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Help put the sing in Gras-sing-ton

[Friday 9 April 2010]

Black Voices

Calling all singers! No experience required. Come and perform with one of the UK’s top a cappella vocal groups - Black Voices - at the Grassington festival this June.

First, here’s a little secret - singing is good for you. "If we could engage more and more people in singing, I'm sure we would have a healthier nation” says Professor Grenville Hancox, director of the Sidney de Haan Research Centre for Arts and Health in Kent. He has even been working to persuade the medical profession to prescribe singing instead of Prozac. As Japanese Professor Takeshi Tanigawa of Ehime University Graduate School of Medicine explains "Singers use deep breathing, which is good for the nervous system. After singing, people usually receive applause. It is a good kind of social support, and helps in the face of adverse occasions or stressful events."

So, following hot on the heels of television series such as The Choir and Glee, the Festival has decided the people of Craven should have the chance to take part in a community choral project. Sure, many of us were put off singing following tuneless experiences as kids. “My husband was one of those who was told to mime in school concerts, he’s never been confident singing since then” said one anonymous festival committee member, ”but actually he’s quite good, when he thinks no-one is listening”. Carol Pemberton, the musical director of Black Voices, agrees. She knows that singing is something everyone can enjoy and will welcome everyone who would like to take part. She’s not bothered whether they have sung in choirs before, or just belted out their favourite hits in the shower (be honest, we’ve all done it!).

So who are Black Voices? They performed at the Festival three years ago and went down a storm, “Their sound and harmonies are just beautiful. And as people they are truly inspirational too” commented Festival director Amelia Vyvyan, “I was delighted when they agreed to take on this project. They ran a short workshop the last time they visited. They had us sounding excellent after just one hour”.

This year we want to ensure the choir will be really representative of the community - from teens upwards. The festival committee is particularly keen to get some men involved! After all, we know that at rugby and football clubs all over the country men are happy to sing, especially after a few drinks. So why do those same performers shy away from formal singing groups? This is their chance to get involved and see what they can do without alcoholic assistance. With a bit of luck the result will be even better. And they are in good company - Olympians such as Daley Thompson and Roger Black joined the singing craze for Sport Relief and thoroughly enjoyed it.

Rehearsals start on 20th April at Grassington Town Hall and will take place every Tuesday from 7pm to 9pm until the performance on Sunday June 13th. Please don’t be shy – if you would like to find out more please call 0771 847 8118 or email boxoffice@grassington-festival.org.uk. Still unsure? Well, as a final incentive, the project is being subsidised by the Festival. That means you get all the fun plus the health benefits for free!

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