News, events and reviews
News of our latest concerts and other events like "bring-a-friend" evenings, and our Committee AGM
On 12 January, Beckenham Youth Voices and singing parents travelled to Rochester for an afternoon of music at Rochester Cathedral. BYV participated in the evensong as part of a choir led by John Webber.
John's message to BYV: Several members of Youth Voices had a great afternoon at Rochester Cathedral and gave their all. Complicated music which everyone handled to the best of their ability. We were all very proud of Sabrina, who sang difficult solo music with great determination and set a high standard.
Photos below courtesy of Ali Holder.
The second instalment of the lion opera was performed at the Penge Congregational Church, on 17 November. It was a lovely family performance, followed by drinks and cake. All the children performed beautifully, and it was a lovely evening. We are very fortunate that the composer, James Olsen, travelled down from Cambridgeshire to play the piano for the performance, with John Webber directing the choirs.
A big thank you to all the children, and all the volunteering parents who helped out with costumes, lighting, directing, baking and marketing. Without your help, these performances would not be possible.
Scroll down for the videos that James Olsen has published about the rehearsals for the Lion Opera, part 2.
Also, if anyone took pictures on the evening, we'd love to see them! Please email Kicki.
A few words from John:
James’s music grew on us and we loved his very personal sense of fun. I learned some Very Long Words from James’s script and I am sure that other people did, too! Thanks to him for his time and boundless energy.
On a clear and beautiful Wednesday evening in Penge, rehearsals are well under way for the sequel to last year’s hit production, One of Our Brothers is a Lion! by James Olsen. The sequel is called One of our Lions Is Missing!
This time, instead of bandits, the best friends Donkey and Lion encounter wild lions. There’s a kidnapping, and, of course, the best thing in the world (according to Lion): ham sandwiches. No opera is complete without ham sandwiches.
Don’t miss the one and only performance of this splendid production for all the family, this Saturday at 7 pm at the Penge Congregational Church.
As the end of term draws near, I’d like to say a heartfelt thanks for all the efforts you’ve put in to make our choirs such a success this year.
If you’re a singer, you’ve worked hard to learn your words or music, have performed at concerts, and made new choir members feel welcome.
If you’re a parent, carer or grandparent, you’ve supported us by ensuring your child is at rehearsals and concerts, knows their words, has their uniform. And many of you have offered your time on the Committee and /or organised rehearsals, put up posters, baked cakes ... even sung with our choirs!
So, a big ‘thank you’ from me!
This year Beckenham Junior Choir and Youth Voices have performed beautifully in Beckenham, Penge, Denmark Hill, East Dulwich, as well as at the Balgowan School fair, making us all very proud. We have welcomed many new members to both choirs, all of whom have worked hard to learn their words ready for the June concert. You all did really well.
Who would have thought that we would manage to arrange both our spring concerts on snowy days this year!
Rehearsals are well underway for this evening’s concerts at Holy Trinity on Lennard Road.
The light falling through the windows is spectacular and the choirs sound lovely. Come and listen this evening at 7 pm!
Beckenham Youth Voices kicked off the BJC & BYV 25th anniversary in style with an autumn concert at Beckenham Baptist Church in October. It was a fun and varied repertoire, with some great solos. It was lovely to see so many young talents accompany the choir on various instruments. The parents even queued up to sing along on two anthems - we're looking forward to hear more even from you at the carol singing at Sainsbury's on December 16th!
Here are some lovely photos from our resident photographer Nick Charles:
BJC and BYV did a guest appearance at the Christmas Fair at Balgowan Primary School today. It was a lovely afternoon and a wonderfully busy fair.
Looking forward to singing Christmas Carols at Sainsbury’s next!
A few words from Niamh:
Dear BJC and YV,
Thank you all so much for coming to Balgowan today. You sang beautifully and were a wonderful advert for our choirs.
Special thanks also to James and Jenny for their conducting and playing, to Nehara for her lovely accompanying, and Sabrina for her wonderful solo.
Keep up the good work, and see you all on Wednesday!
Happy Summer everyone!
Before the holidays start for real, we've got some exciting footage from the performance of One of Our Brothers is a Lion! in Broadstairs. As always, if you have any photos you'd like to share, please get in touch!
First out, James Olsen has published his latest vlog entry, a fabulous synopsis of the Lion! opera, showing footage from both the concerts. Scroll down to the bottom to see it.
