Vox Holloway – Tenth Anniversary Season 2019/20
Who we are and what we do
Vox Holloway is a large and diverse community choir and a registered charity based in Holloway in North London. We are committed to making music accessible to all, while striving for artistic excellence. We are an amateur choir but in all our performances we work with professionals – composers, librettists, singers, actors, instrumentalists. We do not hold auditions, membership fees are reduced for people on low incomes, and we offer some free and low cost concert tickets. We produce audio aids (vocal recordings of what the choir sings in up to eight parts) which mean that singers do not need to be able to read music. We welcome and support members with special needs. Our membership of around 100 includes a smaller Chamber Choir and we also run a youth choir and occasionally work with other adult and youth choirs.
The choir’s first performance was in November 2009 and over the past decade we have put on over 50 performances. About eighty percent of our repertoire has been newly arranged or composed specifically for Vox Holloway. Many of our concerts have been in our home, St Luke’s Holloway, which has an audience capacity of 300 people but in the last few years we have also had sell-out performances in venues such as the Barbican Centre and the Hackney Empire, where the audiences numbered over 1,200.
We are now planning a series of concerts between November 2019 and Christmas 2020 to mark 10 years of extraordinarily creative and unusual Vox Holloway choral concerts
Our Tenth Anniversary programme will celebrate:
- new works we have commissioned and classic choral pieces we have revitalised
- the diversity and inclusivity of Vox Holloway
- our commitment to social justice and raising money for important and charitable causes – over £80,000 to date
- the performances we have given with professional musicians of the highest calibre
- our track record of working with female artists as soloists and instrumentalists
- our determination to give children and young people new and unique musical opportunities
There will be eight concerts over a 15 month period from autumn 2019 to the end of 2020. As well as revisiting eight pieces we have created and performed over the past ten years, the programme will include three new commissions: Arthur, a new arrangement of Sir Ray Davies’ Kink’s album, The Sun Does Shine by Harvey Brough and Justin Butcher based on the book by Anthony Ray Hinton and a new piece by female composer and singer songwriter Clara Sanabras inspired by working of Shakespeare’s mind.
To date, we have made two recordings with professional engineers and producers, which have greatly helped the choir’s development. We know that choir members find the process of recording both challenging and rewarding and that they appreciate having a permanent record of their performances. We therefore plan to make two further recordings as part of our anniversary celebrations: ‘Music On The Mind’ in November 2019 and ‘Fairy Dream’ in June 2020.
Impact of the anniversary programme on the choir and more widely
Through this ambitious programme we hope to make a difference not only to Vox Holloway itself but also to the individuals and groups will be working with. We aim to
- continue to offer our existing audiences high quality concerts and exciting new works
- build new and diverse audiences across a wider geographical area
- engage with and inspire young people and people who would not normally attend choral concerts and build on our new Freedom Song schools’ programme
- provide members of the choir with musical opportunities which excite and challenge them
- develop the choir’s musicality and performance skills
- develop our working relationship with the professional team that supports the choir by giving them opportunities to develop their teaching and mentoring skills
- enable more members of the choir to contribute their many other skills and interests as volunteers in a range of different roles within our charity
- work with our partner charities to help them promote their causes and raise funds
- bring the attention of a wider public to important stories such as those told in Freedom Song and The Sun Does Shine
Funding the project
Most of our members pay a termly membership fee and we sell tickets to all our concerts. Over the years we have been lucky enough to receive funding from a number of different grant funding bodies including Arts Council England and the Backstage Trust as well as generous donations from our friends, regular sponsors and supporters. Our anniversary programme is very ambitious and, although we expect most of the concerts to make a surplus or at least break even, we will need some additional funding. We will therefore be submitting applications to funding bodies and running our own fundraising events throughout the year.
Given the complexity and scale of the programme, we also hope to secure funding to cover the costs of a part/time co-ordinator/admin worker who will complement the work of our committee members and support the delivery of the programme, focusing on production administration, marketing and fundraising.
