Wednesday, 12 July 2017 23:38

Lion Opera Photos from Broadstairs

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:


Monday, 22 May 2017 22:05

All of Our Performers Were Great!

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

Dear all,

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:



Thursday, 18 May 2017 22:18

Lion Opera! Dress Rehearsal

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:


Monday, 15 May 2017 10:38

Lion Opera Trailer

Less than a week to go to the premiere and the choir is bustling with activity!

Here's a trailer for the opera, featuring music and rehearsal pictures. 


Saturday, 01 April 2017 12:04

Opera rehearsals have started

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.

Monday, 06 March 2017 17:28

One of Our Brothers is a Lion

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!

Fund raising

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.


Get in touch

We would love to hear from families who would like their children to join in the choirs and sing with a lively and non-competitive group of young people.
Contact us and arrange to come along there are no auditions, anyone aged 6 - 17 can join our choirs.

Tel: 0208 650 9164

Child Protection Policy

We in Beckenham Junior Choir are committed to a protection policy. Staff and volunteers in this organisation accept and recognise our responsibilities to develop awareness of the issues which cause children harm.

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Matchfunding for the choirs

BJC/BYV have an HMRC assimilated charitable status.
If you or a close relative, work for a company that offers matchfunding,
the choirs could benefit financially at no cost to yourself.
Please check this list of organisations to see the companies listed.