We've also got some great new photos by our photographer in residence, Nick Charles:
And a couple we posted last week, by Kicki Frisch:
We had a wonderful concert in Broadstairs on July 1st! A terrific event again and everyone was fully involved. It was good to see our newest and youngest singers giving their “all”! There was some great acting and singing in James Olsen’s opera, “One of our brothers is a lion”. Thanks also to the parents who helped so much behind the scenes.
Once more the weather was typical of Broadstairs. It was especially good to have time on the beach afterwards, instead of rushing off.
We also had the chance to thank Elizabeth Beroud for her sterling leadership as Chair of the two Choirs over the last eight years, overseeing several important occasions, including marking 21 years of the Junior Choir in 2014.
A few words from web admin:
Don't forget that the annual picnic replaces rehearsals this week.
It's been a privilege to edit the web site this year. A big thank you and well done to everyone for a wonderful year 2016/2017! We're so proud of everyone who has made this year a great memory. The choirs live off the parent volunteers and member's fees, and you've all been wonderfully generous with your time and money this year, thank you so much. (In case anyone should be as forgetful as myself and hasn't paid the term fees yet - I hope it's only me - please contact Niamh.)
Scroll down for a few photos from the concert in Broadstairs. Nick's professional photos will appear on the web site at the end of the week, so stay tuned! If you have photos you'd like to share, as always please contact Kicki.
Photos from the performance in Broadstairs of One of Our Brothers is a Lion!
Copyright Kicki Frisch
We've got some great photos from the premier of One of Our Brothers is a Lion! on May 20th. As usual, Nick Charles very kindly volunteered his time and skill as a professional photographer to document the reception and performance. There are also a few photos from the rehearsal in the afternoon and performance by Kicki Frisch. We hope you enjoy the photos.
If anyone else has photos you'd like to share with us, plese drop Kicki a line. We'd particularly like to see the Instagram pictures that the bandits took!
The following photos are from the reception and after party, copyright Nick Charles:
The following photos are from the performance, copyright Nick Charles:
The following photos are from the rehearsals, and some from the performance, copyright Kicki Frisch:
The concert and premiere of One of Our Brothers Is a Lion! on Saturday was a great success! The church was packed full, and we've had so many lovely comments from the spectators. Well done everyone who worked so hard to make this a great performance. Thank you also to everyone who donated beautiful cakes to the cake sale afterwards - and to everyone who helped eat them! We raised a considerable amoutn of money for the choir, a huge thank you for your generosity.
Scroll down for some photos from the afternoon rehearsals. We have some beautiful photos of the performance on their way to the web site - in the meantime, if anyone has any photos they would like to share, please contact Kicki.
A Few Words From John
Beckenham Junior Choir and Beckenham Youth Voices gave a terrific concert on Saturday to an audience of two hundred, some of whom had travelled a long way.
In part one, we opened with “Sweet Gingerbread man”, by Michel Legrand. Both Choirs love this and it is one of their “signature tune” items nowadays! Then we had “Songs of London Town,” by Mervyn Burtch, using soloists and the full Choir, with some children reciting short poems on the theme of London. This music is not easy and the young people’s talents was a joy to watch.
Then five members of the Junior Choir sang solos from “When we were Very Young” (Music by H Fraser-Simson), using words which many of those present will have remembered from their childhoods. Finally in part one, we had “Take me up the Tyne”, by Eric Boswell (he of “Little Donkey” fame); this song is part of a collection of his “Songs of the North East”, which I dig out from time to time.
In part two, the Choirs made an excellent job of a newly written opera by James Olsen. James assisted with running the Junior Choir in its (and his) early days in the 1990s and has since risen to dizzy heights as a composer. The joint Choirs combined acting, speaking, movement and singing for this thirty-minute work, which combined several different types of music (plainsong, Mozart, rock ’n’ roll, J S Bach). The script showed James’s great sense of humour and of the ridiculous, with even references to “Dad’s Army”, as well as to various types of social media which (as you can imagine) pass me by!
We have so many soloists in our Choirs that I have deliberately not named anyone.
A special “thank you” to our expert voice coach, Stuart Kale, who is very popular with our Choirs and helps the singers to reach a high standard and encourages the newest members. The number of adults involved behind the scenes was greater than ever and I am hugely grateful to those who shared the tasks so efficiently.
