One of Yorkshire’s best-known community choirs is set to bow out in spectacular fashion this summer.
Rock Up and Sing! is giving a finale concert at Harrogate Convention Centre after choir director Rhiannon Gayle decided to step down.
- Rock Up and Sing! was founded by professional singer Rhiannon Gayle in 2009. Since then, it has grown to include five different ensembles offering a wide range of performances, from small charity events to huge concerts
- Through a wide range of events and performances, the choirs have raised more than £36,000 for a variety of charities and good causes
It follows a decade of achievement for Rhiannon and the choir members, featuring everything from performances at major sporting celebrations to concerts at leading international venues. The family of choirs – made up of four adult ensembles and one youth choir and including 400 members – has recorded three times at Abbey Road, performed on a new recording of On Ilkla Moor Baht ‘At with Brian Blessed and Lesley Garrett, sung for dignitaries when the Tour de France came to Yorkshire in 2014, and wowed sell-out crowds in Barcelona, Budapest, Prague and New York.
For Rhiannon, however, it is the benefit the individual choir members have had from being part of Rock Up and Sing! that will be her proudest achievement.
The last 10 years have been fantastic and I have thoroughly enjoyed all the performances we’ve given together.
The things that stand out in my mind, though, are when a choir member has taken something personal from their involvement. We’ve had plenty of people coming to join us who were going through stresses at home, including health worries, bereavements and relationship difficulties, as well as people who loved music but were really lacking in confidence.
Seeing them go from being the shy, nervous ones at their first rehearsals to being in the thick of it at our major concerts is just wonderful. Music is so powerful in bringing people together and improving their physical and mental health.
It’s exactly why I started Rock Up and Sing! and I’m so pleased it has touched so many people’s lives.
As well as the choirs’ many acclaimed performances, they have raised more than £36,000 for a range of charities and good causes. From the local branch of the National Autistic Society to Leeds-based St Gemma’s Hospice, many of their massed concerts have been in aid of organisations close to the hearts of choir members or their communities, something of which Rhiannon is extremely proud.
Now, with two teenagers rapidly heading towards major exams and university, former professional soprano Rhiannon has made the difficult decision to hang up her baton and close the choirs this summer.
It has been a very difficult decision to make.
Running the choirs has been so rewarding in many ways, but also incredibly time consuming, especially as the major concerts came around.
My family have been really supportive as I’ve given my time to extra rehearsals and planning, and now I feel it’s the right time to focus on them, as my children get ready for GCSEs and A levels and prepare to move on to the next stages of their lives.
Rock Up and Sing! will mark the end of its 10 years of success with two spectacular performances at Harrogate Convention Centre on Saturday, June 8. They will raise money for Jessie’s Fund a charity which uses music to help children with complex needs and serious illnesses.
Jessie’s Fund is a wonderful charity and its use of music to improve lives is inspirational. All the choir members are working very hard to ensure we give a fitting performance to raise as much money as we can.
I will miss the choirs enormously, but I hope the experiences we’ve had together will inspire the members to keep music in their lives from now on and to enjoy all the benefits that it can bring.
Tickets for Rock Up and Sing!’s Finale concert are available now from the Harrogate Theatre Box Office – www.harrogatetheatre.co.uk or 01423 502116.