Fourteen Go Mad in Christchurch

La Nova Singers dancing on Christchurch Quay

How did it all end up like this? La Nova Singers, making a spectacle of themselves once again, flinging their skirts around and doing the can-can while Christchurch and District Band play ‘The Stripper‘…?!

Well, dear readers, let me take you back; back to a sunny Saturday in late June. It is a picture-perfect morning, and very appropriate for La Nova Singers’ photoshoot with Nichola of Lemonade Pictures (note: most of the pictures in this blog post are behind-the-scenes shots taken by Nigel, our Official Photographer and Michelle’s husband. We’re waiting for the right moment to show you the fantastic pictures Nichola took – they’re worth the wait!).

Virginia, Su B & Alison in Christchurch Priory for photoshoot

The shoot begins well. All is serene and elegant in Christchurch Priory, as the singers pose up stairs, down side aisles and in front of stained glass windows. In the background, a tea trolley waits for an opportunity to get past. Unlike the previous photoshoot, nobody tells us off for scaring away the tourists…

Liz and Michelle in Christchurch Priory for photoshoot

Here is Liz, above left – as you can see, she is delighted to finally be appearing in some of our publicity photographs!

There then follows a bit of a malarkey getting heavily pregnant Mel up and down a very steep and possibly Medieval stone staircase. We all have to sit in some decidedly dodgy grass wearing our black frocks. Fortunately nobody falls down the hill and shatters their jewellery, although we have public liability insurance just in case.

Photo by Nichola of Lemonade Pictures

Photo by Nichola of Lemonade Pictures

After a brief interval of pretending to be in a Westlife music video, all windswept and staring wistfully into the middle-distance, we adjourn to The Regent Centre – where a dressing room has very kindly been provided for the all-important costume change! Then out we go for more photos…

Anne T and Rachel in Christchurch for photoshoot

Anne T and Rachel stand by some trees.

Debbie and Jennie in Christchurch for photoshoot

We all stand by some trees. Here we are, here are the trees.

Su C and Anne M by a tree

This is getting a bit ridiculous.

Holly and Pat in Christchurch for photoshoot

Okay, so once we’d exhausted the photographic possibilities offered by trees, we decided to go down to Christchurch Quay and perhaps have our photos taken on the bandstand. This is something we’d been hoping to do at our previous photoshoot, but it had not happened because there was a band on the bandstand. But today, as it happened…

(video by Eric Montague of Netfora)

… The Christchurch and District Concert Band were opening celebrations for the 75th anniversary of the bandstand! As you can hear from the above video, they’re really rather brilliant (and you can also check them out on Facebook). Some very unwise person suggested to Michelle that we should go over and dance. Something to remember: you should never make a suggestion to Michelle Nova unless you’re prepared for her to take you seriously…!

Musical Shenanigans in Christchurch

Not content to have their performance hi-jacked by a group of giggly women in bridesmaid dresses, the band countered by giving an unrehearsed performance of ‘The Stripper‘ – an instrumental piece first recorded by David Rose And His Orchestra, which “evokes the feel of music used to accompany striptease artists”. Readers may, however, be more familiar with it in this guise…

In a world where the flashmob performance has become a knee-jerk marketing response, orchestrated by companies promoting any old product or service, it was refreshing to do something genuinely spontaneous and more than a bit silly! We even had a short piece published about it in the Bournemouth Echo.

La Nova Singers - impromptu frolic!

At the end of the day, as well as having slightly embarrassed ourselves, we ended up with some really beautiful photographs and had an enormous amount of fun! So our thanks go to Nichola Rogers and her assistant Kristy (be sure to check out the Lemonade Pictures website for some gorgeous wedding photography!), and to the Christchurch and District Band and their conductor Steff Emmett (who you can see at The Regent Centre in November, at the Christchurch Festival of Remembrance) for being so tolerant of our dancing!

Even brighter than the moon moon moon – The Mega Choir!

The Mega Choir

The Mega Choir! Photo accredited to Samantha Toy 2013

Something big hit the local singing scene this May – something big, bright and very uplifting!

The Mega Choir was a huge collaborative choral event, orchestrated by the From Knowhere team in aid of mental health charity Mind. The premise was that you often cannot tell, when you first meet someone, whether they are a singer.*

Likewise, you cannot tell from looking at a person whether they have a mental health issue. The positive effect that choral singing can have on a person’s thinking and emotional state has been seen time and again; so what better way to raise awareness and funds for Mind, than to put together a massive choir?! Here’s the view from the stage:

Mega Choir - view from the stage

Do you ever feel like a plastic bag? Don’t answer that; it was a rhetorical question.

And thus it was that five fantastic forces of vocal virtuosity (that’s choirs, to the layperson) came together at Bournemouth’s O2 Academy to perform for a large and very appreciative audience. La Nova Singers performed alongside the Funky Little Choir; World Music Choir; Happy Heart Singers and the Chicken Soup Choir. The venue was rather impressive, and used to be called The Opera House: La Nova Singers approve.

The Chicken Soup Choir rehearse at the Mega Choir event.

