‘Fast away the old year passes’ and never were truer words written!
It’s been another full-on year, made even more so by the need to start preparing not only for 2017, which will see us celebrating our 5th Birthday, but also mapping out what 2018 might look like!
This year we seem to have been busier than ever, with no less than 7 concerts / performances. We started our season as guests of The Square Street Singers, in a Spring Concert staged in the magnificent Theatre Royal, Ramsbottom: it was a wonderful evening and a great experience to have had the opportunity to join forces with such an established and talented Choir.
Next came an appearance in Bolton Market Place, where busy shoppers took a break and soaked in the atmosphere of live entertainment.
It was particularly heart-warming to see a group of young people enthusiastically joining in with the many familiar tunes. Subsequent concerts saw us on a return visit to the Bolton Branch of Parkinson’s UK, before we spread our wings, boarded a coach and headed to Nelson, where the hospitality and homemade scones were second to none! It was a night where the power of song proved the best medicine, with our music reaching out to touch a member of the audience experiencing a particularly challenging period in their cancer journey: there could have been no better recognition!
The onset of the festive season heralded a big change for us, as for the first time since 2013 we took a break from our annual ‘Jingle Bell Sing-A-Long’ concert in the Victoria Hall. As December fast approached it did seem somewhat strange not to be preparing for this mammoth event but in a deliberate strategy to perform further afield we held our ‘Mulled Wine, Mince Pies and Music’ concert at The Barlow in Edgworth – and what a credit this venue is to all the hard-working and dedicated volunteers, who run it for the benefit of the local community: and then travelled to the warm and welcoming surroundings of Bury Parish Church for ‘Christmas at the Rock’; a concert that saw us join forces with humourous, northern legends –The Houghton Weavers. What a privilege it was to be sharing the stage with a group whose career spans over 40 years; during which time they have appeared with Jasper Carrott, Billy Connolly, Phil Cool, Norman Wisdom – and now Bolton Cancer Voices! It was a well-received programme, offering a diverse range of festive music from ever-popular Christmas carols and tunes to less well-known pieces just waiting in the wings for an introduction to the appreciative audience.
Our final appearance of the season found us at Bolton Hospice, where we participated in their ‘Light Up A Life’ service. On a cold, starry night, our voices rang out in the still air, to help those present remember and reflect on the lives of loved ones sadly no longer with them.
We’ve done larger events and small intimate ones: performed indoors and out: undertaken joint ventures and stand-alone ones. But what they’ve all had in common is the pleasure we derive from entertaining others; the joy and camaraderie we share when singing together; the experience and enrichment the Choir brings to our lives and our steely determination to always give the best of ourselves.
In case you’ve been thinking 2016 has been all work and no play - we held 2 successful Singing Workshops with scrummy rehearsal teas; organized a playback of the 2015 ‘Jingle Bell Sing-A-Long’ concert, which aids learning and gives us a chance to thank those who add their voices to our massed Choir at the event: there was a local theatre trip and back by popular demand - our Christmas meal, complete with a prize for the most entertaining headwear and a visit from Father Christmas, who distributed Secret Santa presents. You can find evidence of the fun had on our photos page!
Over the summer, in a rare turn of events, both our Musical Director and our accompanist were away at the same time, but it was business as usual for the rest of us, as we are extremely fortunate to have two wonderful visiting Musical Directors, who step in and help us whenever the need arises. With their individual briefs, we were introduced to the world of opera and explored more a cappella.
Within mere weeks of forming members took part in their first performance, appearing on the Town Hall steps as part of a massed community Choir to mark the opening of the Bolton 2012 Games with a song entitled 'Chase Down The Sun', which had been specially written for the occasion.
Promotional stands at two Macmillan Health & Well-Being events and in the Market Place, Bolton, along with the frequent publicity we generate, have ensured we attract new members throughout the year, helping edge us towards our target membership of 70. The media continue to be exceedingly supportive of us, with regular newspaper and magazine articles, mentions on local / regional radio plus television appearances on That’s TV and most recently, BBC North West Tonight – how amazing is that! This tremendous support is very much appreciated; helping us not only recruit new members but also reach out to anyone whose life has been touched by cancer.
Many of our wonderful members willingly share details of their cancer journey in the hope of inspiring others and demonstrating that whatever tomorrow may bring, you should seize the day, live life to the full and savour the many joys that life has to offer. We are grateful to them for allowing their stories to be used for the benefit of others.
Having a longer than usual break over Christmas has allowed time for the writing of this synopsis, as well as for a spot of self-indulgent daydreaming about what our Birthday year might shape up to be!