VOCAL Variations has been singing regularly for ten years in the Carice Elgar Room at the Elgar Birthplace Museum in Lower Broadheath; a small recital room ideal for the group’s meetings. The Room and members combine to create a relaxed and friendly atmosphere. This small group of singers who prepare and sing songs with a professional accompanist aim continually each month to deliver their best performance. This may be just for their own satisfaction, to improve their confidence or to prepare for a concert or an examination. Enjoyment is vital to the group who aim to entertain and communicate their love of singing.
At the meetings, songs are selected to fit (however loosely) a different monthly theme. The intention is to find new pieces which will extend their repertoire. As well as tea and cakes at the meetings, Music Mart has been created for anyone who wants to sell or buy second-hand sheet music and songbooks.
Pat Pennington who formed the group has been a volunteer at the Museum for 14 years. She welcomes any opportunity to sing and has performed in operatic societies, choral societies and other singing groups. There are several original members: Julia Winkworth who has recently been awarded a Diploma of Music with a distinction (singing with Vocal Variations has given her practice and confidence), Lyn Snook who sings with the Birmingham City Choir, Barbara Dichiara who belongs to an entertaining group, a drama group and other choirs and Janet Emmerson who is a volunteer and member of staff at the Museum.
Another unexpected product of the group is our association with Robin Davidson, who came to accompany us at a concert and was so taken with Julia’s voice and the idea of having a theme for each meeting that he composes songs setting music to poems for her and carols for the group. These are performed regularly at our Festival Recitals in August at the Elgar School of Music and at Christmas. The group was delighted to perform at The Music Festival Weekend at Holy Trinity Church, Malvern Link Top for the first time. Wherever the group performs it raises money for the Worcester-based charity Leukaemia Care.
To celebrate the tenth anniversary of the formation of the group, Worcester’s Luise Horrocks and John Brierley will repeat the group’s launch by taking a master class on 1st November with six singers. Singers are needed to take part and everyone, especially those who enjoy singing, is welcome to come and listen.
Luise’s career as a professional soprano has taken her throughout the UK, Europe, America and South Africa. She has held teaching positions in both the Junior and Senior departments of the Birmingham Conservatoire and as a visiting lecturer at Birmingham University. She runs an extensive private practice, works as a Vocal Coach on residential courses and regularly runs workshops for choirs and vocal groups. She has wide experience as an adjudicator and is an Associate Chief examiner for Trinity College London.
John Brierley read music at University College, Durham and enjoys a varied freelance career which includes being Musical Director for Shakespeare at the Commandery productions, working as an accompanist for both singers and instrumentalists and teaching at the Elgar School of Music. He is Organist and Choir Director at St John-in-Bedwardine, Worcester and Musical Director of Bromsgrove Choral Society.
Trying to keep up with technology Vocal Variations has a group Facebook page and its website www.vocalvariations.uk will be launched soon.
Anyone can come and listen at the meetings at no charge or, of course, incorporate it with a visit to the Museum (highly rated on Trip Advisor) with its specialist shop of Elgar recordings and sheet music.
Don’t miss their recital at the Elgar School of Music this Saturday, August 16 at 2pm.