors and basses too. But political and religious concerns figured in our first committee meeting of 2017. Is our choir a vipers’ nest of socialist radicals, a sanctuary for progressive liberals or the seat of social reactionism?
Our chairman, bless her, can hardly be described as a lingering vestige of the Loony Left. After all she long ago opted to continue with the traditional title of the office despite her gender, preferring its ancient dignity to any possible confusion with an article of furniture or a charwoman. (She does, however, get things done, so she might correctly be described as a ‘woman wot does’.)
When our committee’s deliberations turned to what to do as a social event later in the year, a suggestion was made to organise a coach party to the variety show extravaganza at Thursford in Norfolk, a hugely popular entertainment venue which grew out of a museum for fairground organs and steam engines.
The idea was received with interest, but our resident representative of the Red Ken Livingstone Liberation Front raised a strong objection. “Is it inclusive?” she asked. After all, tickets would be pricey and then there was the cost of the charabanc. We shouldn’t take decisions that involved too much expense for some members, thus excluding them.
“I didn’t hear anyone object when we decided on a choir weekend in Amsterdam” chipped in another member. The committee then embarked on a whistle-stop tour of old ground, as committees are wont to do, assessing the relative merits of past barn dances, quiz nights and murder mystery evenings, who went to them, who didn’t and why. Eventually a decision was taken to investigate alternatives, and there the idea may well rest in peace.
The committee then came to reviewing the contents of the choir’s Suggestion Box in which the headline act was “Could we please sing more carols next Christmas?” Further evidence of the choir becoming a hotbed of dangerous radicalism?
It was a fair point, conceded our musical director. For one reason or another our recent programmes for the festive season had been built around Epiphany and Advent, and the opportunity had also been taken of pursuing a broader repertoire to take account of the festive feelings of non-believers. So adding a bit more christmas to Christmas next time round seemed a perfectly reasonable idea.
Thus enlightenment rules and harmony is preserved in our community choir.
Press Release dated January 2017
Chances are, by the time you read this, that you have been wassailed out and back again. But at the time of writing, we’re still full of it – and not done yet, as far as the feasting and merry-making are concerned.
Our Gloucestershire wassail has been performed in venues around the district in recent weeks and our ever-enthusiastic musical director Rufus Frowde has even begun teaching us another one ready for next Christmas !
We’re not a lot clearer, however, what wassailing is or was. His best guess is that it combined carol singing with Hallowe’en-type trick or treating: singing in return for food, drink or plain cash.
Collins dictionary explains a bit more: “a toast of good health made at festivities when much drinking takes place, or singing carols from door to door.”
The Gloucestershire version has an agricultural tone, calling for The Master’s crops and cattle to thrive so that he (and the workers eventually) benefit from a hearty pie and strong beer, not the “small” or weak stuff. A kind of trickle-down feudal economic model.
The new wassail we’re learning also has charity beginning near home: “We are not daily beggars that beg from door to door, But we are neighbours’ children, Whom you have seen before….”
We haven’t resorted to singing from door to door with menaces this Christmas. Perhaps Dacorum isn’t as ready for that tradition as rural Gloucestershire of yore.
But when it came to giving, the denizens of Dacorum showed themselves to be a big-hearted bunch in response to our full festive programme.
On December 3, a service to mark Advent at Holy Trinity Church, Leverstock Green, contributed more than £80 to our annual charity, Sunnyside Rural Trust, which provides training in horticulture and other practical activities for people with learning disabilities at three sites in Dacorum.
Later in the month, commuters dug deep in their pockets in aid of Rennie Grove Hospice Care as we met them at Berkhamsted railway station. (The booking hall has a surprisingly good acoustic.)
There were spontaneous cheers for our rendering of the Twelve Days of Christmas (with actions led by accompanist Judi Kelly) in the Marlowes Centre and at Tesco’s superstore in Jarman Park, where we sang in aid of Age UK.
Charitable giving lives on – and how!
Press Release dated 21st November 2016
Busy Christmas for Community Choir
Dacorum Community Choir’s hectic festive season begins on Saturday November 26, when members will sing at Frithsden Vineyard’s Christmas Fair, which begins at 4pm.
Mulled wine, barbecue, tea and cakes will help warm gift-shoppers as the Christmas lights are switched on.
The run-up to Christmas gathers pace with a service to mark Advent at Holy Trinity Church, Leverstock Green on Saturday December 3.
The event begins early at 5pm with children from Leverstock Green Primary school also taking part.
A delightful and varied programme of religious and secular music has been assembled by DCC’s musical director Rufus Frowde and accompanist Judi Kelly under the title Let the Sound Echo Round.
Sought-after soprano Charlotte-Anne Shipley is also contributing to the programme. Since reading music at Oxford University, where she held a choral scholarship, Charlotte-Anne has sung a wide range of operatic and classical parts in Italy as well as nearer home.
Tickets at £10 and £5 (under 18s) are available from choir members or by calling 07890 288859.
At the end of the service there will be a retiring collection in aid of Sunnyside Rural Trust, DCC’s charity for the coming year, which provides training in horticulture and other practical activities for people with learning disabilities at three sites in Dacorum.
Members of the community choir will be supporting other charities as well with several further activities during the festive season.
They’ll be singing to commuters returning to Berkhamsted station on Friday December 9 in aid of Rennie Grove Hospice Care. And the following weekend, they’ll be supporting collections for Age UK at Tesco in Jarman’s Park (on the afternoon of Saturday December 17) and in Marlowes (on Sunday December 18).
Choir members are also entertaining residents of Queensway House (Tuesday December 13 2pm) and completing DCC’s Christmas schedule with a Community Carol Service at Grovehill Community Centre on Sunday December 18 at 4pm.
DCC rehearses on Tuesday mornings during school term from 9.40 to 11.30, normally at the Church of the Resurrection behind Grovehill shops at Henry Wells Square, Hemel Hempstead HP2 6BJ.
Our repertoire ranges from Beatles to Bach, from the Flying Pickets to Purcell, via world music from the Congo to the Clyde.
No experience of singing is necessary. Just turn up at any time in the year and enjoy the fun, especially if you think you could be a tenor (of either sex)!
Further details, including occasional changes of rehearsal venue, are on our website www.dacorumcommunitychoir.org
Press Release dated 3rd November 2016
We Will Remember Them, a moving composition for junior choirs and orchestra, which was premiered at the Hertfordshire Schools Gala in the Royal Albert Hall in March 2014, will be the centre-piece of a special service for Remembrance Sunday, led by Dacorum Community Choir.
Few who were present at the gala concert, including members of DCC who also took part, have forgotten the experience of seeing and hearing hundreds of local schoolchildren massed around the tiers of that imposing Victorian amphitheatre sing the familiar words “We will remember them.”
You can hear and watch it yourself on YouTube, posted by the composer Will Todd https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GgDEFvFfPDM
Basing this ten-minute piece on the poems of Laurence Binyon and A.E.Houseman, he marvellously manages to achieve a work which is reverent and respectful, emotive but at the same time unmawkish, solemn, yet jaunty and even hopeful.
It was commissioned for the Herts Music Service by Rufus Frowde, who is the founder director of DCC and conducted the massed school choirs and orchestra at the gala.
Geographical references in Houseman’s A Shropshire Lad were subtly adapted for Hertfordshire audiences, but Binyon’s phrases may be better-known:
They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old. Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn. At the going down of the sun, and in the morning, we shall remember them, remember them….
The sung refrain builds to an insistent spoken chant: “Remember Them, Remember Them, Remember Them”, like a fanfare, as if it’s an injunction not to forget.
The Remembrance Sunday service (at the Church of the Resurrection, behind the shops at Henry Wells Square, Grovehill , HP2 6BJ on November 13th at 6.30) will lack the grandeur of the event at the Albert Hall. But there were lumps in the throat and tears in a few eyes as we began rehearsing a few weeks ago.
