People have often asked me how I came to sing with Kingfisher Chorale, and why it is clearly so important to me. So, here is my story...
It was a frosty Saturday just before Christmas in 1997. I’d recently moved to Leicester to take up an Engineering lectureship in Mechanics of Materials at the university. After a freezing walk into the city with my husband, we decided to have a look inside the beautiful Guildhall.
Opening the ancient door of the main hall, I saw a poster for the Kingfisher Chorale Christmas concert with mulled wine.
The performance had been the night before.
My heart sank, I had missed it!
I’d heard of Kingfisher Chorale. When I’d told my singing friends I was moving to Leicester, one of them said straight away, ‘Ooh you must look out for Kingfisher Chorale, they’re really good. My choir was up against them in the BBC choir of the year competition.’
But then when I moved here, I hadn’t found them. I’d tried other choirs, and I’m not saying they didn’t sing well or weren’t friendly. That wasn’t the problem. It was that I was looking for something more, something different - a smaller intimate number of singers, where each individual has to be good and able carry the line by themselves if needed. Music that wasn’t just the same old crowd-pleasers, but that is always stimulating, challenging and enriching. I just hadn’t found it yet.
I’d spent the previous eight years in Cambridge where you can easily find anyone to make any genre of music with you, pretty much at any time. Coming to Leicester I really missed being part of a small chamber choir. So I spent my weekends travelling to London and Oxford to sing there.
Then by chance, in September 2000 I decided to try the Leicester Bach Choir. It was much larger than I wanted, but I saw they were doing the Bach B Minor Mass - a personal favourite of mine - so off I went to the first rehearsal. I sang my way through the Sanctus and Hosanna, and put my heart into it as I always do with such a fabulous piece. At the end of the evening, Giles, the musical director, came over to me. I had no idea that he had been watching me, or what made him say this, but he said ‘I think you might be happier in Kingfisher Chorale, I think that’s more what you are looking for. Would you like to audition?”
Would Iike to audition!?!?! YES!!! I jumped at the opportunity, and happily I got in.
December 2000 saw me for the first time on that Guildhall stage singing the Christmas concert.
Kingfishers was everything I had wanted in a group of singers - I stopped looking for anything else. The rest, as they say, is history.
What can I say about how much Kingfisher Chorale has meant to me over the years?
When my daughter Rebecca died suddenly in 2014, at the age of 7, my world shattered completely. I could hardly breathe, let along sing, for a year. But when I was able to return, not only was I welcomed back with open arms, but the music became the lifeline that kept me going through those initial terrible years of grief and trauma.
More recently it became time for me to use some of my other talents. I created our new website, got the social media going - and often found myself putting far more time into that than into my second career of freeing women from patriarchy!
Then in September 2023 I became the new Chair, a role I never imagined I’d be taking on. I’d never considered myself Chair material - I'd always been happy as the 'tech girl' in the background - but suddenly it seemed the right time and the right step. Lots of work - of course. But, you know what, it’s worth it because the choir is worth it, the members are worth it, and the music we create needs to be shared.
Kingfishers has been a constant in my life for the last 23 years. A source of wonderful music, great friends, and enormous healing that only the magic of music can achieve.
It’s got me through some very hard times, and it’s given me some of the most amazing experiences. That’s not an exaggeration.
If I think back to that day in 1997, looking at that poster, I never imagined in a million years that not only would it become such an important part of my life for nearly a quarter of a century, but that I’d ever end up the Chair! Frankly, the mind boggles. But then it’s a mysterious world.
And as for the beautiful Leicester Guildhall - the building and our Christmas concerts will always be particularly special to me.
One thing is certain, I’m enormously grateful to everyone in Kingfishers, both past and present, for contributing to something so special, and together creating something that has given me so much joy. Anne
If you want to come to this year's Guildhall concert BOOK TICKETS HERE!