We look forward to repeating the opera on Saturday, July 1st. at Holy Trinity, Broadstairs (with a different part one).
In the meantime, we have “Bring-a-Friend-to-Choir” day on Wednesday and it will be good to build up our quantity of younger singers, as Youth Voices is developing wonderfully.
Congratulations to you all!
A Few Words From James
Lovely email from Geoff Haskins below, my grandpa and one of our patrons. I’m thrilled he came. He’s now 90, but full of energy still.
"What an experience, James! The opera was so well received and everyone concerned must be congratulated for what must have been an enormous task: composing, rehearsing, logistics, infrastructure, catering, and all the rest of the minutiae that contributed to such a splendid event."
At the other end of the generational spectrum, my cousin Faye brought her husband and two girls, aged 6 and 8, and a mutual friend of ours also came with her two children of the same age. They all enjoyed it a lot, I gather. Serena Aylward, my successor as pianist to the BJC back in the 90s, brought her son Sebastian, who’s 4, and it was his first grown-up concert. He loved it and stayed throughout.
Just a few of the many positive things which I’ve heard came out of Saturday, and I’m sure there are lots I don’t know about. That, for me, is why music is more than just sound—it’s about an event, about bringing a community together, about people doing thing they never thought they could do, about opening up possibilities for young and old alike, which is why I think what we are creating together is so valuable. Thank you again so much, because without you my work would just be words and notes on paper.
Excited now for Broadstairs!
Cake decoration in progress!
Photos courtesy of Maya Channing:
Very last dress rehearsals, literally hours before the performance starts.
Photos courtesy of Kicki Frisch:
Only one more day to go to the premiere of One of Our Brothers is a Lion! Yesterday was dress rehearsal day, and nerves are beginning to show - sure it'll all be fine for tomorrow's performance though!
The very busy James Olsen, not only composer, but also pianist, vlogger and photographer, has already published a short but sweet video clip and some photos on his web site,
We've also got some pics by Donkey's mum, Kicki Frisch.
Enjoy - and don't forget to rehearse your lines for tomorrow!
Photos, copyright James Olsen:
Photos, copyright Kicki Frisch:
Rehearsals and planning for the premiere of One of Our Brothers is a Lion! are well under way, and the evening promises to be great. The monk's outfits are ready for their first fitting this evening, and the lion mask has got its mane.
If you'd like to help us promote the evening, e.g. by handing out flyers to friends, hang posters at school, local shops and cafes, or promote it on social media, you can find a printable poster here.
Also check out James Olsen's latest vlog, featuring a couple of clips from the rehearsals last week!
Welcome back to the summer term at BJC/BYV. Here's a short update on what is going on:
Opera: One of Our Brothers is a Lion!
We are close to havng raised the total funds for our very own commissioned opera. We'd like to say a huge Thank You to everyone - individuals and businesses - for their support with this project. If you'd like to donate, there's still time to raise those last pounds to reach our target. Please contact Niamh for more details.
Bring a Friend to Choir
It's time for the Bring a Friend to Choir rehearsal! You are invited to bring a friend to the reherasal on Wednesday May 24th for a free taster session. On this date we will take a break from our usual songs so that everyone can join in. It's usually a well appreciated event, so do ask your friends if they'd like to come along.
Fees are now due for the summer term. We appreciate payment by bank transfer or cheque. Please contact Niamh if you require a fee slip, which includes details of fees and how to pay. We also appreciate if you fill out the Gift Aid form for donations, if you haven't done so already.
A big thank you to parents who helped out at rehearsals in the spring time, and to those who have so far volunteered to cover this term. We rely on parent support during rehearsals to ensure they run smoothly and so that John can focus on leading the rehearsals. It's also a lovely way to gain insight into all the hard work the children and John put in and how concerts come together. There are still plenty of spaces open, so please let Niamh know if there is a Wednesday you can help out.
Please check the events diary for important dates.
Grace has set up a new Instagram account for BJC & BYV.
Make sure to follow and like us here: https://www.instagram.com/beckenhamjunior/
You can tell when musicians have worked together for some time - and with Beckenham Youth Voices it sounds and looks like a group of friends working happily together. We had a typically varied concert in St. George's Church on thr morning of April 1st: music from “South Pacific”, folks songs, pop songs from the 1960s and 1970s, a number from “H M S Pinafore”.
