Love Music Community Choir spreads harmony across the city – Steve Cardownie

The massed ranks of the Love Music Community Choir and Junior Choir at the Usher Hall
The massed ranks of the Love Music Community Choir and Junior Choir at the Usher Hall
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What great ­entertainment! The concert performance by the Love Music Community Choir and their counterparts in the Junior Choir at the Usher Hall on Monday was certainly value for money, as they put on a great show which left the audience wanting to hear more.

Having witnessed the event, I was interested to find out more about how the choirs were established and also how easy it is to take part.

Love Music producer Ruth Davie was more than happy to provide me with the information I was looking for and she is certainly an enthusiastic advocate.

She told me that the Community Choir is in the happy position of ­having a full membership and, what’s more, also a healthy waiting list. But she was keen to spread the word about the Junior Choir’s quest for new members.

Membership stretches across Edinburgh, with singers resident in all postcode areas from EH1 to EH17 and further afield. Children of all abilities and backgrounds are welcomed, with more than half receiving free places and half being resident in areas which are highly ranked in the Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation.

The youngsters involved embrace what the choir has to offer and take the opportunity to make friends with other members from other parts of the city, extending their network of pals.

Ruth informed me that the choir is run in partnership with The City of Edinburgh Council and is part-funded by Creative Scotland. Free places are on offer for anyone who may have difficulty paying and transport assistance for bus travel to and from rehearsals and events is also on offer.

The choir is “non-auditioned, inclusive and accessible” with many parents and singers giving feedback on how the choir has increased their confidence and their appreciation of music, as well as being great fun.

The Love Music Junior Choir is open to Edinburgh’s 8-12 year olds, rehearsing at the acoustically splendid Usher Hall on Mondays from 4.30pm-5.30pm, where it is directed by renowned educator Stephen Deazley, accompanied by “jazz legend” Dave Milligan.

The next term starts on 2 September and provides exciting performance opportunities as well as the chance to work with inspirational guest musicians. Term dates and full information, including an online sign up form are available on the Junior Choir website at www.juniorchoir.lovemusic.org.uk

There is no doubt that both the Community Choir and the Junior Choir play an important role in helping to foster self-awareness and confidence within its ranks, with many of its members expressing just how important it is to them and how it has transformed their attitude and ­outlook.

The support of the city council is much appreciated and crucial for its long-term existence.

At a time when some local authorities are looking to cut back on free music tuition and expenditure, the success of both choirs bears testimony to just how much can be achieved with the appropriate support.

Although the limit of my musical ability is belting out Bobby Darin’s classic song Things in the shower (no connection between the song and the activity, I can assure you) many others do take up the opportunity to sing as part of a choir, but for those who decline to do so, there is always the option of having a cracking night out by purchasing a ticket for one of the many events in the choir’s calendar.

Monday’s concert was an uplifting experience – my personal favourite was the rendition by both choirs of Coldplay’s Yellow – and the infectious enthusiasm expressed by the choirs spread throughout the auditorium and ensured that many of the audience will be paying a return visit.

Community initiatives such as this are often unreported but I make no excuse for devoting some column inches to the work and dedication of the “unsung heroes” (pun intended ) of the choirs who make success stories like this possible.

Yes or No – do celebs sway your vote?

Angus Macfadyen, the actor who plays Robert the Bruce, hopes that the film will boost the chances of a Yes vote in any future referendum on Scottish independence and he has every right to express his opinions – he is not the first, and certainly won’t be the last celebrity to champion a political cause.

How many times have we heard Oscar or British Academy Award winners expressing their political preferences when picking up their prize?

Before the last general election many so-called celebs publicly announced their voting intentions and the newspapers of the day carried articles telling us who was advocating what. Many others, both here and abroad, have publicly thrown their weight behind a political candidate or party in an attempt to attract voters to their cause by doing so and it is nothing new.

Prior to the first independence referendum the pro-union cause was supported by the likes of Mike Myers, Emma Thompson, Susan Boyle and Billy Connolly with the pro-independence camp rolling out Gerard Butler, Alan Cumming, Sean Connery, Brian Cox and Andy Murray – and so it goes on.

If some people are swayed by them then that’s just how it goes – but if you voted No because Eddie Izzard’s trip to Edinburgh to plead the unionist cause influenced you I wouldn’t shout it from the rooftops if I were you!

Stop the park strife, there’s room for all

I have written before about the number of events staged in Edinburgh’s parks and green spaces and, having recognised that these should be limited to allow them to return to the recreational space that they were designed to be, I wonder who goes to these events, if not the public?

The thousands of people who pay for tickets and attend the concerts in West Princes Street Gardens are also members of the public, largely from Edinburgh, who have the right to be taken into consideration when determining future strategies for public park use.

Some of the opinions expressed in the media leave you with the impression that some people do not want to see any events in our public parks and green spaces, even when the evidence demonstrates that there are many thousands more members of the public at the events than would be in the park had the event not been on!

Edinburgh boasts a great number of public parks, to say nothing of its woodlands and other green spaces – so let’s accommodate all park users as members of the public and not deny those who want to see a concert or event the opportunity of doing so.

A little perspective is all that is required.