Taken from my piece written for the Bidford Big White pages 2014
Before Gareth Malone began his series “The Choir” beginning with the military wives, Amanda Oliver had a vision for Bidford. Following her own personal fight against breast cancer, Amanda set out to bring the community together in a new and unique way in 2009. Initially she staged a production of Joseph and his Technicolour Dreamcoat. The choir, then in its infancy, provided the chorus. However once that project was completed in January 2010, choir members wanted to build on the success and continue to meet as a Community Choir. Thus, the Bidford Area Community Choir was born. A committee was formed and the choir has continued to go from strength to strength.
With a range of backgrounds and experiences, the choir members each bring their own unique contributions. Some members are experienced singers having sung with the Alcester Ladies Choir and Tarantara for example. Others are complete novices with an interest in singing. There are no auditions but under Amanda’s expert tutelage (she herself spent four years studying at the Guildhall School of Music, London), everyone can take part. We are also lucky to have a professional musician as our accompanist – Simon Kemp who brings his own skills and expertise to the benefit of all. He has been a fantastic addition after Mary Roberts left to go to China.
Many individual members come along to meet up with their choir friends, but it is also very much a family experience. There are several husband and wife members and some whole families, from young children to grandparents. Children of choir members are also able to join the Children’s Choir and this is a fun singing experience for many who go on to join the full choir. Amanda’s talented husband Darren also provides tutoring to the male members of the choir and, smaller choral groups. In addition he steps in to help with accompanying and sings himself – as do her daughters.
The choir also actively nurtures young singers and musicians, providing encouragement, mentoring and performance opportunities. Their contribution greatly adds to the variety of music that can be shared with our audiences.
Singing a wide range of music from works written for stage and screen to pop medleys and ballads, there is something for everyone. The music is carefully chosen by Amanda, who remains our Musical Director despite a recent move. Happily, Amanda continues to travel back every week to lead rehearsals at Bidford Methodist Church in preparation for our two annual concerts in St. Laurence Church. In addition, the choir has also performed at Pershore Abbey, Middle Littleton Village Hall, Cleeve Prior Village Hall, St. Peter’s, Bengeworth and the Home Farm Trust in Bidford. With support from the Parish Council, the choir was able to buy its own keyboard to allow performances at local events too like the Bidford Christmas Lights switch on.
Choir members pay a concert subscription which pays for the very costly sheet music and the hire of rehearsal and performance venues. Members and supporters also generously provide raffle prizes and refreshments so that money raised at concerts is donated directly to local charities. The choir has been able to give donations to St. Laurence Church, The Church Hall, The Christmas Lights fund, Bidford Youth Club, Myton Hospice, Littleton Scouts and Cubs and most recently the new GP surgery and practice who were given £1000 at the last concert.