There was also a stunning performance of Bach on the ’cello from Anna. Miriam accompanied one song on the flute and we had a solo song from Salvador (a new member to the Choir this season) and a trio singing in the Gilbert and Sullivan piece. There was a consistently high standard of performance and an appreciative audience. At this concert we were able to promote the James Olsen’s opera, including lion-looking cakes to eat and a selection of masks to see. The Church kindly gave us a donation of £30 (gift aided!), even though they had invited us.
Yvonne Adebola, former BYV member and now aged 24 and living in Barnehurst, especially wanted to return to sing an item. It is rewarding to see how one-time singers with us have moved on so well in their lives. Oliver and Joe, also former members, came to hear the concert.
You can see some photographs by Nick Charles here - remember to enter your password - ask us if you need it as we don't send it out by the website!
Well done to Youth Voices - you are going from strength to strength!
Chloe has set up an Instagram account for BJC & BYV photos. Follow the account, and see photos and videos from the concert here: https://www.instagram.com/beckenhamjunior/
Rehearsals for our opera One of our Brothers is a Lion! have started. The composer James Olsen has put together a video of the first rehearsals which is available on YouTube.
The spring edition of our twice-yearly newsletter, Singalong, is now out. Please read it here.
Singalong is also distributed as a paper version to our choir members and Friends of the Choirs. If you would like to become a Friend of the Choirs, or subscribe to the paper version, please contact John.
Message to Beckenham Junior Choir families:
Next term we start back on April 19th. (not the week after, as we may have said at one point). The opera is progressing well and it is all very exciting!
Please remember to
Have a good holiday!
On Saturday 11 March, Beckenham Junior Choir descended on the church of St. Michael and All Angels in Penge to start of the concert season of 2017. It was a lovely, much appreciated tribute to Spring by the children.
The composer James Olsen talked a little about our upcoming opera, One of our Brothers is a Lion, and showed off the beautiful lion and donkey masks for the opera created by our talented parent, Michaela.
Michaela has asked for scrap materials to create the lion mane with and to make it a personal mask with contributions from everyone in the choir - so if you have any remnants of materials, ribbons, etc. in orange, yellows or browns that can be used for a lion's mane, please bring them along to choir practice!
Jenny raised much-appreciated additional funds for the opera through her cupcake sales, so a big thank you to everyone who contributed by baking or eating cake!
If you have pictures from the concert that can go on the web site, please contact me.
Our next concert is on April 1st, when BYV return to St. George's Church on Beckenham High Street for a morning of song and music.
If you have the possibility, we would much appreciate if you could print out a few posters and hang e.g. in your local shop, cafe or school. Please click on the image below for a printable version of the poster.
We have some exciting news!
BJC and BYV are about to sing in an opera entitled One of our Brothers is a Lion! that is being written especially for them.
Composer and former BJC pianist, James Olsen is writing an children’s opera for BJC/BYV to be premiered at our concert on Saturday 20th May. The story is based on the medieval legend(from the Legenda Aurae by Voragine) of Saint Jerome who removes a thorn from a lion’s paw; the lion becomes his companion and makes a home inthe monastery, only then to get into trouble when the brothers think he has eaten the monastery’s donkey…
And... we need your help to make this amazing opportunity for our children happen!
We need to raise a total of £5,500 to cover the opera commission and staging expenses. Although timescales are short, we believe that this is such an amazing opportunity that between us all we can do it! Thanks to the generosity of our friends and supporters, we have already exceeded our initial goal of raising £2,000 by the end of February!
Please contact us if you would like to contribute, or if you have any fundraising ideas.
For more information, see the brochure containing all the information about the project.
Save the dates
- Saturday, May 20: first performance of the opera for BJC and BYV (please note that this is a new date for BYV).
- Saturday, July 1: second performance in Broadstairs.
A concert to celebrate the history of Clock House on May 7th 2016, performed by BJC and BYV
Among the 100-strong audience at this celebratory concert were Mary Blyton and guest composer Gary Higginson, a student of Carey Blyton. The concert premiered a piano piece "Inventions on a theme of Carey Blyton" by Gary - played by John Webber. The choirs sang a wide range of music from David Bowie's "Starman" and the Carpenters' "Top of the world" to the James Horner theme for the film "Titanic." Both choirs (and some parents) sang "A La Cart," a tribute to Mozart's inventive music.