This may not be surprising, but it is curious.
Relatively few of us now have any memory of war, but in later life most of us have had some experience of personal loss and collective grief. Most of the children at the gala concert were mercifully too young to have experienced either. So who or what are we and they remembering, and why?
Can we remember someone we’ve never known? Does remembrance have to be personal?
Not being able to forget the loss of individuals is sad. A much-missed parent. Or Charlie, the eight-year-old suddenly struck down by anaphylactic shock, whose grandparents are members of our choir and in whose name DCC has raised more than £1000 for the local charity Charlie’s Gift.
Remembering individuals or large numbers of people we never knew in the determination that mistakes of the past should not be repeated can be hopeful.
The dead and injured of two world wars and more recent conflicts. Soldiers and civilians. A Syrian child slumped dazed, dusty and bloodied in an ambulance. A toddler’s body washed up on a Greek beach. Aberfan. Hillsborough.
Remembrance is more complicated the more you think about it. Personal or anonymous. Always sad, but sometimes hopeful and positive.
Press Release dated 20th September 2016
BOOM! — It’s us you can hear
DCC resorts to some technical wizardry
Singing in the community presents its own special challenges.
Performing in Gadebridge Park during the summer, in support of Herts Air Ambulance, we found ourselves trying to sing above the noise of generators, fairground rides and excited youngsters.
Sirens, bells and heavy metal cutters provided the background to our participation at the recent open day in the large hangar-like space of Hemel Hempstead fire station.
And already fondly remembered in DCC folklore are our performances in the agricultural ambience of a marquee at the Herts County Show and a village fete where we sang among the stalls and the shunting of a model railway layout.
Not that we’re complaining. It’s good for us to adapt to varied venues. And singing in the community is one of the reasons we exist: sharing what we enjoy doing, promoting the benefits of singing together and giving something back to our roots.
But when we sing in the community we can sometimes find ourselves competing with the community to make ourselves heard!
Fortunately, we’re now being helped to do that thanks to a generous donation of £500 presented by Carol Smith of the local Lions Club after our gig at Hemel fire station.
Luckily too, one of our members, Doug Forster, is a bit of a technical wizard, to whom specifying, ordering and rigging a sound system is no more of a problem than setting up and maintaining the choir’s website www.dacorumcommunitychoir.org
No sooner had the committee taken the decision to buy a pair of boom microphones, than they were shipped from Denmark and being demonstrated to members after our first rehearsal of the summer term. Even hardened committee members were astonished at how quickly things can happen sometimes!
At the end of that week, one of the booms was to have been deployed for the first time when we sang at Sunnyside Rural Trust’s Food Garden in Hemel Hempstead on September 17th; in the end, though, the weather changed dramatically and we kept it safely tucked away in the dry.
The Trust, which provides training in horticulture and other practical activities at three sites in Dacorum for people with learning disabilities, is the choir’s chosen charity for the coming year.
Efforts are under way to find suitable secure storage for the equipment we’re beginning to accumulate: not just microphone booms, but speakers and speaker stands, keyboard, keyboard stand, piano stool, advertising banner etc.
Boom mics and sound systems are mainly for big spaces and outdoor events. So don’t worry, if you invite us to sing for your organisation, we won’t turn your meeting into the Pyramid stage at Glastonbury.
Press release dated 22nd June 2016
Happy Birthday Your Majesty – and us!
In a busy year of birthdays and anniversaries, our 7th birthday when it comes in a few months’ time may well be marked only by a cuppa and a slice of cake if we’re lucky. But nonetheless it should find us in good heart and voice. Or as Henry Purcell put it: “in sweet delight of time and tune.”
Not that we’re counting the years. As the 17th century composer (or his lyricist) went on to say: “I will not count the care times bring, I’ll only count my time to sing.”
He’d obviously readily grasped the idea that singing makes you feel better, though he hadn’t the evidence we have today that making music together in a group benefits your mental and physical health and wellbeing.
That still applied when we gathered in Queen’s Square first thing on Sunday June 12th to kick off Adeyfield’s celebrations of Her Majesty’s official 90th birthday in the pouring rain that makes England such a green and pleasant land in mid-June. “Long to rain over us,” as our chairman’s husband quipped.
There we were in our summer florals (yes, even some of the men!), the keyboard safely sheltering in the porch of the community centre as a handful of doughty spectators spurred us on, the mood helped by Radio Dacorum’s Matt Hatton dressed as Henry VIII. How lucky we were that the rain relented to a gently refreshing mizzle for our half hour of regal glory. We were certainly not counting the care times bring.
Our busy programme continued the following Thursday with a mini-concert at a Friendship Tea organised by Age UK Dacorum at Emma Rothschild Court in Tring.
Saturday July 23rd sees us singing in Hemel Hempstead shopping centre in support of AViD, the campaign for a community-based arts venue in Dacorum. (It’s later in the day that we plan to make our first recording for our website, as previously reported.)
The following weekend we’ll be singing at the Family Fun Day in Gadebridge Park in aid of the Herts Air Ambulance.
Although we’re known as “the friendly choir” and our Tuesday morning rehearsals are relaxed and informal there’s limited time to stop and chat. But the social life of the choir continues to develop. Following the success of barn dances and quizzes in previous years, another quiz is scheduled for October and planning is under way for a Murder Mystery Evening in November. Another innovation, a choir weekend in Amsterdam, is on the cards for next May.
The choir rehearses on Tuesday mornings during school term from 9.40 to 11.30, normally at the Church of the Resurrection behind Grovehill shops at Henry Wells Square, Hemel Hempstead HP2 6BJ. This term ends on July 19th.
There are no auditions, no experience is necessary. You don’t even need to read music or know what type of voice you have. Just turn up and give it a try! Further information, including occasional changes of venue, can be found at www.dacorumcommunitychoir.org , on Streetlife, or by contacting Dianne on 01442 874988.
Press Release dated 22nd May 2016
Dacorum Community Choir
Choir goes on record
Since “Community” is our middle name, it’s no surprise that performing for small groups such as social clubs and residents of sheltered housing schemes has become a staple, and welcome, part of our routine. But we also like to have a bigger project now and then. And this year, one new project is tying in rather neatly with another we’ve been hoping to do for some time.
On April 23rd, as previously reported, we marked St George’s Day with a concert at Hemel Hempstead Methodist church in Northridge Way – two innovations in one, as we’d never previously sung at the new church.
We were given such a warm welcome and were so impressed by the acoustic quality of the new building that we decided it would be an ideal place to make our first recording.
The idea is to record some tracks initially to put on our website www.dacorumcommunitychoir.org which will provide a small sample of our repertoire and a ready answer to the eternal question “What does your choir sing?” A CD or mp3 file may follow in due course.
At the last count we’d learnt well over two-hundred songs in the more than six years we’ve been in existence, so our recording will provide only a taster for potential audiences and new singers.
One thing that’s become clear is the extra demands of making a recording compared with rehearsing for a one-off performance.
There’s a tremendous buzz involved in any live event: an edge-of-the-seat ingredient. Weeks of learning and practising, followed by anticipation and even apprehension; “will it be alright on the night? Well, we’ll do our best”. As always, our MD Rufus Frowde instils calm, but there’s always an element of uncertainty. Anything can happen. The best of choirs makes mistakes; sometimes the running order on the day is not what had been decided beforehand, perhaps an extra chorus is added as we go along (Rufus likes to keep us on our toes!); maybe a member of the audience joins in enthusiastically but in his own individual fashion. On St George’s Day, a singer’s toddler provided an impromptu accompaniment to a cello solo with Lego Duplo percussion!
Whatever happens, with a live performance, it’s done, enjoyed and over when the conductor brings it to a close, the applause has ended and the thank-yous have been said. But with a recording, it’s different: the performance, once recorded, is there forever, more-or-less, warts and all. So our Tuesday morning practice sessions at the Church of the Resurrection in Grovehill have involved even more finessing and polishing recently.
