Farewell to the Festival!

On Sunday, our day started with a brilliant keynote from Dr Katie Overy to start our day of research-focussed sessions. Sessions in the morning included four further presentations of research papers, repertoire sessions, meet the composer and a session on lifelong singing with Jordan Travis! The Festival concluded with all delegates joining together to sing for David Lawrence before having lunch together and then starting their journeys back home.

We hope that the Festival provided all delegates with inspiration for the forthcoming year…and with sessions covering repertoire, European choral music, community choirs and research presentations (to name just a few!) we hope that there was something for everyone!

All delegates are invited to provide feedback for the Festival and it’s really valuable for us to hear your comments as we start planning for next year!

Feedback can be provided here (using the online form):

Alternatively, please return your paper feedback forms to Elisabeth Brierley, our Training Manager!

As we sign off from this year’s Festival blog, we couldn’t resist creating a final gallery slideshow with images of all five choirs who performed so wonderfully for us at the two Festival Gala Concert. Thank you to all the performers and conductors…and now the abcd team are signing off from 2019 Festival duties and moving on to other Autumn training events! For more information about upcoming abcd events, please do follow us on Facebook, Twitter (@abcdtweets) or visit our website.

Saturday at the Festival!

In our opening plenary panel, Richard Jeffries, Anna Tabbush, Hannah Brine and Craig McLeish shared their experiences of setting up and running their community choirs. These valuable insights from the panel and questions from the floor made for a really interesting and informative session to set us up for the day!

Morning workshops included Alan Bullard’s session leading delegates through his ‘Flexible Songs for Choirs’ book, ABRSM’s presentation on their exciting new Music Theatre syllabus, Craig McLeish discussing versatile community choir arrangements, and Peter Broadbent & Jeremy Haneman’s session on the importance of teaching pronunciation to singers. It was a wonderful, varied morning of inspiration for all!

Before lunch, Jordan Travis delivered a brilliant workshop considering how conductors can make their leadership more collaborative and engaging and why this benefits our choirs, and more broadly builds our communities.

It’s also been beautiful weather today so delegates then enjoyed their lunch outside the Conservatoire before we were treated to a great post lunch recital by Lutley Community Voices, led by abcd member Margaret Jones.

This afternoon, some of our delegates had the wonderful opportunity to take a trip out of Birmingham to visit Elgar’s birthplace, The Firs in nearby Lower Broadheath, Worcestershire! As well as a bespoke guided tour of The Firs, these delegates will then come together to sing some of Elgar’s choral music whilst at the birthplace. What a memorable experience it will be.

Meanwhile back at the Conservatoire, delegates have been exploring the trade exhibition and attending a brilliant recital by Dynamic Voices from the Singing Community of Choirs (Artistic Director: Richard Jeffries). David Lawrence has also delivered a fantastic session on tried and tested ways to deliver classic repertoire to community choirs, learning either from music or by rote.

Tonight we’re looking forward to what promises to be a spectacular Gala Concert, with performances from the National Youth Choir of Hungary, Town Hall Gospel Choir and the Chamber Choir of London!

Friday at the Festival!

Our day started with a thought-provoking plenary considering the future of choral music in Europe. Planned in association with the European Choral Association, it was brilliant to have speakers on our panel from across Europe, including Burak Onur Erdem (representing ECA), Peter Broadbent (abcd tutor and respected British choral director), Péter Erdei (Conductor – National Youth Choir of Hungary) and Naomi Bath (ISM’s Senior Research & Policy Officer).

This morning, workshops included a ‘Meet the Choir’ session with the National Youth Choir of Hungary exploring the Hungarian choral music tradition, Paul Spicer‘s ‘Undiscovered Gems’ session with a focus on English choral music, a repertoire session with exhibitor composers and a ‘Meet the Composer’ session with David Bednall.

Two of our European presenters have also been delivering sessions throughout the day. Astrid Vang Pederson delivered an incredible ‘Concert Design’ session considering how we plan our concerts to create a holistic, truly sensory experience. Professor Jim Daus Hjernoe then delivered a dynamic session on ‘The Intelligent Choir’, considering how to develop the conductors and chorister’s musicianship through use of solfege, VOPA (Vocal Painting) and the idea of “Kucheza” (the Swahili word for ‘play’), which advocates incorporating the body/the voice/creativity and fun simultaneously in music making.

Yesterday, we said goodbye to our two Festival Course groups who spent an enjoyable few days working with Amy Bebbington and Julian Wilkins. One of our Festival Course Conductors commented that it had been a “Really enjoyable and a packed agenda from start to end. I can’t remember ever getting so much from a short course!”.

Whilst we said goodbye to the Festival Course, we’ve welcomed our Young Conductors to the Festival! They’ve been working with Lucy Griffiths on a selection of music from OUP’s European Sacred Music, Madrigals & Partsongs and SongStream and in this afternoon’s session they even had some extra singers from one of our Gala Concert’s choir, London Youth Choir!

Young Conductors working with Lucy Griffiths

Our inspiring closing plenary was led by Gareth Malone and Catherine de Sybel who led delegates through their new songbook – Bright Star: Inclusive Songs for Whole Group Singing (published by Hal Leonard). The session focused on how to encourage singing in schools and developing strategies and repertoire for those children who are reticent to start singing. A fantastic session of singing and inspiration to end the day!

We still have our Gala Concert to come, with performances from London Youth Choir and Singing Community of Choir‘s Senior Choir…but for now the abcd team are logging off and getting ready for another exciting day tomorrow!