The title is a line from a moving poem about Parkinson's read at the close of the annual fund-raising Candlelit Concert at Birmingham Cathedral on Tuesday 2nd December.
Local Parkinson's UK organiser Sarah Wakeman put together a captivating bill, hosted by ITV Central's weathergirl Lucy Kite, that started with the renowned Peter Carlton’s Jazzstrata trio whose Saxophonist happens to be a neighbour, followed by the Choir of 8-11 year olds from her own children's school, Coppice in Hollywood
Bringing the first half to an exhilarating Barbershop finish was Anvil Chorus, now in its 38th year, whose line-up includes its two medal winning founder members, everybody's favourite Lead Dennis 'Mona Lisa' Hodgetts and top Tenor Rod Butcher, who as Chorus Director is out front working his magic in managing the performance of the guys facing him while being provocatively entertaining to the audience behind him. Everybody has something to look at when Rod's in charge.
An interval of mince pies, mulled wine and more Jazz was followed by Leicestershire Parkinson's Sing! choir, formed in 2012 and gaining members among patients, carers and friends both as an enjoyable and challenging diversion from their symptoms and for the therapeutic benefits of singing, as exemplified by soloist Tom whose Consultant told him to just keep on singing.
A capella harmonies returned to the fore with Classmates Barbershop quartet who, with stand-in Lead Pete Ryley, boasted over 90 years of singing between them and set a high bar for the all-female Magenta choir to close the show with their distinctive and uniquely arranged seasonal songs under the leadership of Liz Garnett, a former Music Director of Anvil Chorus.
And the obligatory Carols were rendered enthusiastically by the audience, accompanied by Anvil's multi-talented Luke Freeman at the 'Ferrari' piano
Sarah and Lucy told us that they both have family members with Parkinson's and we were reminded that, as every hour someone in the UK is told they have Parkinson's, the purpose of the event was to raise funds for Parkinson's UK to help find a cure and improve life for everyone affected by what the poet quoted in the title calls 'this thing in my head', consequently the donations buckets were shaken to good effect on the way out.
Well done Sarah and her team of Parkinson's UK volunteers, and please invite Anvil Chorus to be part of the 2015 event.Back to top of page
Saturday 22nd November saw Anvil Chorus and special guests perform in the delightfully appointed Sanctuary at Sutton United Reform Church, in one of a series of fund-raisers organised by the Church to support of the work of The Vine Trust in bringing healthcare, housing and education to the Moshi region of Northern Tanzania.
Anvil's Sing-out Coordinator 'Legs' Larry Smith did a fine job assembling the talents of club members to fill the bill and the enthusiastic audience enjoyed an evening of Barbershop favourites from both the Chorus and Classmates quartet.
Our own virtuoso Ivory Tinkler Luke Freeman not only played some of his own compositions but actually produced most of the notes in a recognisably melodious way which, some might say, is odd for a Baritone to do. Then again he was playing not singing (that's a Barbershop joke).
Audience and fellow performers alike were spell-bound by eleven year old Olivia Howdle who joined us to demonstrate the expertise that won Violin and Singing (not simultaneously) classes at the recent Lichfield Music Festival. Olivia was accompanied on the piano by the enigmatic Jobe after only half an hour's rehearsal together.
The real champion of the event though was our own veteran Bass man George Badland who, due to the unavailability of both our Music Director and Assistant, was nominated to stand with his back to the audience and wave his arms about while the chorus sang. Not content with this show of bravado George then contributed a full 25% to the performances of Classmates Quartet. We enjoyed watching you sweat George.Back to top of page
Saturday 8th November 2014 at the 37th Lichfield Festival of Music saw local favourites The Lichfield Singers seven year winning run brought to an end by Anvil Chorus, under the direction of Rod Butcher for the first time in competition.
Adjudicator Vivien Pike awarded a Commended to Anvil for what she described as a most enjoyable performance that provided a good mix of tonal colours and range of dynamics, and moved well in rhythm and style.