The precise ‘play-list’ for the recording was still evolving at the time of writing. Tracks will probably be selected from material we’ve been rehearsing recently, which indicates the broad range of our repertoire from the Renaissance to the present day. There’s a round that was around in Shakespeare’s time, a Purcell number about the delights of keeping time and tune, and a 16th century Netherlander’s celebration in Italian of the beauty of singing. More modern works include Only You as performed by The Flying Pickets; a Scottish folk song, Follow the Heron; Guy Turner’s The Song Goes On; and a Hebrew hymn to peace and justice. Who knows, perhaps an Estonian lullaby or a Congolese song about loading bananas will creep in at the last minute?
Watch our website for news about the choir. And listen out too.
Press Release dated 23rd March 2016
Dacorum Community Choir
When you’re smiling …….
While it’s not unknown for us to be complimented on our performances, one recent comment particularly pleased us.
“We could see that everyone in the choir enjoyed singing,” wrote Felicity Welchman of Potten End Women’s Institute in a thank-you note after we’d sung for them recently.
We were especially grateful for this feedback because it showed our efforts at smiling more had worked!
Despite the enjoyment we get from singing, it doesn’t always come naturally. When you’re concentrating on learning words and music and remembering everything necessary to give your best, there’s a tendency to look a bit too serious.
Our Musical Director, Rufus Frowde, constantly encourages us to show our enjoyment through the expressions on our faces, particularly by “speaking through our eyes”.
“Imagine someone you know, but haven’t seen for ages, has just walked into the room and you’re pleased to see them; your eyes just light up in pleasant surprise,” says Rufus. That’s how we aim to look when we’re singing.
Now imagine the added demands of smiling, singing AND CLAPPING at the right time. Some time ago, we decided we needed someone to show us when to clap during a particular song that involved (hopefully) synchronised clapping.
Rufus can guide us when he’s conducting, but when our accompanist, Judi Kelly, deputises for him from the keyboard, she doesn’t – multi-talented as she is – have enough hands to play and clap simultaneously.
So our vice chairman, Dianne Drew, volunteered to pioneer the role that became known as the “clap-meister”.
Dianne is no stranger to smiling, but on the night in question, at the WI, it was Margaret Groome who stepped out front as clap-leader and chief smiler, beaming broadly and infectiously throughout, with the results kindly noted by Felicity Welchman.
As it happens, the following week, when the Community Choir performed with local children at the annual Dacorum In Song concert at St John’s church, Boxmoor, the Maple Grove school choir sang When You’re Smiling (the Whole World Smiles with You.) And being children, they seemed to manage to smile throughout without any effort at all.
Dacorum Community Choir’s next public performance is a concert of music to mark St George’s Day, on Saturday April 23rd (4pm) at Hemel Hempstead Methodist Church in Northridge Way. The soloist will be the talented young cellist Anna Menzies. Tickets (£10 and £5 for under-18s) include a good old British cuppa and cakes, and are available from choir members or by ringing 07890 288859. £1 from each ticket will be donated to Charlie’s Gift, the local charity that helps children whose lives are touched by adversity.
There’s more information about DCC at http://www.dacorumcommunitychoir.org
Press Release dated 16th February 2016
It’s in the bag for Evie
There was only one problem for retired local headmaster Stan Gillon when he won an attractive fabric music bag raffled by Dacorum Community Choir: his 11-year-old grand-daughter Evie Byford took a fancy to it !
And as it was Evie’s birthday that weekend, she just had to have the bag, especially as she’s no slouch herself musically, playing the flute, violin and piano, as well as singing.
The bag was made by choir member Janet Poll and the raffle raised £45 for Charlie’s Gift, the local charity which helps children affected by illness, bereavement, poverty, or special needs.
DCC have excelled themselves raising money for worthwhile causes in recent weeks, thanks to the generosity of local people.
The choir’s “Joyful Night” concert at St John’s Church, Boxmoor, just before Christmas raised more than £721 for Charlie’s Gift, a result which Nicole Fidler, trustee of the charity, described as “amazing”.
Another £38 had already been raised by some choir members at the Fishery Wharf Christmas market.
More than a thousand pounds was collected for Age UK outside Tesco at Jarman’s Park, where members of the choir sang on the Saturday before Christmas. Alex Labern of Age UK Dacorum said it was their most successful tin-rattling event ever, totalling more than £1052.
Then in early January, DCC’s participation in a service to mark Epiphany at Carey Baptist Church in Marlowes resulted in an offering of £450 by members of the congregation towards UNICEF’s work for refugee children.
Appropriately, one of the songs members of the community choir are learning at the moment is “We want to sing”, written by Roger Emerson, which links the joy of singing with making the world a better place and showing needy people they are loved.
Our next public performances will be on Wednesday March 9, celebrating 100 years of the WI at Potten End village hall (8pm), and on Tuesday March 15, when we’ll be taking part with local children in Dacorum in Song at St John’s Church (6pm). Then on Saturday April 23, we’ll be marking St George’s Day at Hemel Hempstead Methodist Church in Northridge Way (4pm).
The choir meets on Tuesday mornings from 9.45 to 11.15 at the Church of the Resurrection, behind the shops at Henry Wells Square, Grovehill, Hemel Hempstead. After Easter, rehearsals will begin five minutes earlier, and end 15 minutes later.
More details at www.dacorumcommunitychoir.org.
Press Release dated 1st February 2016
It’s turning into a year of celebrations for DCC
Legends, patriotism and centenary celebrations seem to be emerging as the themes of Dacorum Community Choir’s programme for 2016.
From King Arthur and St. George to “jam and Jerusalem”, they’re all in the mix – and more besides.
In early March (Wednesday the 9th to be precise) we’ll be helping members of Potten End Women’s Institute celebrate the WI’s centenary year with a performance at the Village Hall from 8 to 9pm.
Less than a week later, DCC will be joining young singers and musicians at the Dacorum in Song concert at St. John’s Church, Boxmoor. That’s on Tuesday March 15th, starting at 6pm.
Then on Saturday April 23rd, the choir will be performing in its first concert marking St. George’s Day, which will be held at the new Hemel Hempstead Methodist Church in Northridge Way, Hemel Hempstead.
And looking ahead to September 10th, we’ll be celebrating a hundred years of music to mark the centenary year of Lions Clubs International – venue to be announced.
Shaping an appropriate programme is a challenging task for our Musical Director, Rufus Frowde, but it’s already under way with, among other songs, the legend of King Arthur as imagined in Rick Wakeman’s 1970s prog rock musical of that name.
A more traditional rollicking number pays tribute to John Barleycorn and the nation’s debt to beer and barley – on which Hertfordshire’s economy was largely based in more recent centuries.
People often ask choir members “What do you sing?” As this emerging programme suggests, the answer can be more or less anything. Last year, we went through a phase of religious music although we’re not a church choir. But traditional songs, both British and international, along with popular classics and classic pop are our more usual fare.
We long ago topped our initial target of a hundred members and are not actively recruiting, but new faces turn up practically every week at our friendly informal practice sessions and we do our best to make each and every one feel welcome.
Rehearsals take place on Tuesday mornings during school term time from 9.45 to 11.15, normally at the Church of the Resurrection behind Grovehill shops at Henry Wells Square, Hemel Hempstead HP2 6BJ. Please note: half-term will be on February 16th, and the last rehearsal of this term will be Tuesday March 22nd.
Further information about the choir, including occasional changes of venue, can be found at www.dacorumcommunitychoir.org , or on Streetlife.
Press release dated 17th December 2015
Three kings come riding in
Just when you thought Christmas was over, Dacorum Community Choir are marking Epiphany, the festival of the Three Kings, in their first performance of 2016.
They’ll be adding their voices to those of the congregation at Carey Baptist Church in Marlowes on the evening of Sunday January 10th.
