36 | Of interest

Behind the Scenesatthe MILITARYWIVES CHOIRS

The Military Wives Choirs is acharity founded in 2012, now made up of anetwork of over 70 choirs based both in the UK and abroad, which aims to bring women in the military community closer together through singing.

Our Regional Armed Forces Covenant Manager for Wales & the West Midlands, Jen Brooksbank, is amember of Valley MWC and recently took part in aworkshop and recording session for the Military Wives Choirs’ forthcoming World War 1commemoration album. She tells us all about the experience:

On asnowy weekend in Birmingham, Ijoined together with over 100 members of eight Military Wives Choirs from across the central region to take part in awonderful weekend of music, at the ‘Sing, Share, Support’ workshop and recording of the forthcoming Military Wives Choirs’ World War1commemoration album.

This was one of seven regional workshops for the network of 74 choirs funded by amuch appreciated grant from the Libor Fund, which enabled every member of achoir to have the chance to attend this unique opportunity and learn all about the ins and outs of singing.

“the Military Wives Choirs has given me a network of friends around the country who understand the experiences that military life can throw up”

As amember of Valley MWC, based on Anglesey,itwas a fantastic opportunity to be able to sing with other choirs

‘SING, SHARE,SUPPORT’ workshop and album recording

from across the network and catch up with friends that I have made during my five years as part of the charity.

The workshop was led by the fabulous Dominic Ellis-Peckham, renowned conductor and choir director who coaches groups in the art of singing all over the world. It was areal treat to have such an inspiring and enthusiastic coach who got us all moving straight away with an energetic warm up. Dominic taught us all about the science behind singing and had us performing afolk song and African traditional music in perfect harmony within avery short time!

We were also lucky enough to have asession with renowned composer,arranger and pianist Peter Foggitt, who taught us the basics of blending sound and arranging music, which was something completely new for many of us. By the end of this part of the day,wewere all left feeling alot more confident in ourselves and our ability as well as feeling thoroughly enthused by the whole event.

But that wasn’t the end of this wonderful weekend of music! We then went on to rehearse the three songs which we would be recording for the new album the following day with one of Britain’s leading conductors, Hilary Davan Wetton.

Our new album is based around Remembrance and commemoration of the 100 year anniversary of the end of the First World War. As anetwork of choirs made up of women in the military community,wewanted to acknowledge this poignant occasion through aspecial project, telling the stories of the women who worked tirelessly on the home front, despite the loss of their husbands, sons, fathers and brothers. This album will include four brand new songs specially written for us, together with songs from the World WarOne era through to the present day,combined with orchestration from world-class military musicians in all three services.

Our recording session took place in the beautiful Elgar Hall at Birmingham University and was an amazing experience for everyone, from those ladies who had taken part in the previous albums to those, like me, for whom it was our first experience ‘in the studio’.

One of the pieces we recorded, which is to be sung by every choir in the network was the original composition ‘WeWill Remember Them’, abeautiful song written and composed by Joanna and Alexander L’Estrange, which includes the words of choir members on what Remembrance means to us.

After an intense morning’s work perfecting and recording each piece, with Hilary ensuring we were the best that we could be, it was extremely emotional to listen back to the recording of this song

ENVOY |Spring 2018 ||w | Spring

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