Total Praise for Phakamisa

Our year got off to a wonderful start with a concert at the Methodist Church. Here’s a great account of the evening from one of our basses, Warren Bardsley, who also organised the event.

Lichfield Methodist Church was delighted to be able to host a Gospel Choir concert on January 27th, though we wondered just how many would attend, in view of  some counter-attractions on the same night, not least, being the visit of Pam Ayres to the Garrick! We needn’t have worried.  Although ticket sales led us to expect an audience of at least sixty, about double that number turned up on the night and the church was full for the performance, which is always gratifying!  It was an appreciative audience too, entering into the spirit of the performance, responding to the invitation to sing along, if not quite dance in the aisles!  Comments afterwards were fulsome in their praise of the choir, the quality of our singing, range of material and evident enthusiasm. A truly inspirational evening!

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This gives me the opportunity to say how much membership of LGC has meant to me, personally.  I joined in October 2016 when recovering from illness.  A member had been encouraging me to join and I decided that this was the right time.  I have sung in choirs over the years but not recently and never in one quite as large.  I felt immediately welcome – especially by the bass section!  Also I was fortunate to join when  we were beginning rehearsals for the National English Opera’s  presentation of Bach’s St John Passion, which involved several choirs in an Advent concert in Lichfield Cathedral – a memorable event.  Its a privilege to belong. I feel very much at home.

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One of the things I love about the Gospel Choir is the way we support and encourage one another. With numbers approaching 100+ its impossible,  with the best will in the world  to know everyone, even by name, but there is a strong sense of togetherness and although we work hard in rehearsals, we have fun! Recently I heard it said of an orchestra that in order to be successful it is imperative to create the right environment, and that is essentially the work of the conductor. In this, are singularly fortunate to be led by Themba who combines professional skills as a musician and a relationship with the choir which is warm and empathetic. He is a great  encourager and brings out the best in us.  Even when he is issuing a mild ‘telling-off’ to a section of the choir, he does it so graciously that it almost feels like a compliment!  His spontaneity can be challenging at times and keeps us on our toes! So thank you for having me.

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Just a brief word about ‘ Phakamisa’ the remarkable  ministry of Pinetown Methodist Church in Durban South Africa which the concert supported. It began in 1993 with five women who trained to be nursery school teachers, enabling them to earn a small wage and give 100 children the benefit of a good pre-school education.  Now, almost 25 years on the project supports over 16,000 children and their carers.  In an area devastated by the AIDS pandemic there are many children whose parents have died. Inspired by the compassion of Christ, Phakamisa offers people, through education, social care and life-skills training, the possibility to support themselves and the orphans in their care. This is the meaning of Phakamisa – ‘a hand-UP not a hand-OUT’.

Saturday’s concert raised £550 for this vital humanitarian work, for which we are very grateful.  The Director of the project came to Lichfield last May to launch the fund-raising programme here .  Thokozani  Poswa is a Zulu woman and told us that when they meet to worship they often sing songs like ‘Manginsondele’! So some kind of link perhaps  between Phakamisa and Lichfield Gospel Choir? Hopefully when I next send a report of our fund-raising we can include some pictures of the choir in action!

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Community Spirit at the Symphony Hall

We had such a fantastic evening singing at the Birmingham Symphony Hall on Sunday. Community Spirit brings together choirs from around the West Midlands to sing in one of the best concert halls in the world!

Our choir has been taking part since the very beginning and it was lovely to hear Carol Pemberton of Black Voices tell everyone that we were actually the inspiration behind the project.

A huge thank you to everyone who made Community Spirit happen this year, and the biggest thank you of all to Themba. We were all slightly nervous in the dress rehearsal, but after an impromptu practice in a corridor, everyone felt much better!

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Here’s a little bit of us singing Death Came a Knocking, specially arranged for our choir by Sara Colman.

Christmas Raffle Success

In between all the eating, drinking and merry music-making that made our wonderful Christmas party, we also held what quite possibly became the longest ever raffle in aid of Lichfield Foodbank. If there’s one thing Lichfield Gospel Choir excelled at in 2016 (as well as, you know, singing in ETO’s St John Passion and taking the Symphony Hall by storm for Community Spirit) it is surely raffling. We raised £121 which, amazingly, was enough to pay for 190 meals!food-bank-thank-you-2017-301216choirLichfield Foodbank have been in touch to thank us for the donation and say how much it was appreciated! They’ve fed approximately 900 people since April and of those more than 300 were children. It’s great to know we played a small part in that.

“Everyone who came to the foodbank from 28th November up until Christmas was given a special voucher so that they could collect a Christmas bag for each member of their household just before Christmas.  We were able to assemble 200 of these bags which was really good as we know they were all very much appreciated. They make a real difference to families who are in crisis at this challenging time of the year.”

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Singing for Sleepover Club

Every Tuesday we rehearse at Saxon Hill school in Lichfield. We’re really fortunate to have such a welcoming place to practice, with a piano and room for all 90 of us – not to mention an array of beautiful artwork on the walls!

As we raise our voices in a vamp, or stamp-clap-hallelujah through a chorus, it’s easy to forget that we’re sharing the building with Saxon Hill’s Sleepover Club and, not too far away, the young people who stay there are getting ready for bed. Happily, just before Christmas we had chance to sing to our hosts and present them with the proceeds of a raffle organised by soprano, Shirley Trelfa.

Here’s what the Lichfield Mercury had to say:

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New Website!

As you can see we’ve updated our website… and we’re really excited about it!

We hope you’ll have a look around and that you enjoy the photos and videos.

We’d like to take this opportunity to say that we’re very grateful to Keith Morrigan and all who were involved in the original website – we really do appreciate all the work they’ve put in for us over the last few years.