Choir members will be rehearsing at Carey Baptist church on the previous Tuesday morning, but the first regular Tuesday rehearsal of the new term will be on January 12th at the Church of the Resurrection, behind Grovehill shops.
The choir’s Epiphany programme includes, appropriately, Kings Came Riding, a modern carol written by Kevin Stannard , a senior academic at Wolverhampton University.
Other pieces include two which were performed at the choir’s Christmas concert at St John’s Church, Boxmoor, on December 8th: What Child Is This?, sung to an arrangement of the tune of Greensleeves, and Poor Li’l Jesus, a Louisiana spiritual. There will also be traditional seasonal favourites during the service.
It’s been a hectic festive season for DCC.
The Boxmoor concert raised more than £700 for Charlie’s Gift, a local charity which helps children affected by adversity.
Choir members helped launch the festivities at Grovehill and Chaulden shopping centres and at Frithsden vineyard. They also entertained members of the U3A at Boxmoor Playhouse and residents of Sheldon Lodge in Berkhamsted, as well as supporting Age UK by singing at Tesco, Jarmans Park.
DCC meets on Tuesday mornings during school term time at Grovehill church from 9.45 to 11.15. There’s more about the choir on www.dacorumcommunitychoir.org and on Streetlife.
Press Release Dated 22nd October 2015
Community Choir sing at Palace of Westminster
Members of Dacorum Community Choir have taken part in a Eucharist service in the Chapel of St Mary Undercroft beneath the Houses of Parliament – a first for the choir and the historic chapel. We were the first external choir for 400 years to sing there.
The occasion was arranged by Hemel Hempstead MP Mike Penning and Dacorum borough councillor Rosie Sutton, a former choir chairman. Being within a royal palace, the chapel is in the charge of the Lord Great Chamberlain, and painstaking negotiations were necessary in order to meet protocol.
The chapel is a colourful example of High Victorian decoration applied to one of the few medieval ecclesiastical remnants to survive the great fire of 1834 which all but destroyed the Old Palace of Westminster, necessitating the building of parliament as we know it today.
Holy Communion is celebrated there twice every Wednesday during parliamentary sessions and is open to members of parliament, peers and parliamentary staff. During the service, the Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt joined the small congregation, which included Mike Penning, who is minister for policing.
The Rev Rose Hudson-Wilkin, who officiated, combines the roles of Speaker’s Chaplain, priest vicar at Westminster Abbey and vicar of the inner London parish of Dalston and Haggerston. Born and raised in Montego Bay, Jamaica, she has also been a chaplain to the Queen and was the subject of Radio 4’s Desert Island Discs not long ago.
Under their musical director Rufus Frowde, and accompanied from the keyboard by Joseph Beech, DCC sang 21st century settings of the Kyrie, Sanctus and Agnus Dei by Jonathan Eyre, as well as the canon Non Nobis Domine, sometimes attributed to the Renaissance composer William Byrd, and led the congregation in an arrangement by Ralph Vaughan Williams of “I heard the voice of Jesus say” with words by Horatius Bonar from the 19th century.
The choir were thanked by the Rev Rose, who said she hoped it wouldn’t be our last performance at Westminster, and by Mr Penning, who acknowledged that he only sang Swing Low Sweet Chariot, and probably wouldn’t be doing that again soon, following England’s rugby world cup defeat by Australia.
At the time of writing, the choir are preparing for the first of their Christmas concerts, This Joyful Night, which takes place at St John’s Church on Tuesday December 8th. Led by Rufus Frowde, with accompanist Judi Kelly, it will feature a children’s choir from Aycliffe Drive primary school and soloists. Tickets at £10 and £5 (under-18s) are available from choir members, or 07890 288859 and on the door. There will be a collection in aid of Charlie’s Gift, the Hertfordshire-based charity which helps children whose lives are affected by adversity.
And before that happens, members will give a small concert for Hemel Hempstead Rotary’s group for the visually impaired at the Blind Centre in Boxmoor. DCC is always interested to hear from community groups who would welcome such an event.
We are friendly and informal, and we sing everything from pop classics to folk. And, as of last month, bits of the Latin Mass !
We rehearse on Tuesday mornings during school term from 9.45 to 11.15, usually at the Church of the Resurrection, behind the shops at Henry Wells Square in Grovehill, Hemel Hempstead.
For further details, including occasional changes of venue, see our website www.dacorumcommunitychoir.org , Streetlife.
Press Release Dated September 2015
Community Choir looks ahead to autumn
The new term starts for Dacorum Community Choir on Tuesday September 8th. With about a hundred men and women already signed up, DCC is not actively recruiting new members, but as always they are warmly welcomed by this friendly and informal group.
Weekly sessions take place on Tuesday mornings during school term from 9.45 to 11.15, usually at the Church of the Resurrection, behind the shops at Henry Wells Square in Grovehill, Hemel Hempstead.
As ever, the rule is “just turn up and give us a try”. There is no need to have sung before, even alone in the bath.
Rehearsals are taken by our musical director Rufus Frowde or accompanist Judi Kelly, who use a “sing it after me” technique.
You don’t need to know whether you’re a soprano or a bass. There are no auditions and there’s no need even to be able to read music, though inexpensive lessons are available for those who want to do so. If you decide to join, the membership subscription is £30 per term, but it’s the choir’s policy that difficulty in paying is no obstacle to membership.
With “community” as our middle name, we believe in sharing the pleasure we get from singing, which has been shown to benefit individuals and the community at large. Members of the choir perform for local groups, such as old people’s homes and social clubs, and we welcome invitations to do so.
We also give full-scale concerts from time to time. Plans are in hand for two events at St John’s church, Boxmoor, and Carey Baptist church in Marlowes, Hemel Hempstead, around Christmas. Social activities planned for the autumn include a barn dance and quiz. Watch this space for details!
For more information, including details of occasional changes of venue, can be found at www.dacorumcommunitychoir.org , or on Streetlife.
Press Release dated August 2015
“It’s a boy” joy for Community Choir
Dacorum Community Choir’s successful summer term ended in joyful celebration of the birth of a son to musical director Rufus Frowde and his wife Polly, their first child.
The happy event was marked by the presentation of a cot quilt hand-crafted by DCC secretary Catherina Petit-van Hoey. “I made it with love,” she said, adding that the appliqued animals were not just for the little one’s amusement, but also marked the fact that Polly is a vet!
Choir members had had two other surprises in store for Rufus at the final rehearsal of term. He was greeted by applause as he walked into the Church of the Resurrection in Grove Hill. Then, when he thought he was beginning routine warm-up exercises, the choir launched instead into an unexpected rendering of “Where will the baby’s dimple be?” led by accompanist Judi Kelly.
The previous week began with the choir taking part in Dacorum in Song along with local schoolchildren at St John’s church, Boxmoor, led by Camille Maalawy, head of Dacorum Music School. The choir’s busy week ended with a performance at Leverstock Green’s village fete. You could have heard a pin drop in the village hall when choir member Audrey Jeffers sang Gershwin’s Summer Time, a very appropriate choice for the occasion.
At Dacorum Community Choir we sing for fun and we aim to share our enjoyment in the wider community, as our middle name suggests.
Our membership is also drawn from the community at large. The choir is open to all, and members come from many parts of Dacorum. No auditions or previous musical experience are necessary. Just turn up if you want to give us a try; you’ll find that it’s not for nothing we’re known as “the friendly choir”.
The choir meets on Tuesday mornings from 9.45 to 11.15, usually at the Church of the Resurrection, behind the shops at Henry Wells Square in Grovehill, Hemel Hempstead. Our autumn term begins on September 8th.
Further details, including information about occasional changes of venue, can be found at www.dacorumcommunitychoir.org , or on Streetlife.
Press Release Dated 27th May 2015
Community and Friendship
Residents at Tring’s Emma Rothschild Court enjoyed a Friendship Tea organised by Age UK Dacorum with entertainment provided by Dacorum Community Choir.