The Chicken Soup Choir in rehearsal

The event was conducted by the very charismatic Mark De Lisser. Mr De Lisser has previously starred in BBC talent show ‘Last Choir Standing’ with his contemporary music choir, the ACM Gospel Choir and is a vocal coach on ‘The Voice’. But this time he had met his match…

 Mega Choir - Mark De Lisser has his photo taken with Debbie 'Superstar' Lloyd

Mark De Lisser has his photo taken with Debbie ‘Superstar’ Lloyd

It was a long day – all the singers arrived at the venue for 11.30 am, and we were there until about 10.30 when the concert finished. The From Knowhere team very kindly provided teas, coffee and a self-serve sandwich production line. There was also an additional brilliant way to raise funds for Mind, and that was through the power of cake. It was worth participating in this event just for the deliciously chocolatey Rocky Road, available in exchange for a modest charitable donation. My bit had about half a packet of Maltesers in it.

La Nova Singers backstage at The Mega Choir event in Bournemouth

Here are La Nova Singers backstage, waiting to go on as part of the Mega Choir: for the first, and quite possibly last, time you will hear dramatic soprano Michelle Nova perform songs by Cheryl Cole and Katy Perry in public!!

Mega Choir performs, whilst Mark De Lisser rocks the silver jacket. Photo accredited to Samantha Toy 2013

Mega Choir performs, whilst Mark De Lisser rocks the silver jacket. Photo accredited to Samantha Toy 2013

As well as ‘Promise This’ and ‘Firework’, the massed choir performed the classic ‘Stand By Me’ in Mark De Lisser’s distinctive arrangement; and the show closed with a feel-good sing-a-long to ‘Higher and Higher’. La Nova Singers also opened the second half with a performance of our more usual repertoire, which went down really well with the audience.

La Nova Singers perform at The Mega Choir event

La Nova Singers perform – no VPL here! Photo by Mark De Lisser.

All things considered, this was a really fantastic event and we were proud to be a part of it.

* unless it’s Michelle Nova, who radiates soprano-ness. People have been known to back away from her in supermarket checkout queues, fearing that a dramatic aria is imminent.

Spring comes to Ringwood… well, almost.

La Nova Singers in rehearsal

So. Last year we learned that if you make preparations to put on an event entitled ‘Summer Garden Concert‘, you will inevitably end up with the wettest summer in 100 years.

And this year, just to drive the message home, we had two concerts sub-titled ‘A choral celebration of spring’. If you’ve been outside in the last few weeks – or considered going outside, looked out of the window and then thought better of it – you will have noticed that conditions in the UK have not been exactly spring-like.

But that has never held back La Nova Singers from our mission of performing uplifting choral music, and so it was that we returned to Ringwood Meeting House on 20th April for a concert that seemed to be enjoyed by all present.

Classical choral concert in Hampshire

The Meeting House is an unusual venue, but a lovely performance space.


Pianist Celia Cologne in rehearsal for La Nova Singers concert, Ringwood; with Steven Howard on fluteCelia Cologne is no stranger to Ringwood audiences, having had a long career on the stage! For this concert she was not only accompanying us on piano, but provided expert advice to Anne T for her Noël Coward solo, ‘Please, Mrs Worthington!’. Steve Howard was on hand for flute accompaniment and page-turning.

Behind the scenes - second soprano line in blue!Despite appearances, no deliberate effort was made to co-ordinate dresses for this concert!

Bella Nova Singers perform in Ringwood, with classical singing teacher Michelle NovaThe Bella Nova Singers young ensemble also performed, slightly low on numbers but aided by Anne T and Josie .

Photo by Dennis of Rivendell Designs Photography

Photo by Dennis of Rivendell Designs Photography

Three Little Maids refusing to be held back by the mysterious disappearance of their fans!

Colourful Dorset choir La Nova Singers perform in Ringwood Meeting House

Let’s hear it for the Studio Choir! – Joint concert for Macmillan Caring Locally is a resounding success

Michelle Nova, singer and singing teacher, with the Studio Choir at a concert in Bournemouth

It’s not an unusual story in this day and age: a disparate group of women, brought together almost by chance and faced with the apparently insurmountable task of forming themselves into an elite singing ensemble. In just a few short weeks, these women became a fully-fledged choir. Their mission: to sing – aargh! – in public, and raise some money for charity into the bargain.

But this is not a television show. This is the Studio Choir, formed from participants in singing teacher Michelle Nova’s first all-female Bel Canto choral course. Like the now-famous Military Wives Choir created by Gareth Malone, they enjoyed the many benefits of singing: the intense focus that takes your mind off day-to-day worry; the conscious breathing and good posture; and the confidence that comes from mastering a difficult challenge. They have also had the opportunity to study techniques passed down by the great Bel Canto singers of history, and put these to use in a charity concert for Christchurch-based cancer charity Macmillan Caring Locally.

Studio Choir, La Nova Singers, Bella Nova Singers and Michelle Nova

We members of La Nova Singers were of course not allowed to rest on our laurels and let these other talented women do all the singing! The concert, ‘Light is my Heart’, featured performances from ourselves and our ‘little sister’ ensemble Bella Nova Singers; so there was a wide range of different music for the audience to enjoy. All the singers joined together to perform songs including Ricevete from Mozart’s Marriage of Figaro, and The Rhythm of Life.

Thanks to a generous audience, we raised £365 for Macmillan Caring Locally.

Exclusive video footage from the concert will soon be available from the La Nova Studios YouTube channel.