Vox Holloway (Latin — “the voice of Holloway”) is a community choir which is open to all: there are no auditions and members are not required to have previous experience of choral singing, belong to any particular faith or live in any particular postcode.We sing a wide range of music, working with professional soloists and musicians.
We usually rehearse at St Luke’s Church in Holloway, but during the Covid crisis, we have moved our rehearsals – and concerts – online. More than 100 singers joined Virtual Vox in the summer of 2020 for weekly rehearsals, leading up to a concert which teamed the music of jazz legend Liane Carroll with that of Edward Elgar.
Anyone wishing to join us for our Autumn concert – a new choral arrangement of the classic Beatles album Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band – can do so by dropping us a short email here.
Click on video to see a film about Vox and our members.
Vox Holloway usually performs three times per year. We also have a strong fundraising element and we have raised £80,000 for charity since 2010
We are fortunate to have our own composer and arranger in our director Harvey Brough, whose original work for the choir includes Freedom Song, the inspirational story of the Fisk Jubilee Singers, which was premiered at the Hackney Empire in 2018, and Music on the Mind, an exploration of creativity and mental illness through the words of some of the world’s greatest writers, which was performed at Shoreditch Town Hall in 2019.
He is joined by deputy director Christina Gill, a renowned operatic soloist, who has played a key role in devising and running our online choir, Virtual Vox.
Harvey is one of the UK’s most accomplished and diverse musicians. He is unique in his ability to work with the finest professional musicians and complete beginners (both children and adults), often side by side.
Many of his compositions bring these forces together, with remarkable results. He has been promoting Community music for many years before it became a popular movement.
Harvey sang as a chorister at Coventry Cathedral before studying at the Royal Academy of Music and Clare College, Cambridge. Since then he has worked as a freelance performer, arranger, conductor, producer and composer.
Harvey and the Wallbangers had great success in the 1980s throughout Europe, recording four albums and one called Jazz on EMI, with Simon Rattle.
His compositions have been performed at the Barbican, Royal Opera House, Queen Elizabeth Hall, St John’s Smith Square, Cadogan Hall, Union Chapel, Kings Place, Turner Sims Southampton, Usher Hall Edinburgh and many other major venues.
For the last five years, Harvey has been director and composer in residence of Vox Holloway, putting together a unique and inspiring mix of original compositions and familiar favourites with a twist. Under his leadership Vox has worked with the Kinks’ Ray Davies, Brazilian superstar Monica Vasconcelos, Catalan composer-singer Clara Sanabras and and jazz legend Liane Carroll.
In September 2012 Harvey was made the Turner Sims Professor of Music at the University of Southampton. He started a new university community choir USV and has performed with students and professionals in concerts and workshops at the university.
Since living in the UK, American mezzo soprano Christina Gill has performed the role of Carmen numerous times and was described by Rupert Christiansen in The Telegraph as singing “forcefully as a sassy and ruthless Carmen.”
She has also been praised for her portrayals of Donna Elvira, Suzuki, Charlotte, and Maddalena. In addition to her opera work throughout Europe, Christina enjoys performing in the intimate settings of concerts and oratorios and has been widely praised for her interpretations of new music and American song.
Christina also runs an active vocal studio, teaching from beginner level through to professional singers.
Justin Butcher founded Vox Holloway in the autumn of 2009, as a community choir open to all, whose first concert raised £6,000 for a street children’s project in Durban, South Africa. Since 1992, Justin has been the Organist and Choirmaster of St Luke’s church, west Holloway, where the choir is based.
Justin read Classics Greats at Oxford, trained subsequently at Drama Studio London, and has worked all over the world as director, writer, actor and musician in a vast range of roles and productions in theatre, television, radio and film. His most recent book Walking to Jerusalem was published in 2018.
Meet our singers
Some of the singers in Vox Holloway describe their experience of taking part in the choir.
I’m a regular choral singer but a little weary of the standard big choir repertoire that comes round year after year. Finding Vox Holloway was a breath of fresh air – new and welcoming people, a new and inspiring musical director, and new music that I had never sung before! It’s somewhere I feel both challenged and at home.
Joined in 2010 after an email came to me as a member of Hackney Singers – to sing Requiem in Blue by Harvey Brough. I have participated ever since. The music is always challenging and inspiring, often with fun elements added in, and the musical team are wonderful – you learn to really rely on yourself as a singer and just perform, rather than being a member of a large chorus. The opportunity is also there to sing along with fantastic professionals. I now look forward to what we will be asked to sing in the future – it is so rewarding.
I joined Vox Holloway after trying several other local choirs in which I felt little sense of belonging or excitement. What makes Vox Holloway different is the friendliness and commitment of its singers; the drive and eclectic tastes of Justin and Harvey, the exciting mix of popular, rarely heard, and newly commissioned work; the fundraising efforts that lift us to a higher level of commitment; and the sense of camaraderie that results when a disparate group of people work hard together to create something beautiful, overcoming tiredness, lack of time, and the natural human inclination to let others work harder.
I heard about VH from a friend I used to sing-a-long-a-showtune with. Vox Holloway is very local for me. I’ve loved the range of work we’ve sung, some tricky, some fun and always rewarding. When I joined, I found I could still read music OK-ish (learnt 30 years before), but have learnt much more since. I don’t have perfect pitch and find harmonising a challenge, which gets easier each rehearsal. I’m also on the committee and I do this website, and manage the membership and mailing lists.
I joined the choir after being at the concert Requiem in Blue. The Requiem was so beautiful I wanted to be a part of the choir. As a child I was brought up singing and listening to Latin and Choral Music. Vox Holloway has filled a hole in my life. There is a challenge in all the pieces we sing especially as I do not read music. Other members have been supportive, and also the musical direction given is very helpful.
Vox Holloway is very important for my well being enabling me to escape from the trials and tribulations of every day life and to express myself through art. Making music with a group of like minded people is probably the nicest way of socialising.
My Tuesday evenings are sacrosanct – set aside for Vox Holloway and 2 hours of serious work that always results in something magnificent. I put aside all work and other concerns and become absorbed in the joy of creating something beautiful with other local people who just love singing. There’s nothing pretentious about our choir – its welcoming, friendly and supportive of anyone who wants to come on board, and that makes it very special.