Music on the Mind
Concert 6.30pm Sunday 24 November
Shoreditch Town Hall – Saturday 23/Sunday 24 November 2019
Music on the Mind, written by Harvey Brough with libretto by Justin Butcher, is a piece dealing with mental health issues. The first half consists of settings of poetry by people considered to be mad in their time. Inspiring and insightful words by John Clare, Sylvia Plath, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Emily Dickinson and others. The second half is based on the influential book by Kay Redfield Jamison, An Unquiet Mind, an account of her struggles with manic depression (bipolar disorder).
Forces: Vox Holloway – Mind and Soul Choir (from Maudsley Hospital) – mezzo soprano solo (Clara Sanabras) baritone solo (tbc) – David le Page Ensemble.
Charity: We will work with a local and a national charity to promote awareness of the concert and will make a collection on the concert night to support their work.
See here for an interview with Emma Thompson minutes after the premier of Music on the Mind. https://vimeo.com/148498564
Concert with new arrangements
St Luke’s – Sunday 15 December
A more informal programme of Christmas music, some new arrangements with audience participation.
Forces: Vox Holloway, children’s choir, piano and brass quartet.
Arthur (the decline and fall of the British Empire) & We are the Village Green Preservation Society
50th anniversary releases
Concert – new commission by Sir Ray Davies and charity fundraiser
Shoreditch Town Hall
Saturday 15 February
(possible recording on 14/15 and concert on Sunday 16 instead of Saturday 15)
As part of the re-release of the Kinks’ 1969 album Arthur (The decline and fall of the British Empire,) Ray Davies has commissioned new arrangements of 6-8 songs. The concert will include a repeat performance of Harvey Brough’s arrangement of the classic 1968 Kinks’ album (We are the Village Green Preservation Society) with specially recorded voiceovers by Sir Ray.
Forces: Vox Holloway, children’s choir, Clara Sanabras and Rick Leigh (soloists), the David le Page Ensemble
Hackney Empire – Sunday 29 March
A repeat of the triumphant performance at the Empire in March 2019, which was funded by the Arts Council and Backstage Trust. The amazing story of the Fisk Jubilee Singers their tours of the States and Britain, raising funds to build Fisk University and performing to Queen Victoria and Gladstone.
Forces: Vox Holloway, Hackney Empire Community Choir, young people’s choir, soloists: Emily Dankworth, Christina Gill, Mike Henry and Wills Morgan, actors: Justin Butcher and Samuel West and with a superb band including Liam Dunachie, Mike Outram and Finn Peters.
Liane Carroll – Edward Elgar
St Luke’s – Sunday 10 May
A repeat performance with the outstanding jazz singer Liane Carrol singing jazz standards and originals with her trio in new choral arrangements. Contrasted with English choral music – including Harvey Brough’s new arrangement of Elgar’s Sea Pictures.
Forces: Vox Holloway, Lianne Carroll and her trio and James Murray, piano.
Fairy Dream and new commission
Concert and recording
Saturday/Sunday 27/28 June (venue to be confirmed)
A repeat of this piece reworking of Purcell’s Masque of the Four Seasons – from The Fairy Queen. Movements for children and adult voices are juxtaposed with Purcell’s vibrant music, using words from A Midsummer Night’s dream (Shakespeare). An innovative and ambitious modern piece which gets children hearing (and singing) the music of Purcell.
A new commission from composer Clara Sanabras exploring the workings of Shakespeare’s mind.
Forces: Vox Holloway, children’s choir, 4 soloists (SATB), Baroque Orchestra (16 musicians)
The Sun Does Shine
World Premiere Concert
St Luke’s – Sunday November 22
A new commission based on the book by Anthony Ray Hinton, an innocent man who spent 30 years on Death Row before being unequivocally cleared. A new composition by Harvey Brough with libretto by Justin Butcher.
Forces: Vox Holloway, Tenor Solo (Wills Morgan whom we worked with on Freedom Song), Chamber Orchestra (12 players) and 3 soloists.
The Bells of Paradise
St Luke’s Holloway – Sunday 13 December (tbc)
A repeat of the ambitious Christmas programme spanning the ages and from around the world.
Forces: Vox Holloway, children’s choir and a small band with outstanding solo instrumentalists.