They were joined by guests from elsewhere in the town and from neighbouring villages.
Visitors and residents alike joined enthusiastically in the singing, which included community song-sheet favourites such as The Bonnie Banks of Loch Lomond and Bobby Shafto. Musical director Rufus Frowde also demonstrated how easy it is to learn new songs, leading the choir and audience in popular rounds from around the world.
It was the latest event in a busy Spring and early Summer schedule for DCC which has included entertaining King’s Langley Evergreens at the community centre in The Nap and the Heather Club at Carey Baptist Church in Hemel Hempstead.
Not for nothing is “community” DCC’s middle name, and not for nothing are we also known as “the friendly choir”.
The choir recently held its first Come and Sing event at Grovehill community centre and a Concert for Spring at St Mary’s Church Apsley in aid of the church’s music fund.
Dacorum Community Choir now has nearly a hundred members. We meet on Tuesday mornings in school term between 9.45 and 11.15am, usually at the Church of the Resurrection behind the shops at Henry Wells Square in Grovehill. Further details about us, including occasional changes of venue, can be found at www.dacorumcommunitychoir.org , or on our Streetlife page.
Press Release Dated 19th May 2015
Smiles all round at singing event
Smiling faces said it all during and after Dacorum Community Choir’s first Come and Sing event, aimed at newcomers to singing.
The three dozen new singers who joined an equal number of choir members at Grovehill Community Centre were invited to give feedback afterwards. All but one of those who filled in a form ticked the smiley faces boxes, showing they’d enjoyed the experience and would sing again.
“We were delighted with the response,” said DCC chairman Sally Davies. The idea was to share the joy of singing with a friendly and informal choir, rather than to recruit new members, but several of the newcomers were to be seen at the choir’s next rehearsal.
“We wanted to make it as easy as possible for people to just come along and they did,” added Sally, explaining that a grant from Dacorum Borough Council’s Health and Wellbeing fund had enabled the event to be held free of charge.
Musical director Rufus Frowde began the singing with an Aboriginal welcome, using his “sing it after me” technique. In a little over two hours, participants had learnt seven songs in languages ranging from Congolese to Polish, Hebrew and even English, with backing from Richard Sisson on piano. Rhythmic clapping, foot-stamping and comic movement added to the fun.
Dacorum Community Choir now has nearly a hundred members. The choir meets on Tuesday mornings in school term between 9.45 and 11.15am, usually at the Church of the Resurrection behind the shops at Henry Wells Square in Grovehill. The next rehearsal is on June 2nd.
Further details, including information about occasional changes of venue, can be found at www.dacorumcommunitychoir.org , or on Streetlife.
Press Release dated 21st March 2015
Dacorum Community Choir
We’ve had a busy time this Spring term learning new songs and preparing for concerts and events in April and May.
Our first outing is on the afternoon of Thursday, April 2nd, between 2.30 and 3.30 pm, when we’ll be singing for and with the members of the Evergreen Club who meet in the Community Centre in Kings Langley.
After Easter we will once again be with the Heather Club, a social club for those with the early signs of memory loss, who meet in Carey Baptist Church. This will be on Wednesday 16th April, between 1.30 and 2.30 and we look forward to meeting the members who joined in with us with such enthusiasm on our last visit.
Our major performance in May will in an event organised by St. Mary’s Church, Apsley, on the afternoon of the 9th, in aid of their church music fund. The concert will start at 5.00 pm and the church is providing home-made teas after the singing. We are delighted to welcome soloist Camille Malaawy and organist Richard Sisson to join us.
Tickets are £10 and can be obtained from any member of the choir, by contacting Jean at the church, or on 01442 215245.
Then on Thursday, 21st May, between 2.00 and 3.00 pm, we will be singing at an Age Concern Friendship Tea at Emma Rothschild House in Tring.
However, the main event organised by us will be our open ‘Come and Sing’ afternoon on Saturday May 16th, which is being run as part of Volunteer Arts Week 2015. It will be at Grovehill Community Centre off Henry Wells Square, HP2 6BJ, with singing between 2.00 and 4.30 pm.
Our musical director, Rufus Frowde, firmly believes singing is for everyone to enjoy.
Whether you’ve sung in a choir before or never sung before – all are welcome. You may have always wanted to sing, but believed it was not for you. Perhaps you were put off at an early age by being told you couldn’t sing. Just come along and give it a try – you’ll be pleasantly surprised and we can promise that you’ll have fun.
To quote one of our members; “The whole community spirit of all working together, no matter what our ability, and ending up with acceptable and sometimes excellent results is so beautiful.”
There will be plenty of us there to offer support and encouragement – you certainly won’t be singing on your own.
What is more, there is no charge. Registration is from 1.30pm and there will be tea and cakes and a chance to chat with members from 4.30. Please phone Sally on 07890 288859 if you want any further information.
The choir now numbers about 100 and we welcome new members at any time. We meet in term time on Tuesday mornings between 9.45 and 11.15.
Our regular base has been Astley Cooper School in St. Agnell’s Lane, Grovehill. But at present we are often rehearsing at the Church of the Resurrection, behind the shops at Henry Wells Square in Grovehill. Please check our website for the latest information.
You can get further details about us on www.dacorumcommunitychoir.org , or on our page on Streetlife.
Press release dated 17th February 2015
Singing is good for you (official)* ………….
and it’s great fun too.
We want to spread the word that singing is for everyone. So, as part of Voluntary Arts Week, 2015, we are holding a ‘Come and Sing’ event on Saturday, 16th May, at the Grovehill Community Centre, HP2 6BJ from, 2 -4.30.
Whether you’ve sung in a choir in the past or whether you’ve never sung before – all are welcome. You may have always harboured a desire to sing, but believe it is not for you. Maybe you were put off at an early age by being told you couldn’t sing. Just come along and give it a try – you’ll be pleasantly surprised and we can promise that you’ll have fun.
There will be plenty of our members there to offer support and encouragement – you certainly won’t be singing on your own.
Rufus Frowde, our musical director, tells the story of a lady who came up to him at the end of one of the early rehearsals after the choir was founded in 2009 and said that she was eighty years old and had never believed that she could sing, but the choir had helped her to find her voice. So, it’s never too late to try something new.
If you have any questions about the event, please call or text 07890 288859.
Here are what some of our members say about the choir.
‘The whole experience is fun. It’s an opportunity to meet with other people from a wide and diverse population particularly now that I am retired. I always look forward to coming, even on the days when physically it is a struggle.’
‘The social side of the choir is important too – we get to know each other and make new friends.’
‘Rufus and Judi (our accompanist) are both excellent in the way they engage us in singing, it is never a chore and we are treated well and never talked down to or undermined.’
‘Singing is a great mood lifter. I always come away with a big smile on my face.’
‘The choir is famous for its friendly and inclusive approach – I love it!’
‘For me the choir has been very important in coping with the loss of my daughter. Singing lifts the spirit and prevents me falling into depression.’
Further details about us can be found on our webpage www.dacorumcommunitychoir.org or our page n Streetlife.
*All together now: singing is good for your body and soul ….scientists show that choir practice is healthier than yoga. Daily Telegraph 10.7.2013
Press Release dated 19th January 2015
Dacorum Community Choir Christmas Performances
December was a very busy time for our members. Apart from entertaining our visiting choir from Neu Isenburg, Hemel’s twin town in Germany, to a Barn dance and joining with them in concert in St. John’s, Boxmoor over the weekend of 5th/6th and 7th December, we also participated in festive celebrations in various venues around Dacorum.
On Saturday, 29th November, we managed to be in two places at once! Some of our members sang at the Frithsden Vineyard Christmas Fayre, whilst a separate group sang for the Grovehill Christmas lights switch on. The next day, around 25 of us, led by Judi Kelly, our accompanist, sang in Queen’s Square, Adeyfield to a very enthusiastic crowd, including the Mayor and Mike Panning, our MP. The audience joined with us in some of the well-known Christmas songs.
