Saturday July 6th was a major event in the four year history of the Grand Union Community Choir. Formed in 2009, the choir's principle aim is to provide an opportunity for singers of all ages and abilities to enjoy singing with others. However, the growing desire of the choir members to share their joy of singing with others and the problem of finding a venue in Leighton Buzzard large enough to house both the choir and an audience led us to the Grove Theatre in Dunstable.
This was an opportunity for the choir to experience performing in a professional theatre and as some of the choir had never performed in public before, it was quite a daunting prospect!
However from the moment the choir members arrived to be shown to their dressing rooms (quite different from the facilities that the choir are used to!) it was apparent that this was an experience that they were going to enjoy to the maximum!
The afternoon was spent rehearsing with the eight-piece band (again a first for many of the choir) and then it was time to get changed ready for the evening performance. The choir assembled in silence on stage behind the closed curtains. The atmosphere was one of excitement tinged with apprehension. Then the curtain rose and although the stage lights prevented the choir from seeing into the auditorium, they heard the applause coming from the 469 strong audience who had come to hear them perform.
The concert, which was shared with the fourteen members of the South Bedfordshire Youth Voices seemed to fly past. The audience were entertained with music covering a range of styles and genres and, as happens at all Grand Union concerts, also joined in four pieces where choir and audience sang together.
Judging by comments from both the choir and audience, the evening was a success. Choir members had thoroughly enjoyed their 'performance experience' and the audience had enjoyed the show. The most common question afterwards was "when are we/you doing this again" a question which Susan, the choir's 'musical director, refused to answer directly!
The concert also provided an opportunity for the choir to continue it's tradition of raising funds for charity. During the previous three years the choir had raised over £3000 for a variety of local and national charities. This year the chosen charity was Cancer Research. This was chosen because of the number of members of the choir or their families who had personal experience of this disease. Fund raising had started earlier in the year; a barn dance and raffle had been run in May which had raised £1183.34; four members of the choir had taken part in the 'Race for Life' at Milton Keynes which had raised £1020; a raffle was run leading up to and during the concert which raised £2469.56 and a bucket collection was taken at the end of the concert which raised £680.29. In total the choir raised £5851.14 which has been sent to Cancer Research UK and other cancer related charities. A phenomenal effort by the choir and all those who helped at the various events.