What you need to become a member
There are no formal auditions, but we expect you to be willing to commit to regular weekly rehearsals and be prepared to do some practice at home. You do not need to have been in a choir before, or to sight read, but you do need to be able to follow and understand the music.
Under the Members header you will find links to internet resources to help you to learn your part at home.
Remember to bring a pencil with you to rehearsals for making notes in the music.
At some point you will have an informal voice test with our Musical Director, Tom Newall, just to check that you are singing the right part for your voice range.
Rehearsal venue and times
Rehearsals are held on Monday evenings between 7.15 pm and 9.15 pm in The Performing Arts Building, St Mary’s College, Shear Brow, Blackburn, BB1 8DX.
After the rehearsal, several of us adjourn to a local pub, usually the Royal Oak, Pleckgate, but check with your voice rep. in case there’s been a change of plan.
You’re very welcome to join us.
What happens at your first rehearsal
You are welcome to attend rehearsals for two or three weeks before deciding whether or not you want to join us. At your first rehearsal you will be asked to complete a contact details form. If you decide to become a member, this information will be added to our data base. It will only be used for communication within the society.
You will also be given a copy of the music we are currently preparing. If you decide to join the choir, there is usually a small charge for the loan of music to cover the cost of hiring it.
You will be introduced to your voice rep. who will be able to answer any questions you might have. If you decide to become a member, your voice rep. will introduce you to our Chairman, Joy Fielding, and our Musical Director, Tom Newall.
The cost of being a member
Our annual subscription is £60, payable at the beginning of the season.
If you are in a position to do so, signing a Gift Aid form will enable us to claim tax back on subscriptions.
If you are aged 25 or under on 1st September, your membership is free.
In addition to the subscription, there is also a small charge for borrowing the music, for your choir folder for concerts (£5) and, if you are female, for the flower the women wear as part of their uniform (£3).
For the annual Messiah concert, if you wish to use your own score, it needs to be the New Novello Choral Edition edited by Watkins Shaw.
As we are keen to be as inclusive as possible, we aim to keep our subscription relatively low compared to many other choirs. Therefore, in order to put on an ambitious programme of concerts, we also engage in various fund-raising enterprises, including a weekly optional donation of a pound.
If you would like to participate in these activities, it would be much appreciated. We also hope that our members will be active in promoting our concerts and selling tickets.
Our annual schedule
Rehearsals for each season start at the beginning of September and end in June after our summer concert.
We usually do four main concerts a year, one each in the autumn, spring and summer plus the Messiah in December. Venues vary, but we often use Blackburn cathedral. Smaller events during the year include The East Lancashire Hospice Light up a Life service, carol singing and the Royal Society of St George’s annual service in April. We also organise a day workshop each year, which focuses on preparing for one of our concerts.
What happens on main concert days
Our main concerts take place on a Saturday. You will be notified well in advance of rehearsal times on performance days. It’s usually in the afternoon with time to eat and get changed before the concert starts.
For concerts in Blackburn cathedral, we can use the crypt for eating food we’ve brought with us and there is a place to get changed in. Alternatively the Postal Order pub, next door, serves reasonably priced meals.
There is parking close by the Cathedral.See this map.
What we wear at concerts
For our main concerts, the women usually wear black dress trousers or calf-length/ long black skirts, black tops with decorous neckline, three-quarter or long sleeves and a pink flower (supplied), worn on the left. Black tights and black shoes. And if you like, by all means wear a bit of glitz!
The men wear a black dinner suit with a white shirt and black bow tie. Black socks and shoes.
On some occasions concert dress varies and details of this are announced before the event.
How you will know what’s going on
From time to time, members of the Committee will want to send you information e.g. about upcoming events and we usually use email for this. If you don’t have an email address you may be able to provide the address of a friend or relative who will pass on the information to you. Alternatively another choir member will usually keep you in touch.
There is an annual dinner shortly after the summer concert and other social events from time to time. You will be given details of these as and when they are arranged.
And that’s it! We hope that you will enjoy making music with us.