Our Christmas term ended on 16th December, but we had two further performances. On Thursday, 18th, we sang at Probus Christmas event at Boxmoor playhouse. For the first half of the event, we performed from our seasonal repertoire, including the late John Gardner’s jubilant arrangement of ‘The Holly and the Ivy’ which was loudly applauded.
After scrumptious mince pies and sausage rolls, provided by a Probus member, we joined with the members in singing some more familiar numbers. Our musical director, Rufus Frowde, tuned in to his bass notes in leading us in ‘Good King Wenceslas’ and we split into 12 mini choirs for ‘The Twelve Day of Christmas’, which was quite challenging but good fun.
Two days later, we joined the congregation of the Church of the Resurrection in Grovehill in their Christmas Crib concert. The church was beautifully decorated and several of the children took part in playlets illustrating the Christmas story. A fitting start to the holiday.
January 6th, saw the choir reassemble for the spring term.
We are in the process of developing a programme for 2015 and have some dates already in place, including a performance at the Evergreen Club in King’s Langley on April 2nd. We have a Spring Concert planned for May 9th, at St. Mary’s Apsley and will be hosting a ‘Come and Sing’ workshop as part of Volunteer Arts Week on Saturday, May 16th. More details of all these events will be given nearer the time.
We have a very enthusiastic membership and like to think that we deserve our reputation as the ‘friendly choir’. New members are welcome at any time of the year. Please visit our website www.dacorumcommunitychoir.org.
If you might be interested in the choir singing for your organisation please contact us. We would particularly like to expand our performances into residential homes and other community groups. We have sung in the past for ‘Singing for the Brain’ and the ‘Heather Club’, amongst others and our members really enjoy these events.
Press Release dated 16th December 2014
Dacorum Community Choir Advent Concert
“St. John’s Church in Boxmoor was packed, with standing room only, on the 6th December for our concert ‘The Song Goes On – Music for Advent.’ The event was in support of DENS, the local homelessness charity and as a result of a leaving collection and a contribution from ticket sales, £1,000 was raised for this worthwhile cause
Melodia Boys and Girls, our sister choir from Neu Eisenburg and the talented young musicians from the Dacorum Youth Orchestra joined us in what proved to the highlight of a wonderful weekend.
Twenty-three singers from Germany, plus a representative from their town-twinning association, arrived in Hemel on the afternoon of Friday the 5th, after a flying visit to the sights of London in the morning.
That evening, over 120 of us from the choir and our visitors joined together in a Barn Dance at Hemel Hempstead School. Everyone participated with enthusiasm and the hall rang with laughter as occasionally some of the more complicated moves caused a bit of chaos. But we all agreed it was great fun and the band, Cloudburst, said they rarely enjoyed so much audience participation.
And then on a very cold Saturday with freezing temperatures all day, Dacorum and Melodia came together again. There were so many amazing performances from the choirs and the orchestra, but special mention must be made of the Neu Isenburg choir singing Happy Christmas (War is over) with soloist Barbara Kornek leading the singers.
To mark the 100th anniversary of the beginning of world War I, a reading was given of memories from soldiers from both sides who took part in the Christmas Truce. During the reading the choirs joined in the singing of Stille Nacht/Silent Night, signifying the historic cooperation of two warring sides in a memorable and unique occasion.
Rufus Frowde, who opened the evening with an organ solo, Toccata on Veni Emmanuel by Andrew Carter, compered the event and conducted the Dacorum choir and the youth orchestra. Melodia Boys and Girls were conducted by Oliver Seiler.
Councillor Allan Lawson, Dacorum’s mayor, gave a short speech in which he said that the Community Choir had gone from strength to strength since their founding in 2009. “Indeed this year” he added, ‘they have gone from the Albert Hall (in March) to Queen’s Square, Adeyfield in December.”
Anthony Culley, the chair of the trustees of DENS, thanked the choir for choosing them as their charity for the concert. He went on to say that DENS helps and supports homeless single people and others in crisis in Dacorum through the Night Shelter, Day Centre, Foodbank and supported housing.
DENS is run by 12 trustees, 23 staff and over 150 volunteers. He said; ‘Since January we have provided food parcels to over 3,500 people and supported and helped a further 350 people. Sadly the demand is ever increasing.”
There are so many people to thank for making the weekend memorable and it is impossible to list them all but the following deserve special mention; the hosts who looked after our visitors in their own homes (in fact, the German party were in danger of missing their bus back to Heathrow on Sunday morning because of the repeated rounds of hugs and kisses which were exchanged); those who contributed to the weekend by making mince pies for the after concert refreshments; the four readers at the concert, Karen Peart, Roger Harvey, David Eastham and Rachel Copley from Melodia Boys and Girls; the strong men who helped before and after the concert with the erecting and dismantling of the staging and the moving of the choir pews and so many more who helped in so many ways, not least by singing their hearts out.
As always our thanks go to Rufus, our Musical Director who challenges and inspires us in equal measure and Judi Kelly, our amazing accompanist who tries, vainly at times, to keep us on the straight and narrow.
We meet again after Christmas on 6th January. Further details of our choir with information about rehearsals and membership can be found on our webpage www.dacorumcommunitychoir.org or our page on Streetlife.”
Press release dated 16th October 2014
Dacorum Community Choir
Over the last weekend of the summer choir members raised almost £500 for charity in two events. On Friday 19th September, at the annual quiz hosted by Di and Bill Stevens, the raffle made £105 for our nominated charity hope for children. It was a most enjoyable evening. Thanks to Di and Bill, all those who provided the delicious food, those who donated raffle prizes and last but not least those who came and put their knowledge, or ignorance, to the test in supporting the event.
On an autumnal morning on Saturday, 20th September thirty-six singers, plus musical director, Rufus Frowde and accompanist, Judi Kelly, braved the horrors of long delays on the M1 and the atmospheric mist shrouded rural lanes of deepest Hertfordshire (the SatNav came in very handy) to sing in the Festival of Village Choirs held at the Princess Helena College in Preston, near Hitchin.
The concert was organised to raise funds for the Macmillan Cancer Centre at the Lister Hospital in Stevenage and our singers contributed £380 toward a total of £4,800 collected for the cause. Eight choirs sang, including a polished performance from the year 7 choir from the college, comprised of girls who had joined the school this term and therefore had had only two weeks to rehearse.
All the singers had the great pleasure of singing, and listening to a variety of songs by the other choirs, in a wonderfully acoustic hall. We sang ‘Deed I Do’, the Hebrew song ‘Al Shlosha’, and the Appalachian folk hymn ‘Wayfaring’ Stranger’ from our repertoire which includes music from all around the world.
Rufus compered the event and at the end he told a story which illustrates the unique experience offered by community choirs. He recounted that at the end of one of the early rehearsals after the choir was formed in 2009, a lady came up to him and said that she was eighty years old and had never believed that she could sing, but the choir had helped her to find her voice. So it’s never too late to try something new and singing has been proved to be good for both physical and mental health. It’s also a great way to meet new friends.
After the concert Judi said: “Working with the choir is the musical highlight of my week. The energy, enthusiasm and sheer enjoyment of the singers makes it a truly joyful experience”.
The choir reached the final six in the most innovative creative organisation category at the Heart of Flame awards held at the Weston Auditorium in Hatfield. The winners were Rhythms of the World – congratulations to them.
But the Hertfordshire Schools Music Gala held at the Albert Hall, in which we took part, won the Hertfordshire Lifestyle and Legacy Partnership Award. Congratulations to Herts Music Service and in particular to our very own Rufus Frowde, who was the Artistic Director for the event. Very well deserved!
We have a full programme of events planned over the Christmas period, firstly singing a the Grovehill Christmas Lights switch on in Henry Wells Square, Hemel, from 6pm on 30th November.
