First event – Saturday 8th March, Fairfield Halls, Croydon.

Last updated: Jan 30th, 2019

The team and I leave the office on Friday evening, heading straight to our hotel for the night. We’re all really excited about the first audition and our first ‘Top Tips on Touring’ session. Sensibly we all return to our rooms for a good night’s rest and for me a spot of light rehearsal of our presentation. The performances I just know are going to be amazing – we have to make sure our session complements this experience!

All rehearsed and prepared by midnight – time to re-charge the batteries!

An early rise and off to Fairfield Halls we go. We meet the Choir of the Year team at the stage door and we’re all very aware that we have such a lot to set up before choirs start arriving in the next hour or so.

Amazing stage, lots of running around, and amidst all this the first youth choirs start to arrive. Their excitement is tangible and as a parent, I couldn’t help but just stand back and appreciate these wonderful young choristers, all full of nerves and excitement!

We’re all finally set up, the box office is opened and the Choir of The Year organisers start ushering choirs into the auditorium and the first competing choir into their position!

“There’s no doubt in our minds that the judges have an extremely challenging task on their hands; all the choirs were so brilliant in very different ways.”

Both the morning and afternoon sessions are out of this world, with the standard really quite impressive. There’s no doubt in our minds that the judges have an extremely challenging task on their hands; all the choirs were so brilliant in very different ways. It’s great to see choirs are attending with such a variety of repertoire styles and across the ages. It goes without saying that sitting there I could of course see every single one of these groups on a choir tour! They’re clearly all happy to “put themselves out there”, all sing to a fabulous standard, and the common denominator, they all have inspirational Musical Directors dedicating themselves to their choir.

The choirs all receive feedback on their performances from the judges; a good mix of healthy critique, appreciation and sound advice from judges who between them have a wealth of experience in developing UK choirs. For a brief moment the format feels quite similar to the “X Factor”, with the big difference being that all choirs walk away feeling extremely proud of what they’ve achieved and armed with practical advice on how to develop their singing as an ensemble.

The morning session comes to a close, and our host for the day Mr Stuart Barr leads all choirs and audience members in a workshop. Singing in rounds, finding a pitch – not terms that I would normally associate with myself! Stuart does a fantastic job of getting everyone involved and I find myself tweeting about this small singing success! Tweeting while watching and singing, another first at an event like this, but widely encouraged by Choir of the Year! Keep your eye on #choiroftheyear and @RayburnConcert on twitter to make sure you are kept up to date with what’s happening at each event!

Croydon – You’ve well and truly set the standard!