The Games Maker Choir annual review…the musical legacy continues
2018 holds more wonderful memories for The Games Maker Choir. As the New Year dawned, we had no real idea of what was in store; we had our eye on some targets, but as ever, this unique choir was ready to run with some surprises!
We wouldn’t be a British choir, without talking about the weather! And the great British weather has played its part in the choir’s activities this year. It started with the second rehearsal of the year in March being cancelled due to the wintry conditions sadly making travel from all points of the UK compass to our Battersea rehearsal home in St Michael’s Church just that bit too difficult. Members of this unique choir have the opportunity to rehearse together just once a month usually, so it was a big decision to cancel the event. However, technology also plays a big part in our success and online tutorials via Facebook were put to the test, enabling the guiding talents of our Musical Director Christopher Killerby to be focussed on each section of the choir, complementing the variety of digital tools used as learning aids. All very clever, and very useful, but there is nothing quite like meeting up with our ‘choir family’ and singing together – in person!
The choir’s repertoire has again grown in 2018, with new songs learnt and old ones revisited, including various national anthems. One of our event targets this year was the Vitality Women’s Hockey World Cup at London’s Lee Valley Hockey and Tennis Centre in August. Although behind the scenes event organisation and participation discussions are often lengthy (handled magnificently by Choir Manager Liz Stainthorpe) and final performance confirmation can often be relatively short notice, it’s all part of the attraction of rehearsing and being ‘performance ready’. Added to this the very nature of tournaments is that you never really know which teams are going to reach the final stages.
Luckily the choir’s anthem repertoire is pretty extensive, international sporting occasions being one of our U.S.P.s; and the hockey pundits and experts were consulted so we had an idea of which country’s anthems to focus on in rehearsals. However, of course, the Irish ladies had other ideas, and so ‘Ireland’s Call’ was learnt at (even for us) short notice Watch Ireland’s Call, so that we could have the honour of singing this rousing anthem with others to a capacity crowd at the semi-finals on the 4th August. We like to think we played a small part in the team winning this match to go on to the final with Australia – a magnificent ‘first’ for Ireland! The other major aspect of this match and the tournament was the weather! The hottest British summer for many years meant that we, the teams and officials performed in 30 degree plus heat, another challenge met and achieved with pride!
September and October saw extra rehearsals too, in readiness for another new experience with an astonishing concert (thankfully with no weather issues) as we were welcomed to perform at a new venue; St John the Evangelist Church in Upper Norwood. The church is the rehearsal and regular performance home of The Central Band of The Royal British Legion and we were made very welcome as guests at the band’s wonderful Stage & Screen Concert at the end of October. This was a new experience for the choir, singing with a live band of very talented musicians under the direction of not one but two musical directors; Captain David Cole MVO and our own Christopher Killerby. Here’s to many more such collaborations!
Our December rehearsal morphed into a successful Seasonal Singalong with an audience of friends, family and local Batterseans joining us for an afternoon of sparkling music at St Michael’s Church to get us all into the Christmas spirit. This was followed a couple of weeks later by a lunchtime concert on the stage of the Queen Elizabeth Hall foyer, serenading South Bank visitors with seasonal songs and a couple of existing, and new, choir favourites. Both these events saw the blossoming of a new ‘mini maestro’ in the form of Jane Mitchell, a talented soprano and section leader who has returned after a short break to the choir and is now extending her musical influence as ‘conductor in training’. It’s what being a Games Maker is all about!
With all these inspirational leaders, and a whole team of skilled and enthusiastic volunteers working hard behind the scenes in a variety of ways, the choir is in good hands, and the London 2012 Olympic legacy continues. 2018 for the choir has been another year of ‘making our own kind of music’ and there’s every possibility that 2019 will be another great year of musical, sporting and choir family memories.
Here’s to a Happy, Healthy and Harmonious New Year to all our faithful followers.
Discover more about The Games Maker Choir:
Join the Choir: gamesmakerchoir.org.uk/join-us/
Meet and Book the Choir: gamesmakerchoir.org.uk/contact
Margaret - December 31, 2018