Northants Sings Out choir will finally reunite onstage with more than 100 singers after 'traumatic' 18 months
The coronavirus pandemic forced the community choirs into a lengthy hiatus and members went from performing on stage to belting out songs in their own homes over Zoom
The Northants Sings Out (NSO) Choir will be taking to the stage at Northampton' s Royal & Derngate theatre after months of being apart due to Covid-19.
The NSO Choir, comprised of nine community choirs across Northamptonshire, will finally be reunited in person with a powerful performance on November 27 after the coronavirus pandemic gave them no choice but to practice over Zoom for many months.
Spokeswoman for NSO, Katharine Ellis, said: "There will be more than 100 singers from the NSO choir on stage, with some brave and talented singers taking on solo parts, with the aim to lift the spirits of our audience, bring the party and share the joy we feel when we sing together. It promises to be a fantastic night, with something for everyone."
The NSO Choir was created more than 10 years ago by husband and wife duo Gareth Fuller and Sherina White-Fuller to create a vocal family regardless of experience or ability, to help build people’s confidence in a way that would positively impact them in all aspects of their lives.
The doors to that first choir were wide open – whether you were looking for somewhere to sing, somewhere to learn, somewhere to grow or just somewhere to belong, Gareth
welcomed everyone with an open heart and a desire to get the best out of every individual, regardless of their belief in themselves.
Katharine added: "These values remain at the heart of the NSO family today, and while we grow in numbers and ambition our hearts are rooted in creating a family that sings together and supports each other."
The last 18 months proved to be a challenge for the NSO Choir as the coronavirus pandemic forced them into a lengthy hiatus and the community choirs went from performing on stage to belting out songs in their own homes.
Talking about how the NSO Choir coped over the last challenging year and a half, Katharine said: "During the last 18 months, we have all been through a traumatic time but that support for each other has only strengthened.
"The arts in particular have struggled but Gareth soon found a way for us all to stay together, keep singing and learning and most importantly stay connected with the power of Zoom. So we all started singing loudly in our kitchens, bedrooms, garages and home offices all to the amusement of our spouses, children and pets.
"However for many, that hour a week away from the stresses of working, not working, families on top of each other, single people alone, and the world in general was a lifeline, an escape and a moment of light relief that we all needed more than we knew."
One of the community choirs making up the NSO Choir, called 'One Voice', was launched in April 2019 by founder Nicki Eames-Barton for local foster carers and adoptive parents to provide them with a source of wellbeing, support, networking and friendship.
Nicki, on her inspiration for founding the One Voice choir, said: "Hearing the journeys foster carers and adopters had been on, their commitment to the children they welcomed into their homes, was incredibly moving.
"At times the children themselves attended panel for long term fostering approvals and seeing the very real joy at having secured a safe, nurturing and loving home was a wonderful thing to witness.
"I also however heard about the isolation some carers felt and that whilst the authority and the Foster Carers Association provided support, there was still room for something more.”
The NSO Choir first performed as a collective in November 2019 at the Royal & Derngate, with many of its members taking a huge leap in confidence and performing for the very first time.
Their 2020 performance, unfortunately, had to be cancelled due to the pandemic but Gareth refused to let this deter him and produced a virtual event by getting all of the choir's members to perform at home using their phones and then editing the videos together to create one heart-stopping performance.
Katharine, reflecting on the virtual event, said: "This was a massive undertaking for Gareth but he believed in keeping the NSO together as a family and community and it certainly brought laughter, joy, pride and most importantly music into the homes of the NSO family through lockdown and beyond.
"So now we are back together again, we are still conducting some sessions via zoom for those who are nervous, and for those who feel more confident we are back rehearsing like mad for our performance, our return to the stage at the Royal and Derngate on November 27."
One Voice Choir have donated 40 tickets to foster families and children in care and tickets have been selling fast but there are some available. Purchase tickets online by visiting www.royalandderngate.co.uk.