Our earlier news
We Sing For Our Supper - Christmas 2014
Gospel Phonics dined together in lively style at our Christmas dinner and celebrated another very happy year of singing together. We were fed well by Red Carpet Restaurant at Eastleigh College and of course we had to sing at the end to show our appreciation for the warm hospitaility we recieved. You can see more pictures of the evening in the photo gallery here.
Fundraiser for Medical Team operating in Sierra Leone
On a cold wet night at the end of November we warmed up the audience at the Waterside Theatre in Hythe. Along with other local bands, musicians and singers we had a great time at the concert performing a mix of African and Gospel music and an arrangment of Amazing Grace which has particular resonance with the sponsor, Cornerstone URC, which supports a local medical team working in Sierra Leone to defeat the Ebola epidemic.
A little bit of fine tuning backstage during the warm up at the Waterside Theatre before our set at the fundraising concert.
The event sponsor Debbie Pickering sent us news that the concert and general fundraising has raised around £5000. There will be a shipment of medical supplies going out to Sierra Leone very soon. They have a link with a contact in Sierra Leonean who has made available part of his shipping unit at a very good price so gloves, 200 buckets etc will be on the move soon. Also £1000 will be going out to The St George Foundation orphanage just outside Freetown. Members of the team stay there when they go out to Sierra Leone and their work is incredible. They take in orphans / street children for a year before trying to reunite the children with family members; at the moment they are also taking in 35 children every 6 weeks – these children are either orphaned due to Ebola or have had Ebola and their communities are reluctant to welcome them back out of fear. They desperately need help so the money will make a huge difference. Debbie says that is just the beginning of the help we can now offer out in Sierra Leone.
In the video below we are performing Joshua Fit The Battle Of Jericho during the fundraiser.
Ebola Fundraising Concert
Gospelphonics will be taking part in a concert on 28 November at the Waterside Theatre in Hythe, to raise funds to combat Ebola in Sierra Leone. It promises to be great evening with a big line up of local bands and acts including Trav Cats, Jamie Bynam and the The X Presidents, Mike Vaughan, Ryan Moore, Robin Somes - Acoustic guitarist, Andrew Goddard Crawley - The Waterside Magician and Roger Lapin - Magician, St Johns Youth, Joey Brenig-Jones and choir, comedienne Ali Boon and Kwame's African drumming band African Activities.
Please come along and support. Apart from enjoying a wonderful evening you can really make a difference by supporting this fundraiser. Every penny raised will be going out to support the work of local teams in Sierra Leone. Tickets should be purchased in advance from The Herald office in Hythe, The Waterside theatre office and Hythe Cornerstone church next to the post office depot. Prices are £10, children £7.50, OAPs £8. Doors open at 6.30pm.
May It Be – The Language of Elves
Gospel music is at the centre of our repertoire but the choir does enjoy exploring other genres and this season one of the pieces we are working on is the enchanting song “May It Be” composed by Enya and Roma Ryan for the 2001 film The Lord of the Rings, The Fellowship of the Ring. It is a beautifully lyrical piece which expresses strong emotion and lends itself very well to gentle and sustained choral singing. The lyrics are open to interpretation beyond the context of Tolkein’s story . They convey a sense of hope when enclosed in darkness and of being alone at every turn. They also speak of faith in the future when all will be resolved in a peace which will follow present struggle. The lyrics are in English but with some Elfin phrases from the Quenya language which was created by J.R.R. Tolkien for his Lord of the Rings trilogy. Mornië utúlië, interprets as "Darkness has come" and Mornië alantië as "Darkness has fallen, so we sing "Mornië utúlië, believe and you will find your way; Mornië alantië, a promise lives within you now". Gospel Phonics are singing an SSAB arrangement but just for now, why not take a few minutes to listen to Enya.
A New Term
As the summer edges to close we have much to look forward to as we get back together on Tuesday 16 September to start the new term with Gospel Phonics. It is a time of happy anticipation - what does Gemma have in mind for us to polish up and refresh our repertoire? It is also time to catch up with everyone after the break and of course it is always a pleasure to meet new members. So whether you are an old hand in the choir, a newcomer or you are returning after a spell away, there is plenty on offer for you.
Friends and Family Concert
We had a great concert for friends and family which was well received by a very appreciative audience. We raised £242 from the raffle which was held in aid of our nominated charity, the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Air Ambulance which is entirely dependent on charitable funding so we were delighted to give the charity our support.
A representative from the Air Ambulance who attended the concert thanked us for choosing the Air Ambulance as our charity for the evening, saying the concert “is the sort of thing that truly does put a smile on one's face”.
So now we look forward to one last 'sing' of this term, preparing for a forthcoming wedding, and then we take a summer break. We start rehearsals again on Tuesday 16th September.
Africa Day in Hythe
Come and see us in Hythe, on the edge of the New Forest National Park, on Saturday 28th June where we will be performing in support of the African charity event at Hythe Cornerstone URC Church. The event will help to fund a group of volunteers who go each year to a remote jungle village in Sierra Leone to help bring healthcare, water etc to the people. The group is also now working in surrounding areas where there is currently no healthcare at all. The aim of Africa Day is to raise awareness about this work in Africa, to raise funds and to highlight other groups helping out in Africa. It is a family day with music, African crafts, food and displays. Gospel Phonics will be singing a selection of African and gospel music.
