Singers from one of Yorkshire’s leading community choirs have been reflecting on their experiences as the finale concert approaches.
Rock Up and Sing!, which has five ensembles with 400 members across Harrogate and Skipton, is closing its doors this summer when director Rhiannon Gayle moves on to new projects.
With a spectacular finale planned for Saturday, 8 June 2019 at Harrogate Convention Centre, the choir members have been sharing their thoughts about the end of 10 years together.
Christine Loftus joined Rock Up at the beginning of 2010 after losing her husband to cancer in December 2009:
Walking into that first rehearsal on my own was one of the hardest things I have ever done but it was the start of a wonderful journey that I have never regretted.
The choir helped me to rebuild my life and has given me and my daughter so many happy memories.
She was 13 when her dad died and went on to join the youth choir and one of the most memorable things we have ever done was singing together with the choir in New York – an experience that money could not buy!
Lauren is now in the adult choir and we have now also recorded together at Abbey Road. It is with great pride that we will stand side by side on stage in the finale concert.
Joining the choirs at a time when life was tough is something many of the members have had in common. The mutual support offered has been one of the most important aspects of their experiences.
Eileen Cox added:
My husband died unexpectedly in October 2015, and by the New Year I knew that I needed to start doing something which had no association with him.
A friend who was in Rock Up and Sing! at the time brought me along to a taster session, and although I found it rather daunting for quite a while it proved to be enormously important to me. I’ve made new friends, enjoyed socialising, loved touring – and had a blast singing great music.
The finale concert at Harrogate Convention Centre will be a joyful end to 10 years of music. The choirs will perform some of their favourite tracks from that time, accompanied by the live band they have been working with throughout.
Rhiannon will bring her trademark energy to the show and has spent months helping the choirs to perfect their harmonies and polish their performances.
With their finale concerts now just days away, the choir members are reflecting on the experiences they’ve had together over the last decade.
Mary Clewes said:
I have been so lucky to go on three of the trips away, which have all been amazing experiences, particularly singing in the Rudolfinum in Prague and recording in Abbey Road. I will miss being on stage with all the other choirs and I’ll miss the parties and trips but I’m so thankful for the last eight years, I have loved every single second of it.
Wendy England said joining the choir had rekindled a life-long love of music and performing:
I must admit I shed a tear when I heard this was finishing, but nothing can now put out the fire that was re-lit, and the friendships I have made at a time I was so low mean the world to me.
Sally Brown echoed her comments, saying: “You become part of special family and I’ve made lots of new friends. I’m so looking forward to our final concert albeit with a tinge of sadness that this wonderful chapter is coming to a close.
As well as their own experiences, the choirs have supported others by using their performances to raise money for good causes close to their hearts. This time, they will be supporting Jessie’s Fund, which uses music to help children with complex needs and serious illnesses – a fitting charity for their final concert.
With so many wonderful memories, the choir members will of course be feeling emotional when they take to the stage together for the final time.
Yvonne Lulmley said:
Like many others, I went on my own and have since made many great friends. Recording at Abbey Road on two occasions has been one of my proudest experiences. I will definitely have a tissue up my sleeve next Saturday!
Sharon Pinder added:
Rock Up has become a part of my life and will leave a huge gap. But I’ll always have the memories of fun, hard work, concert performances, and Abbey Road – and most of all the lasting friendships and being a small part of something big and beautiful.
Thank you Rhiannon for your creativity, motivation and scolding – you pushed us to achieve things we really didn’t know we could.
Although Rock Up and Sing! will not be continuing after the summer, choir members will be taking their love of music on to new adventures – and encouraging others to do the same.
Sally Owbridge-Kestell said:
I have made some wonderful friends through Rock Up – every week for a couple of hours it lets you escape everything else that’s going on around you in your busy lives.
I was gutted to hear that this was going to be our last concert together but at the same time excited and I hope to give it justice.
I have enjoyed being part of this choir so much I can’t put it into words. I would highly recommend it to anyone: if you can hold a note then join a community choir – you won’t look back.
Tickets are still available for Rock Up and Sing!’s last ever performances at 2pm and 7.30pm on Saturday, 8 June 2019.
Visit https://www.harrogatetheatre.co.uk/whats-on/Rock-Up-and-Sing-Finale to book or call 01423 502116.