Over the weekend of December 5th, we welcome members of the Melodia Choir from Neu Isenburg, Hemel’s twin town, on a return visit. Some of the choir went to Germany last year and had most enjoyable time. We hope we can reciprocate when they visit us. We will be hosting a barn dance to welcome them on the Friday evening and on Saturday, 6th they will be joining us and the Dacorum Youth Orchestra in our concert ’The Song Goes On’ at St. John’s Church, Boxmoor. The concert starts at 7pm and tickets, priced at £10 and £5 (under 18s) are available from choir members or by phoning the box office on 07597 195814.
On the 18th December from 9.30am to 11.30am we will be singing in the Probus Christmas Event at the Boxmoor Playhouse.
November saw the 5th anniversary of our foundation, in a collaboration between the Hertfordshire Music Service, Astley Cooper School and Rufus Frowde. The choir started with about 30 members and, at the last count we numbered over 100. We meet on Tuesday mornings from 9.45am to 11.15am in term time, normally at the Astley Cooper School, HP2 7HL*. New members are always welcome at any time of the year – there are no auditions. You can get further details from our website www.dacorumcommunitychoir.org, or you can just come along to a rehearsal, you’ll find us a friendly bunch.
* occasionally we meet elsewhere – details are posted on the website
Press release dated 10th October 2014
Dacorum Community Choir
Rosie Sutton the chair of the Dacorum Community Choir, along with other members, attended the Heart of Flame award ceremony in the Weston Auditorium at the University of Hertfordshire, Hatfield on the evening of Saturday October 4th. The choir had been one of 25 nominees in the most creative business/organisation of the year category. They are proud to have reached the final six. However, the Hertfordshire Schools Gala 2014, organised by the Herts Music Service, won a Hertfordshire Lifestyle and Legacy Partnership Award. The choir are especially proud of this achievement, not only because they took part, but because their musical director, Rufus Frowde was the artistic director of the Gala. They feel it was a well deserved recognition of the work that Rufus, and others in the Music Service, put in to making the gala an unforgettable experience for performers and audience alike.
In December the choir welcomes the Melodia Choir from Neu Isenburg, In Germany, Hemel’s twin town and have a programme planned for the weekend which includes a barn dance to welcome the visitors and a concert at St. John’s Church, Boxmoor, on Saturday 6th December. As well as the two choirs, the Dacorum Youth Orchestra will be taking part. Further details will be available on the website.
Dacorum Community Choir, a mixed voice choir, meets on Tuesdays in term time between 9.45am and 11.15am at the Astley Cooper School. They number about a hundred and new members can join at any time of the year. All are welcome – there is no audition and fees are very reasonable. You will find more details on www.dacorumcommunitychoir.org, or you can just come to a rehearsal and give them a try.
Press release dated 4th September 2014
Cheers and applause greeted the Dacorum Community Choir when we joined in a singalong with members of the Heather Club at Carey Baptist Church on the afternoon of September 1st.
The Heather Club is a weekly social club for the elderly, the frail and those with the beginnings of memory loss. It has been in existence since 1982 and gets its name from the day it was formed, 30th November, also known as St Andrew’s Day.
Around forty-five choir members sang and there were about twenty from the Heather Club. The afternoon began with us singing from our repertoire of world music. Many of the Heather Club joined in with songs that they knew and then Rufus Frowde, our musical director, led the assembly in singing some old familiar tunes, ending with a rousing chorus of ‘What shall we do with the drunken sailor?”, complete with actions.
Judi Kelly accompanied on an amazing Art Deco piano. She later remarked that she’d never seen anything quite like it before!
The Heather Club members were a most enthusiastic audience and joined in with glee when their turn came to sing.
One of the gentlemen commented: “It’s been wonderful – the best yet.”. and another said: “Brilliant. Singing with the choir brought back so many memories of my youth. I would recommend singing to anyone with memory problems.”
At the end of the afternoon we were asked if we would come back soon.
Dacorum Community Choir meets on Tuesdays in term time between 9.45am and 11.15am at the Astley Cooper School. We number about a hundred and new members can join at any time of the year. All are welcome – there is no audition and our fees are very reasonable. You will find more details on our website www.dacorumcommunitychoir.org, by telephoning membership secretary Dianne on 01442 874988, or you can just come along to one of our rehearsals and give us a try.
Stan Gillon, one of our tenors, would like to send a personal message to all you shy men out there. “We need just a few more voices to get the best sound.” He thinks that some more men would help tremendously, men who enjoy singing and would like to join the existing twenty or so male voices in a very special and sociable choir.
Our next public performance will be on September 20th at the Festival of Village Choirs being held in in the Princess Helena School in Preston, near Hitchin between 2.30pm and 5.30pm. The event is in aid of the Lister Macmillan Cancer Centre and all the performers will be paying to sing. Tickets are on sale at £10 each and can be obtained by emailing Lisa at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Press Release dated 3rd September 2014
DAYTIME SINGING IN HEMEL
Have your children just started school? Are you retired? Are you free during the day?
Have you sung a lot or do you just sing in the bath, but have always wanted to sing in a group?
We’re a Hemel based community choir with 100 plus members who rehearse in the daytime. We meet on Tuesday mornings in term times at the Astley Cooper School in Hemel Hempstead, HP2 7HL, from 9.45 to 11.15am You can join at any time, there are no auditions, all are welcome. (A few more men would be nice!)
Please check out our website on www.dacorumcommunitychoir.org.uk for full information. There is a page for ‘urgent news’ which is updated weekly in case there are any changes, e.g. to our venue.
We normally start singing promptly at 9.45 am, but there will be someone at the school from 9.30am to welcome you if you decide to come along and suss us out – you’ll find we’re a friendly bunch.
Press Release dated 18th August 2014
DACORUM COMMUNITY CHOIR
A new banner, designed by member Clara Wilmott-Basset, was unfurled at the group’s last meeting of the summer term, and greeted with enthusiasm by choir members. The banner will be on show at rehearsals and used, wherever possible, when the choir performs in public.
It was agreed that the past year, the fifth since the choir was formed in 2009, was an outstanding one, both for singers and audiences. There were a number of performances during 2013/2014; but two were particularly memorable.
In September 2013 the choir acted as the chorus in Jonathan Dove’s community opera, ‘Tobias and the Angel’, with its exhilarating finale. Three members, Martin Boutland, George Chant and Doug Forster sang the parts of Raguel’s men in a comic turn which the audience loved. In March this year the choir sang, alongside young musicians, to a large and appreciative audience at the Royal Albert Hall in the Hertfordshire Schools’ Gala.
The singers really put their hearts and souls into both performances.
Member, Janet Robinson, said: “I joined the choir 18 months ago with some trepidation but soon started to look forward to every session and didn’t want to miss any. I am so glad I took that first step and came along. The choir is so friendly and welcoming to newcomers, but most of all it’s great fun!
We’ve had the opportunity to sing with professionals in ‘Tobias and the Angel’. It was a real challenge but such a fantastic learning experience. We were also given a chance to sing at the Royal Albert Hall – an experience I’ll never forget.
Taking part in performances and concerts is exciting and fun but is not compulsory. We have an outstanding leader in Rufus Frowde and an excellent accompanist in Judi Kelly.”
A special vote of thanks is due to Rufus and Judi, and to the committee, under the leadership of Doug Forster, Emma Reed and Stan Gillon, for their sterling work in applying for grants, organising venues and transport and generally keeping the members in order. (Two did manage to get lost at the Albert Hall but were fortunately found just before the coach left.) A special mention should also be made of the tremendous support the choir gets from The Astley Cooper School which, among other things, provides an excellent hall for rehearsals.
Most of the committee retired at the end of the year and a new committee has now been formed with Rosie Sutton as chairperson and Catherina Petit-van Hoey as secretary.
Various events are planned for 2014/2015 with the first public performance on Saturday, September 20th at the Village Choirs Festival in aid of Macmillan Cancer Care. The concert is to be held at The Princess Helena College, Preston, Hitchin. The performance starts at 2.30pm and is expected to last about 2 hours.