Here are some words by Cliff Watkins - originator of the Clock House festival and enthusiastic promotor of local Beckenham history.
Cliff Watkins - Historian and Local co-organiser of the Clock House Festival 2016
The concert raised over £260 for the restoration fund for the organ at the Beckenham Baptist Church at Elm Road in a retiring collection, and we are continually grateful for the support we receive from the Rev. Neil Drasey and the Church community in staging our concert here and the weekly practice in the room where Enid Blyton attended Sunday school as a young child living in Beckenham!
There are some photographs taken by Nick Charles to see here - enter your password when on the gallery page, If you need a password please contact Niamh here.
Spring concert March 19th, performed by BJC and BYV
And it was a fantastic concert too.
We had excellent solos, well-prepared group singing, fabulous musicians and it was lovely to have Yvonne back with us to perform (along with Fernando on the piano).
Thank you to Amanda Glynn for her work behind the scenes getting the concert organised, to Ant for fetching, carrying and setting up the sound system, and to all the other parents that helped out in various ways. We couldn't have done it without you."
There are some photographs taken by Mary Davies to see here ( please enter your choir password on the Photobox album page.)
Father's Day celebration of Bowie's Bandstand - a summer concert performed by BJC and BYV
The weather stayed dry and the songs kept coming!
Forty choir children aged 6 to 16 from Beckenham Junior Choir (BJC) and Beckenham Youth Voices (BYV) entertained over 200 people at the Croydon Road Recreation Ground in Beckenham on Sunday 19th June. We gave a free open air concert and the choirs sang a medley of songs with huge enthusiasm, including ‘Mums and Dads’ by Lionel Bart from the 1962 musical Blitz chosen specially for Father’s Day.
The elegant late Victorian bandstand has a long tradition of hosting singers, although sadly its state of disrepair means that its time may soon be up. Perhaps the most famous of the bandstand’s artists was David Bowie who performed there in 1969 at the Beckenham Arts Lab Growth Summer Festival. The Beckenham-based pop star also wrote his top hit Life of Mars on the steps of the bandstand. Fittingly Beckenham Youth Voices gave an inspiring rendition of Bowie’s song Starman, which they were asked to sing again as an encore to close the concert.
A fan of the bandstand in Croydon Road Recreation Ground, Roger Bahari, who has started a facebook page entitled Beckenham Bowie, attended the concert with his family. He commented afterwards:
There are some lovely photographs taken on the day to see here from Ali Holder
The Bowie Bandstand restoration appeal
aims to raise much needed funds for the repair of this important community musical venue.
A fundraising concert Bowie's Beckenham Oddity will take place on August 13th.
Tickets can be purchased here: wegottickets.com/event/363779.
There is a bandstand donation page online bromley.gov.uk/info/200073/
Thanks to the Friends of Croydon Road Recreation Ground for hosting us and for the seating for our audience!
Sketch of the concert by Emiline Beroud
Photograph by Cliff Watkins
On Saturday 2nd July, the church of St. Michael and All Angels in Sydenham hosted Beckenham Junior Choir;the junior choir of St. John's East Dulwich; Beckenham Youth Voices and some choir parents - in a varied programme of singing and instrumentals. (The adults were quite well-behaved!)
This from John Webber:
This is the end of a term in which the Junior Choir has gained eight new members. We look forward to a much needed holiday period and the chance to start back in September with the songs still ringing in our ears!
Best wishes for the Summer holidays ahead and new members are welcome to join us in September"
Our final BJC/YV meeting of the academic year will be this Wednesday, July 6th, when we meet for a picnic at Croydon Road Recreation ground (near the bandstand) from 6pm. Please bring food and a picnic blanket. If the weather looks bad I will send out an email late afternoon with possible alternative arrangements.
If you have not already handed in your named folder, please bring it on Wednesday and hand to John.
Also, if anyone has photos from Saturday's concert that they would be happy to share on our website (password protected) please let me know.
Choir resumes on Wednesday September 14th , 6.00pm for BJC and 7.20pm for BYV.
There will be details of autumn/winter concert dates shortly before the new term resumes.
BJC parents, if you have not already added your names to our Doodle rota for September, please do so ASAP. Let me know if you need the link again. I will be sending out the final dates next week.
Many thanks, and have a glorious summer.
Oh, and one final request from John: