fabulous singing day in Kenilworth
Monday 25 May 2015
Before I moved to Suffolk in 2010 I used to live in Coventry. Once a year I make a pilgrimage to my old stomping ground and run a singing day in Kenilworth at the end of May each year. I usually manage to get around 40 keen singers and we have a great time learning songs together and sharing lunch.
This year (Saturday 23 May) there were over 40 singers and I taught six songs: Russian, Tanzanian, gospel, soul, English and Zimbabwean. Here is one of the songs we learnt. It's supposedly a traditional gospel song, but I haven't been able to track down a source. As with pretty much all of my singing workshops, everyone was welcome regardless of experience. I'd love to know what you think of our effort, but I reckon it's not bad for a bunch of strangers in less than an hour!
two new weekend venues for 2016
Thursday 21 May 2015
After an exhaustive search of the Chiltern Hills and the whole of Cambridgeshire, we are pleased to announce two new venues for Chris's residential singing weekends in 2016.
First up is Felden Lodge in the Chilterns. Just a stone's throw from Hemel Hempstead railway station, this large house is set in 32 acres of peaceful grounds and is near some beautiful countryside. All bedrooms are en suite and there is a newly refurbished relaxing lounge area and conservatory style dining room. Singing for all – a weekend in harmony will be the first singing weekend here and will take place on 22-24 April 2016.
The second venue is the Holiday Inn just outside Peterborough. This is a venue of a very high standard which not only has superb accommodation, but you can use all their leisure facilities (swimming pool, sauna, steam room) at no extra cost, plus just over the road are scenic walks along the Nene Valley in the Ferry Meadows Country Park. Harmony singing weekend will be the first singing weekend here and will take place on 3-5 June 2016.
Full details of both weekends will be on the website soon.
summer singing safari sets off from ipswich
Tuesday 12 May 2015
It's that time of year again when the annual summer Singing Safari sets off from Ipswich on an imaginary journey to collect songs from all over the world. This year we are honoured to be performing at the Grand Opening Event of the newly refurbished Holywells Park on Saturday 18 July.
The Singing Safari sets off on its six-week journey from Ipswich on Tuesday 9 June. Do come and join us on our singing adventure! No experience necessary, just a love of singing.
rain didn't stop play – hooray!
Tuesday 15 July 2014
This summer's Singing Safari took place in Holywells Park, Ipswich. It was one of the best so far with over 50 enthusiastic singers who lapped up the chosen songs in record time.
As the day approached (Sunday 13 July) the weather looked worse and worse with thunderstorms and heavy rain forecast all afternoon. There were also several other events in Ipswich scheduled at the same time so we weren't expecting a huge audience.
On our way to the park to rehearse the heavens opened and there was local flooding on some of the roads. But as we gathered just before 1pm the rain stopped and we rehearsed in the dry. Even better: at 2pm when we started to perform the sun came out! We played a blinding set to well over 60 audience members who also joined in with a South African song at the end. Then, after our final encore and after over two and a half hours of nice weather, the heavens opened again and it absolutely poured down! They say the sun shines on the righteous, but alson on singers who bring joy and smiles.
If you fancy getting involved in a future Singing Safari (they happen each winter and summer), then make sure you're on Chris's mailing list to be kept informed.
singing safari a resounding success
Tuesday 4 March 2014
Once again the Singing Safari exceeded all my expectations. We managed a choir of 44 singers (a handful were absent due to illness) who learnt NINE songs over six two-hour sessions. No auditions, no sheet music, and most of them in 'foreign'. Not only did they achieve that, but they sang the songs wonderfully to an over-full house (there were more audience members than seats!) at St. Peter's by the Waterfron, Ipswich. It was St. David's Day so I managed to sneak in a Welsh song! And, of course, we managed to persuade the audience to join us in the end to sing a three-part song from South Africa. Everyone can sing!
If you're interested in taking part in the summer Singing Safari, it starts the first week in June and runs for six Tuesday evenings ending in a performance in Holywells Park, Ipswich on Sunday 13 July. Make sure you're on the mailing list to be kept informed.
gospel singing weekend was great!
Tuesday 26 November 2013
Back from a fabulous weekend in sunny Derbyshire where I managed to teach six full songs to an eager bunch of 33 singers.
The only thing is ... I forgot to press 'Record' when it came to recording our final run through of the songs on Sunday morning. Doh! Fortunately I did manage to capture one song so you can hear how good we sounded.
The song is called 'O sing to me of heaven' and it's in the genre known as 'Appalachian tear-jerker'! Click to listen on SoundCloud. Enjoy.
If you love gospel and missed this weekend, I'm doing a gospel singing day in Letchworth on Saturday 15 March.
find out more about me
Wednesday 6 November 2013
As well as my recent 'Meet the Maestro' interview (see below), I've added a few more links on the About page including a short documentary about the Pink Singers' 30th Annivesary event where I ran a Singing Safari workshop and performance: Hand in Hand Festival documentary, and an interview for the LeisureCourses.net website: Course Talk – meet singing tutor Chris Rowbury
interview with 'the maestro'
Thursday 31 October 2013
I've never actually been called a 'Maestro' before, but I quite like the idea! I've just been interviewed for the Total Choir Resources website in their ongoing series Meet the Maestro series. Check it out and see what you think. You can always leave a comment!
amazing ABBA weekend!
Monday 30 September 2013
Check out what we did on my recent ABBA weekend at
Farncombe Courses in the Cotswolds:
Not bad for a bunch of strangers in just two days (even if I do say so myself!).
If like this kind of thing, I'll be running a weekend at Farncombe in October 2014 called Sing the best of the Bee Gees. It's never to early to book and, who knows, there might even be some Early Bird discounts around!
new song arrangements now available
Thursday 22 August 2013
After many hours spent slaving away at computer code, I am pleased to announce a fancy new redesigned page on the website where you can find many of my song arragements for sale.
I have just doubled the catalogue to almost 70 songs! All have been tried and tested on community choirs and the majority are in unaccompanied harmony. Why not drop by and check it out and let me know what you think (or even better: order some songs!).
singing safari excels at Tattingstone Place
Monday 17 June 2013
Despite the occasional ominous cloud, nearly 40 erstwhile singers gathered at Tattingstone Place on Sunday 16 June to share the eight songs they had learnt in this summer's Singing Safari project, based in Ipswich. A goodly crowd gathered, the sun shone, the gardens bloomed, the singing was fantastic and the cream teas superb. What better way to round off this summer's project??!!
Check out this video made by one of the singers' sons:
better harmony singing weekend announced for 2014
Monday 13 May 2013
For those of you who missed the boat this year (my Better Harmony Singing weekend sold out very fast!), I've just fixed dates for next year at the same venue in Cambridgeshire: 2 – 4 May 2014, Claret Centre, Buckden, near St. Neots.
This weekend will be strictly limited to 16 singers and is for those who want the challenge of improving their small group harmony singing skills. It is for those with singing experience who can hold a harmony part on their own.
More details here: Better harmony singing – the small group challenge.
spring concert raises £550 for WaterAid
Monday 22 April 2013
The OK Chorale raised £550 for the charity WaterAid at their annual spring concert. This money will help fund the Afram Plains project bringing clean water, sanitation and hygiene promotion to families in the Kwahu North District, Ghana.
Big thanks for all of you who came to the concert and to those who put their small change into the WaterAid bucket!
the ok chorale's 'spring' concert in the snow!
Tuesday 26 March 2013
The OK Chorale's annual spring concert was this year in St. Mary's church, Woodbridge. Last Saturday almost 200 hardy souls braved the blizzards and freezing temperatures to come and listen to us sing. Not only was it our best concert so far, but we managed to raise in excess of £500 for WaterAid.
If you were one of the unfortunate people who missed it, don't worry, we'll be back in spring 2014. In the meantime Chris will be uploading some videos of the concert on his YouTube channel: YouTube.com/ChrisRowbury
concert videos now on YouTube
Wednesday 6 March 2013
After many years of "I must really get around to putting some concert videos
up on YouTube" Chris has finally got around to doing it!
Check out Chris's YouTube channel: YouTube.com/ChrisRowbury where you can find videos from the recent Singing Safari concert including Vuma, Mravalazamier, Heke hau and You are my sunshine.
You can subscribe to Chris's channel and be notified whenever new videos are uploaded.
singing safari concert a resounding success!
Sunday 3 March 2013
Yes, it was very cold (the audience kept their coats on), and yes, the
seats were hard, and yes, we never thought we could pull it off. But YES
Yet again, the singers in this winter's Singing Safari in Ipswich surprised and delighted me (and the audience). Just six rehearsals to learn EIGHT tricky songs, some in 'foreign' AND I made them do some dance moves. Always amazes me when it actually comes together. A bunch of (mostly) strangers, no auditions, many whom think they're not very good 'singers' and always, always end up making a beautiful sound. Well done everybody!! Looking forward to the next one.
Earlier than usual, this year's summer Singing Safari sets off from Ispwich in early May to perform in the beautiful gardens at Tattingstone Place on Sunday 16 June. Make sure you're on the mailing list to be kept informed.
winter singing safari gets off to roaring start
Wednesday 23 January 2013
Don't know where they all come from, but 53 singers braved the snow and ice last night to start off this winter's Singing Safari in Ipswich. Next week (Tuesday 29 January) is the last week to get on board, so get your skates on!
We managed to sketch through FOUR songs all in four-part harmony, and two in foreign languages. And they sounded glorious. Not a bad start! Just four more songs to go before our concert on 2 March in Ipswich.
winter newsletter now out
Monday 21 January 2013
Chris's latest newsletter has just been sent out. If you're not on his mailing list you won't know what you're missing! You might want to note that there is now a new menu item which takes you to the latest Newsletter.
This twice-yearly newsletter goes out each January and July and contains all Chris's latest singing news as well as details of his forthcoming singing weekends. This winter issue contains items about foreign excursions, pop song weekends, the new concept of "Instant choir, just add people", "Yee ha gospel", a proposal for a free monthly newsletter, and new residential venues for 2013.
sing for water concert raises over £300 for WaterAid
Monday 10 December 2012
The OK Chorale performed as part of a Sing for Water concert in Ipswich on Saturday 8 December and helped to raise over £300 for the charity WaterAid. There were five other local acts on the bill ranging from a youth street dance team to a solo folk singer (who covered Slade's "Merry Christmas" as a very slow ballad!).
It was a very cold church and there was only one toilet, and we were on last, but over half the choir (loads of people were missing due to winter illness) rose to the occasion and sang a 20 minute set of six songs on watery themes. We also slipped in a Christmas song from Nigeria. The concert was so successful that there's talk of making it an annual event.
new concert listings page
Monday 26 November 2012
My local singing group, The OK Chorale, is not really a performing group, but we do have an annual concert each spring in Woodbridge, Suffolk. Occasionally we have a slot in other people's concerts. We have been invited to perform in aid of WaterAid in Ipswich on Saturday 8 December. There are also two Singing Safari performances in Ipswich each winter and summer.
You can now find all these performance dates gathered together on one handy Concerts page.
Big Night Out Community Choir knocks 'em dead!
Thursday 8 November 2012
Playing to a full house at the Spa Pavilion in Felixstowe, a random bunch of 60 singers wowed the audience by opening the second half of this annual BBC Radio Suffolk event for Children in Need. We sang three songs to enthusiastic response from the crowd: a civil rights gospel song, a song from South Africa with dance moves (!) and the Beach Boys' hit Barbara Ann.
The sound was amazing and it was hard to believe that the choir had only come together for a couple of rehearsals and mostly had never worked together before. Members ranged from professional singers to those who had never sung in public (or outside their own bathroom!) before.
BBC Radio Suffolk said: "We really appreciate everyone giving up their time to support us and Children In Need and to help raise £8000 – a brilliant sum." You can still listen to clips from the concert on BBC iPlayer: BBC Radio Suffolk.
If you missed out on this choir from scratch, don't worry, Chris will be creating another one over six Tuesday evenings in January to perform in Ipswich at the beginning of March. Check out the Singing Safari details and/ or make sure you're on Chris's mailing list to be kept informed of other singing opportunities.
singers needed for BBC Children in Need community choir
Wednesday 17 October 2012
In just a few hours, and without the aid of a safety net, Chris will be forming a choir from scratch to perform at the annual BBC Radio Suffolk Big Night Out at The Spa Pavilion, Felixstowe on Wednesday 7 November.
In less than a week over 60 singers have signed up so unfortunately the choir is now full. Stay tuned for another scratch choir opportunity in Ipswich. The annual winter Singing Safari starts in January with a performance in Ipswich on Saturday 2 March.
brand new residential courses for 2013
Thursday 30 August 2012
I've just confirmed two wonderful new residential venues for 2013. One is the Claret Centre near St. Neots in Cambridgeshire for the weekend of 26 – 28 April. This is a gorgeous historic set of buildings dating back to 1086 set in its own 15 acre estate in the sleepy village of Buckden.
The second is Brathay Hall, Ambleside in the Lake District for the weekend of 26 – 28 July. A beautiful Georgian mansion set in 360 acres of mature woodland and rolling pasture at the head of Lake Windermere. Fine lake views, peaceful location and not a bunk bed in sight!
Both these venues are well-appointed and very affordable with a range of twin and single accommodation. I'll be posting more details very soon, so stay tuned (or better still sign up for my mailing list)!
updated song repertoire
Tuesday 17 July 2012
I've just updated my song repertoire page. There
are now around 410 songs on the list that I've taught over the years. That's not
including all the simple chants, rounds and warm up songs, nor the pop songs!
I was amazed at how many there are, especially since it means that somewhere deep in my brain I know all the parts!! I'll also be adding some more of my own arrangements of some of these songs (which have now been reduced from £2.50 each to £1.50 each) very soon, so stay tuned.
Singing Safari perform at Jimmy's Farm
Thursday 5 July 2012
We were so popular last year, that we have two performance slots this year at Jimmy's Farm so no excuse for missing us! Come and enjoy some fine singing at a great venue, and all for free.
40 keen singers from this summer's Singing Safari will be performing eight songs learnt in just six weeks, all in full glorious harmony with no instruments. There will be songs from Georgia, England, New Zealand, East Africa, Poland, Jamaica and even some Beatles! Brand new songs that we've not performed before.
The set should last about half an hour and will be performed at 1pm and repeated at 2.30pm. Let's hope the rain holds off!
the problem of men and singing
Monday 2 July 2012
I've no idea why more men don't sing. What's not to like? Plenty of women,
good for your health (reduces stress, helps breathing, increases feeling of
well-being), brings pleasure and is FUN!
But it does seem to be getting worse. I reckon usually 10% of my workshops are men, but recently that's been reducing. So ... to encourage more men to sing I've currently got two special offers available: one on my gospel singing day (see below: Discover your inner Elvis) and the other on my Lake District weekend where I'm offering three blokes a shared room for just £120 each (usually £160).
If YOU have any ideas on how to get more men singing, then pop over to Twitter and use the hash tag #getmensinging.
discover your inner Elvis!
Thursday 28 June 2012
Many famous singers have their roots in gospel music – Elvis Presley,
Aretha Franklin, Sam Cooke, Whitney Houston, Jerry Lee Lewis – whilst
Negro spirituals gave rise to the blues.
Come to my gospel singing day near Ipswich and discover your inner Elvis (or Aretha)! As a special incentive to men, I'm offering a deal: it will cost any two men booking together £30 in advance (or £40 on the door) for the two of you.
new search facility added
Monday, 11 June 2012
Maybe not earth-shattering, or even singing-related, but I've now added a search box to all the pages on the website to help you find relevant stuff. The search results open in a separate page with some ads at the top (it IS free after all!). Hope it helps.
On which note ... do let me know if there are any other improvements you'd like to see on the site and I'll see if I can oblige.
singing day filling fast, but we need more men!
Wednesday, 16 May 2012
We've had the Military Wives' Choir, but where are all the MEN who love
Over 40 keen singers have already signed up for a full day of singing in Kenilworth on Saturday 26th May, but there is still room for more men.
It is well known that singing together makes men more attractive, is the key to a long life and improves their sense of humour. So what's not to like? As a further incentive, Chris is offering a reduced price of £25 for every two blokes who book together (instead of £30). So gather up a few mates and learn some amazing harmony songs from across the globe.
first ok chorale concert a resounding sell-out!
Monday, 26 March 2012
Last Saturday evening, Woodbridge Methodist Church was packed to the gunnels with an audience of around 180 eagerly anticipating The OK Chorale's first-ever public concert. And they weren't disappointed!
The group sang a total of 16 songs from around the world, all in the original languages, and some even with dance moves. Resplendent in their yellow and blue, any nerves were soon banished by joyful harmonies. Yes, a few notes were added, and a couple were in the wrong places, but overall the sound was stunning and the audience were blown away, even joining in with a song at the end. We also managed to raise £560 for the charity WaterAid. Roll on our next concert!
new competition — win a free singing workshop place
Thursday, 15 March 2012
Send in your ideas for singing workshops together with suitably tempting titles and win a FREE place on the workshop (or, for those who won't be in the UK, two world music choir CDs). You can enter as many times as you like. Tell all your friends!
the ok chorale's first ever concert!
Thursday, 1 March 2012
With a unique repertoire of songs from around the world, the ok chorale are delighted to present their first ever concert at 7.30pm on Saturday 24 March at the Woodbridge Methodist Church, St. John's Street IP12 1ED. Tickets £5 (£2 under 16s), all profits to the charity WaterAid.
Songs of passion and joy from across the globe. Phone 01394 610486 for more information, or send a cheque (payable to The OK Chorale) to 46 Old Barrack Road, Woodbridge IP12 4ET to make sure of your tickets. Or just turn up on the night and get tickets on the door!
singing safari concert sells out!
Monday, 27 February 2012
The evening of Saturday 25 February saw a full house at St. Peter's by the Waterfront in Ipswich for the first ever indoor concert by the Singing Safari scratch choir. Over 120 people turned up to see the choir perform alongside local women's quartet Way Beyond the Blue.
A full programme of songs from around the world delighted the packed audience and even had them joining in! The Singing Safari choir performed eight songs all in glorious four-part harmony and in the original languages. Songs were from New Zealand, Macedonia, Russia, USA, the Pacific islands, and South Africa. And some with dance moves!
An amazing accomplishment for a bunch of around 40 strangers who had only spent six two-hour sessions learning all the songs. If this is something that appeals to you, Chris will be running another Singing Safari this summer to perform at Jimmy's Farm in July. Make sure you're on his mailing list to stay informed. More details on the workshops page.
You can see an article about the Singing Safari here in the Evening Star together with a photo.
winter singing safari attracts over 40 singers
Thursday, 26 January 2012
Following the success of last summer's Singing Safari at Jimmy's Farm just outside Ipswich, Chris launched a winter version on 17 January. Over 40 singers turned up to learn a bunch of songs over six weekly sessions.
Since it's bit cold to perform outdoors at this time of year (!) the Singing Safari concert will take place at St. Peter's by the Waterfront, Ipswich on Saturday 25 February at 7.30pm. The Singing Safari choir will be supported by local women's acappella quartet Way Beyond the Blue.
Tickets are £5 (£2 under 16s) available on the door, from St. Peter's or by phoning Chris on 01394 610 486.