In December we welcome a group from our sister choir in Hemel’s twin town of Neu-Isenburg in Germany.
The choir, which now numbers a hundred plus, meets on Tuesday mornings from 9.45am to 11.15am in term time. The first rehearsal of the Autumn term will be on September 2nd. This will be at the Church of the Resurrection, Henry Wells Square, Hemel Hempstead although we normally meet at the Astley Cooper School. There are no auditions – all adults are welcome.
Retiring chairman, Stan Gillon, in a message to all those shy men out there, said: “I heard one of the tenors say that they need just one or two more voices to get the best sound.” He thinks that three more men would help tremendously, men who enjoy singing and would like to join a very special and sociable choir.
New members are always welcome at any time of the year – there is no audition. You can get further details from our website www.dacorumcommunitychoir.org or you can just come along to a rehearsal, you’ll find we’re a friendly bunch.
Press Release dated 17th July 2014
CHILDREN AND ADULTS IN TUNE
Dacorum Community Choir joined local schoolchildren for “Dacorum in Song” at South Hill School in Hemel Hempstead on Tuesday July 15.
For the Community Choir particularly, and no doubt for the schools too, it was the end of a hectic year. Founder/director Rufus Frowde recalled that it began with “Tobias and the Angel”, a biblical folk opera for amateur choir with professional soloists and band. Later in the year members sang at the Hertfordshire Schools Gala concerts at the Royal Albert Hall. It had been a successful year in so many ways, with membership topping 100.
The choir can’t wait to start next term, so much so that its next date is with the Heather Club at Carey Baptist Church on Monday September 1, the day before the first rehearsal of the autumn. The choir meets each Tuesday from 9.45am to 11.15 during school term time at Astley Cooper School in Grovehill, Hemel Hempstead. New members are welcome and no auditions are involved, just turn up.
Among those attending “Dacorum in Song” were the mayors of Dacorum and Berkhamsted, Councillors Allan Lawson and Peter Matthews, who praised all involved, specially mentioning the energy and excitement of the children from South Hill School Choir, Dacorum Junior Singers and Ace of Herts, including two excellent soloists (Florence Kingdon and Elena Veris-Reynolds.)
One comment made, however, was that only a small number of boys took part; come on lads, it takes guts to stand up in front of parents and civic dignitaries and sing your heart out!
Press Release dated 5th July 2014
DACORUM COMMUNITY CHOIR AT FESTIVAL
On the Saturday afternoon of the Wimbledon Ladies’ Final, the World Cup quarter finals and the start of the Tour de France in Yorkshire, it was perhaps not surprising that only a small audience heard Dacorum Community Choir and groups from mid-Herts and Watford perform in a local choral festival that showed the current popularity of singing with choirs large and small, youth and adult.
Though dwarfed by the spacious Edward Guinness Hall at Dame Alice Owen’s School in Potters Bar, the 40 or so listeners were nevertheless equally appreciative. As is often the case at such events they joined enthusiastically in the final song, I’d Like to Teach the World (to Sing in Perfect Harmony), guided by Peter Twitchin, director of the Mid-Herts Youth and Chamber Choirs, who demonstrated pitch energetically by hopping from note to note.
Dacorum’s more restrained but nonetheless inspiring conductor Rufus Frowde, unobtrusively aided by accompanist Judi Kelly, led the Hemel Hempstead-based ensemble through established favourites ranging from a traditional Macedonian folk song (Shto mi e milo), to the Nigerian highlife number O-re-mi and Roger Emerson’s Shoshone Love Song. The choir ended its set with the Appalachian folk hymn Wayfarin’ Stranger. This followed the majestic and moving Al Shlosha, in Hebrew, extolling the importance of Truth, Justice and Peace, which the community choir learnt specially for this performance.
Members combined with the other choirs to end the concert as a whole with the spiritual All My Trials and the Noah’s Ark-based marching song Vive L’Amour.
Press Release dated 24th May 2014
DACORUM COMMUNITY CHOIR SING AT COUNTY SHOW
Dacorum Community Choir Singing Whilst it Rains!
The first day of the annual Hertfordshire County Show was marred by very poor weather with some extremely heavy falls of rain.
Fortunately the Hertfordshire County marquee became alive during the afternoon with some sparkling entertainment from the Dacorum Community Choir.
This was the fourth year running that the Choir had been asked to be put on a short concert for the visitors to the County Show. Before the concert began the rain fell in torrents and made the crowd run for shelter. The County marquee was the ideal place.
The atmosphere for the concert was one of fun and the Choir excelled. The cramped conditions meant that Judi Kelly, the accompanist, lost visual contact with the Musical Director, Rufus Frowde, from time to time. But all concerned gave of their best to pull off an enjoyable performance.
Songs from many countries were well received. These songs developed into rounds and the sound got better and better. A new song to the Choir, ‘Hear the Wind’, was sung beautifully and the audience showed its appreciation. The popular ‘Goodnight Sweetheart’ brought the 40 minute concert to a close.
The Choir had enjoyed itself. Lots of rehearsal time had been spent for this event and, as always, practice made it near perfect.
As one member of the Choir said, “That was great. Hope we can come again next year.”
Wishes do come true!
Press Release dated 24th April 2014
Dacorum Choir Sings in the Community
The sounds of singing and laughter echoed from the walls of St. George’s Church Hall in Chaulden last Tuesday. The friends of ‘Singing for the Brain’ joined with a small group of Dacorum Community Choir members for an afternoon of music. The host was Kerry Brabant. Kerry organised those who attended, along with their aides, to an hour of non-stop music with actions which everyone really enjoyed.
Ynis Richardson, a member of Dacorum Community Choir, had introduced the idea of the get-together. Rufus Frowde, the Musical Director of the Choir, agreed the idea, Kerry gave her support and led the afternoon session.
The programme was well thought out in order to combine the different groups in such a way that everyone could be satisfied. It was a big ask but Kerry had it planned, Rufus accepted and all put their heart and soul into the event. The ‘Welcome’ song and the ‘armchair warm-up’, which included smiling, led up to the first song the opening line of which was ‘A you’re adorable’.
The Choir sang with the friends two popular songs ‘When the Saints Go Marching In’ and ‘Swing Low Sweet Chariot’. The difference being that the group of singers was divided into two and both songs were sung at the same time! The results were so pleasing.
‘Delilah’, sung with great gusto, brought the afternoon to an end. The enjoyment for everyone was obvious and it was agreed that this sort of session should be repeated.
Jack Baynton-Glen, a regular attender, had found the session exciting and well presented. He shared his appreciation for Kerry and Rufus and felt that all who had been present had had a wonderful time.
Two days later the venue had changed.
The Centre in the Park is a place where the older people of Dacorum can go to enjoy company, have lunch, play games or just chat every day of the week.
Last Thursday was different. Twenty singers representing the Dacorum Community Choir joined the regular members for a shared concert of singing. Sue Reynolds, hosted the occasion, and welcomed Rufus Frowde, the Musical Director of the Choir. Rufus introduced the varied programme of songs to be sung.
It was a lovely afternoon and Pat Haffenden a popular member, explained that it had come as a real surprise to her and gave all of the members a treat. “Rufus was extremely nice, he carefully encouraged us to join in and patiently taught us the words of some of the songs. This enabled us to sing along with the Choir which was special.”
At the end Sue Reynolds thanked the Choir and presented Rufus with a donation for the Choir’s funds.
Before we left Rufus announced that for the fourth year running the Dacorum Community Choir had accepted an invitation to sing at .the Hertfordshire County Show. This will be on Saturday 24th May.
New members of the Choir are always welcome. Please check our website at www.dacorumcommunitychoir.org
Press Release dated 20th March 2014
Dacorum Community Choir join children for Gala Concerts
Press Release dated 19th December 2013