A Busy Week
The choir has been busy enjoying itself with two very happy additions to our usual programme. A large group had a great evening at the Gareth Malone Concert at the Guildhall in Portsmouth. The choir – not Gospel Phonics but Gareth Malone's new choir Voices! - was quite beautiful and seats in the circle gave the benefit of the best acoustics in the house. The audience was so attentive and seemingly could hardly breathe when three sopranos sang one of our own favourites 'Wherever You Are.'
We continued the fun later in the week with a choir supper. The food was great and the ever versatile Ben proved an excellent quiz master. The evening provided an ideal opportunity to catch up – not always easy on a Tuesday rehearsal evening.
So now refreshed and thinking about our own upcoming concerts, we return in good shape to what we also enjoy. SINGING!!!
Supporting our Air Ambulance
Gospel Phonics will be sponsoring the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Air Ambulance through fundraising at our Friends and Family Concert in Fair Oak on 7 July 2014.
The helicopter service has been in operation since 2007 and is based at Thruxton Airfield near Andover. We regularly see it in operation and take great reassurance that the ambulance crew daily provides a crucial response to incidents throughout Hampshire and the Isle of Wight, so it is great that we are able to contribute to the charity. You can read more about its activities here.
Many thanks to John Ambler for the spectacular photograph of the aircraft. You can see more of his work here.
Bursledon Music Festival
With an exciting line up of musicians and bands, there was a great buzz about Bursledon Village Hall where we had a fabulous time performing at the 2014 Big Bursfest Music Festival. With everyone there to enjoy themselves it was a pleasure to perform for such a lively audience. A real bonus was the impromptu musical work out with the marvellous Southampton Ukulele Jam which suddenly had the entire hall, audience, ukuleles and choir performing in a harmony brilliantly conjured up in seconds by our Musical Director Gemma Nichols. What better way to support the Festival’s two special causes - the Village hall saved from destruction after 100 years and brought back to life by the people of Bursledon and now run as a charitable trust. Receiving an equal share of the Festival proceeds is Hampshire Air Ambulance, so Gospel Phonics was delighted to support these two excellent charities.
We are working on three African American spirituals, Steal Away, Down to the River and Joshua Fit the Battle of Jericho. The arrangements we sing have wonderful harmony, dynamic and rhythm and so are simply great for a choir to sing. We are also drawn to the meaning of these songs with their several layers - they are spiritual with religious and biblical references but they also carry heartfelt messages of hope and freedom from the pain of slavery within which this rich music has its foundation.
The Big Bursfest - Bursledon Music Festival
We are looking forward to performing at The Big Bursfest Music Festival on Saturday 8th February. The festival is in aid of the village hall which at 100 years old hall was saved from demolition, rebuilt by the people of Bursledon in 2000 and is now operated as a charitable trust. There is also a nominated charity, for 2014 the Hampshire Air Ambulance, which will receive half the proceeds from this non profit making festival. Gospel Phonics donates its contribution to the concert in support of these charities. For more details of the venue, times, tickets and acts please visit the festival website.
New Year New Term
Gospel Phonics begin the New Year on 7 January 2014 with rehearsals at Crestwood College at the usual time of 8pm. What better way to blow away the cobwebs? For anyone making New Year resolutions it could also be a useful opportunity to take up or get back into singing. As a reminder of what we have to look forward to, there are some video clips of the Friends and Family concert which we gave in July 2012 which can be viewed in the Video Gallery.
Christmas Dinner 2013
We had a lovely evening dining together at the Aspire Restaurant at Southampton City College. It was an excellent opportunity to take time to meet and get to know other members of Gospel Phonics a little better. Full credit goes to Mary who organised the dinner. She was there to greet us when we arrived and to say farewell as we departed and she made sure everything went with a swing. We were invited to sing to the catering staff who lined up at the end of the dinner. They had looked after us really well, so we wished them a Merry Christmas in the best possible way. Some photos here.
Christmas is upon us
As Christmas 2013 approaches we hold our last rehearsal of the term with some carolling and this night we are relaxed and singing for fun. It is great to be reunited with some members of the choir who have been away for a while, a final evening together before we take a break.
To mark the passing of Nelson Mandela on the day that tens of thousands join in Soweto for his memorial service, we begin by singing the poignant South African song "Freedom is Coming" one of our favourite concert numbers. This evening it is for us both plaintive and uplifting, full of meaning.
Then we work up two wonderful old carols - "Deck the Hall" and "Joy to the World" - in no time we have the harmonies working with all the joy of singing together. It is rather appropriate that we are singing the words of Isaac Watts, a Southampton man. No wonder "Joy to the World" became the most-published Christmas hymn in North America.
The ladies of the chorus have found some fizz and the ever obliging basses are happy to serve it so we conclude the evening with an opportunity to catch up over a glass (OK a plastic cup). As we head home there is a sense that Gospel Phonics is in good shape. Numbers are up, notably in the bass section. We have had some successful and enjoyable concerts which have raised funds for a few charitable causes and we have taken on new music and expanded our repertoire over the last year. There is a big round of applause for Gemma and Ben who kept us so well together.
It's not quite over though, we meet again later in the week to dine together.