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.

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.

www.lanovasingers.co.uk

Christmas Concert in aid of the British Heart Foundation – Behind the Scenes

La Nova Singers at the Church of St Mary the Virgin in Dorchester

An early concert tonight; 3pm in Dorchester, at a place we’ve performed in once before. This time – some three years later – the Church of St Mary the Virgin has some new staging with lovely plush carpeting.

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Here we are in attack formation. Ready to attack… with song!

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And here’s the view from the stage. This church has really lovely acoustics – in fact, quite a lot of our 2010 CD ‘DEBUT’ was recorded there. It is also replete with lovely Christmas tree, lights a-twinkle. I should mention that this concert featured that other festive favourite, the mince pie. Icing sugar didst fall like the snow. I may or may not have performed with crumbs on my chin…

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These are just a few pics I managed to take during our rehearsal – hence the lack of posh frocks and serious bling. We may or may not have some video footage to post in future (and yes, I know I’m always promising video footage, I promise you it does exist! There are just a few technical issues that need to be worked out, i.e. getting the footage off the DVD and on to the blog)!

Meanwhile, you can read about the very good cause behind this concert in an article from the Dorset Echo. Holly Parkin, a health professional and mother of two from Dorchester, will be running the London Marathon in 2013 in aid of the British Heart Foundation and in memory of her cousin Jake. She organised this event and we wish her all the best with her fundraising!

Bears Aloud!

Time to share a few more photos from our Children in Need fundraising concert last week! Here we all are, sporting our fabulous Pudsey ears – and featuring new member Alison in the Second Soprano section…

And below, the girls from Bella Nova Singers brave the cold to collect money from the fine people of Ringwood:

Our most important contributors got a Children in Need sticker!

Tomorrow La Nova Singers will be back in the recording studio, putting down some more tracks for our upcoming CD! We’ll also have some behind-the-scenes footage from the last recording session for you, coming very soon – here on the La Nova Blog.

www.lanovasingers.co.uk

Thank you, Ringwood!

La Nova Singers & Bella Nova sing for Children in Need 2012, with Celia Cologne on piano. Photo by Rivendell Designs Photography.

Thank you Ringwood for raising a magnificent £365 in two hours on Saturday morning from 11 until about 1pm.

This 3pt ladies choir, dressed in its own-logo-purple t-shirts and teddy bear ears head gear, was invited to entertain for Children in Need in the Meeting House venue, accompanied by local musician Celia Cologne.  At one point there was some choral competition from 4 of Michelle’s teenage pupils as they drummed-up trade in the Sainsbury quadrangle, then joined us in the Meeting House for a session.  Finally we all moved back up outside, ending with a selection of Christmas carols.  Thank you WEATHER for being on our side, but most of all THANKYOU RINGWOOD FOR YOUR GENEROSITY TO CHILDREN IN NEED.

– Celia Cologne, local musician and accompanist extraordinaire!

We’d also like to thank those at the Meeting House, not only for kindly hosting us but for all their help in promoting the event; and of course Celia herself. We couldn’t have done it without you!

Marie Curie Walk Ten at Stourhead Gardens

In early September, the singers made their way to Wiltshire to perform at a very special event: the Marie Curie ‘Walk Ten’ twilight walk. Hundreds of walkers were serenaded in distinctive La Nova style as they strolled past Stourhead Gardens’ famous lake, by way of a mystical hidden grotto. Later, as the sun was setting, the singers perfomed ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’ and ‘Bridge Over Troubled Water’ as memory lanterns were lit and lights twinkled amongst the trees.

La Nova Singers are always on the look out for an interesting – if not wacky – place to sing!! Preferably one that has a decent mobile signal, so Mel can multi-task singing and organising her wedding…

Ascending to the summit of the grotto…

We must dance and we must sing, round about our fairy ring!

We’re not sure if the above photo shows us imitating a ring of dainty fairies… or a coven of crafty witches. Hail thou, Macbeth!

“Look! There’s a man with a camera!!”

As the sun sets over Stourhead, out come the fairy lights and glow-in-the-dark halos, and La Nova Singers strike a pose (… that unfortunately doesn’t show up very well on camera because of the aforementioned sunset)!

Stay tuned for video footage, filmed in the dark, where it appears as though we are being conducted by a phosphorescent Creature from the Black Lagoon…!

www.lanovasingers.co.uk

Macmillan Caring Locally Charity Concert

There was an autumnal chill in the air as an audience was ushered into the warmth of West Cliff Baptist Church; on this night, La Nova Singers would give a concert in aid of Macmillan Caring Locally. Neal Williams, the trust’s secretary, was kind enough to attend and introduce the evening.

The singers performed music from right across their repertoire, beginning with Baroque favourites by Handel and Mozart (which some of the audience would remember from the group’s spectacular Somerley House concert in 2009). John Rutter made a brief appearance with some characteristically memorable pieces, and the first half ended with the ethereally beautiful ‘In Paradisum’ from the Fauré Requiem. Steven Howard brought an added dimension to this and other pieces with his flute accompaniment, which blended beautifully with the voices.

Tonight was a special occasion, being the first official concert performance of a new group of singers: the Bella Nova quartet. Although the four girls have only been singing together for a year, they charmed the audience with their renditions of Howard Goodall’s Vicar of Dibley theme, Brahms’ Lullaby and Eric Clapton’s Tears in Heaven.

The concert’s second half opened in darkness with Puccini’s Humming chorus, the singers processing towards the stage as they sang, each illuminated by a small votive. The audience then enjoyed the infamous Cat Duet; Paul Simon’s Bridge over Troubled Water; and Su Convy’s star turn as soloist in “Can’t Help Lovin’ Dat Man”.

The concert ended as it began, with a rousing rendition of the Hallelujah Chorus; and Michelle Nova extended the group’s thanks to their new pianist, Victor Burbidge – who, despite having only been playing for the group since August, has already made a big impression!

La Nova Singers will now be busy preparing for their festive offering, ‘Songs of Christmas Past’, at Highcliffe Castle on 14 December.