Anvil Chorus was then invited to appear in the Festival Winners show on the following Saturday alongside the many, and mostly young, vocal and instrumental performers whose talents impressed an enthusiastic audience which included the Anglican Bishop of Lichfield.Back to top of page
Anvil Chorus was asked if it would help to establish a Barbershop Society at Wolverhampton University, so dispatched an intrepid team to sell the idea to the 1000s of students attending Fresher's events at Wulfrun and Walsall campuses on 7th& 8th October.
Between the Anvil lads and ladies from their sister chorus Second City Sound, 44 male and 120 female students were signed up to attend separate inaugural sessions on Wednesday 15th October.
Unfortunately the men' s first session was poorly attended, so the start time has been changed to accommodate potential attendees having first to finish late lectures. Rod Butcher, whose enthusiasm for our craft is so infectious, ran the men's and then the ladies course which at least achieved double figures.
Both choruses will continue to provide on-campus support for several weeks to see if the initiative results in the establishment of a Society, and if it doesn't, anyone who gets bitten by the Barbershop bug will be invited to attend the club's weekly rehearsals which, conveniently, are held at a reasonably local venue.John Simcox 18 October 2014
Prospective new members for Anvil Chorus joined present members when attending the recent Learn-to-Sing Course held at the Forest Arts Centre on Sunday 28 September 2014. Chorus Director Duncan Whinyates oversaw a successful day.
The course continues at the same venue for a further three consecutive tuesday evenings at 7.30pm and latecomers are very welcome to attend!Back to top of page
Thanks to the cooperation of supermarket giant Waitrose the people of Mere Green and surrounding Sutton Coldfield area have been given the choice of supporting Anvil Chorus while completing their shopping!
Our parent West Midlands Barbershop Harmony Club will vie with two other charities for the green tokens that Waitrose kindly donate to raise funds for worthy causes.
If you're a visitor to our website and happen upon this appeal, please think of Anvil when dropping your token in the box ... we're the one in the middle!!
Many thanks!Back to top of page
A fitting tribute was paid to John Ellis, a long standing member of Anvil Chorus who passed away earlier this year.
The photograph shows members of Anvil at a tree planting ceremony at Nottingham University during the course of the 2014 BABS (British Association of Barbershop Singers) Harmony College. A collection among members from all the choruses attending funded both the tree and a one-off John Ellis Memorial HC Scholarship to be awarded to the successful applicant in 2015.
Amongst his many other roles with Anvil Chorus John was the Reservations and Accommodation Manager for BABS Harmony College for many years and will be remembered with affection by all who attended.
For a full written tribute to John please click on 'About Us' (above) and select 'Hall of Memory'.Back to top of page
From time to time Anvil Chorus offers a 'Learn to Sing' course that is open to male members of the general public free of charge. The course is held in four sessions spread over four weeks and aims to teach the basics of breath control, vowel matching and other techniques that will enable those attending to sing in close harmony without musical accompaniment.
Attendees will be assessed to determine their suitable voice part (tenor, bass, baritone or lead [the 'melody' part]) and will learn two songs for which the possibility of singing publicly may arise at a later date. They will be joined throughout the course by members of Anvil Chorus who will be there to assist and encourage, overseen by Anvil's Musical Director.
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Anvil Chorus' ever-popular quartet, 'Classmates', is much sought after for external gigs but rarely are they asked to sing at the inauguration of a transatlantic airline route! The quartet is shown recently at Manchester Airport helping to celebrate the launch of a new Continental Airlines route between that city and Washington DC.
They didn't say if they collected any air miles but I know the reception they received had them flying high!Back to top of page
On Saturday 27th March 2010 Anvil Chorus had the good fortune to engage the coaching services of Jo Braham, lead singer of the highly successful quartet, "After Hours." Jo is currently with the lady's barbershop chorus, 'The White Rosettes'. We all enjoyed a great day when we learned some moves to go with one of our contest numbers - "Strike up the Band/Leaderman" medley.Back to top of page