If you missed out on the winter Singing Safari, don't worry, Chris will be running a summer version to perform at Jimmy's Farm on Saturday 21 July.
inter-faith choir perform for Mayor of Ipswich
Monday, 21 November 2011
40 singers from a wide range of backgrounds came together to build a choir from scratch to perform at the Mayor's Celebration of Community on Sunday 20 November. In just one day, Chris taught six songs in the original languages from several different faiths and traditions.
Squeezed into the Council Chamber of Ipswich Town Hall, the songs were scattered throughout the afternoon event which consisted of several short presentations about various projects in the city. At the end, Chris had the whole room on their feet joining in with a wordless Jewish song. Together with moves!
One of the hardest songs tackled (because of the language and unfamiliar scales) was Gandhi's favourite Hindi devotional song Raghupati Raghav Rajaram. The choir was complimented afterwards on their Hindi pronunciation which rounded the day off wonderfully.
singing safari a great success (and no rain!)
Monday, 25 July 2011
Chris's first Ipswich Singing Safari performed on Saturday at Jimmy's Farm to a huge and appreciative audience. The rain held off and 50 keen singers turned up in brightly coloured tops to blast their way through the eight songs that they had learnt over the previous six weeks.
The audience definitely wanted more at the end of the half hour set, so Chris taught them all a song, and then the Singing Safari ended with a reprise of the South African song Shosholoza.
The Singing Safari was such a success that Chris will definitely be repeating it next summer, and also adding a winter version in January. Make sure you contact Chris to go on his mailing list to stay informed of this and other singing and performing opportunities.
50 singers turn up to join this year's singing safari
Saturday, 18 June 2011
We managed to squeeze 50 singers into the Co-op Education Centre's Pioneer Hall last Tuesday for the first of six sessions to build a choir from scratch to perform at Jimmy's Farm.
It was great to see so many keen people — many of whom had never sung before — especially a large contingent of blokes! We learnt three whole songs in two hours (not including the Pachalbel canon warm up) and filled the room with gorgeous harmonies. It was loud!
singing safari sets off in June
Friday, 22 April 2011
After five years of creating a choir from scratch for the Warwick Folk Festival, Chris is bringing his Singing Safari to Ipswich.
Over six fun-filled two-hour sessions, Chris will teach a range of songs from across the globe, all arranged especially for voice and all in three or four part harmony. The Singing Safari will then make a half hour appearance at Jimmy's Farm during one of their busiest times of year: Saturday 23 July, 1pm.
The Singing Safari is open to anyone who loves to sing (and perform!) regardless of experience. No need to read sheet music as all songs will be taught by ear. Make sure you're on the mailing list to stay informed. Rehearsals start Tuesday 14 June in Ipswich and run for six weeks. There will also be a rehearsal on the morning of the performance.
the ok chorale is not taking on any new singers
Wednesday, 23 March 2011
With almost 100 members, the ok chorale is now closed to new members for the foreseeable future. Only existing members may apply to join us again after the Easter break. Sorry, but there really is no more room!
If you're desperate to sing, you can join me at one of my monthly Saturday workshops in Stutton (just south of Ipswich), or Thurston (near Bury). See the workshop dates page for further details.
I am also planning to create a choir from scratch over six weekly evening sessions in Ipswich to perform on music day of the Ipswich Festival on Sunday 3 July. Details are still being worked out. The project is called the singing safari. Make sure you're on my mailing list to be kept informed.
fun night at the ok chorale
Monday, 31 January 2011
Well, you could have knocked me down with a feather at last Thursday's first meeting of the ok chorale! I had hoped for around 20 singers to turn up, so was totally gobsmacked when over 100 appeared!!!
We quickly outgrew the small room I'd hired (it was like being on a tube train in the rush hour), but fortunately the hall next door was vacant for one night only. We re-assembled there and had great fun doing silly warm ups and tackling three great songs.
With luck, most people will have enjoyed it and will come back this week to our new venue:
Kyson Primary School
Woodbridge IP12 4HX