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The members of Essex-based Waterside Choir were devastated when the lockdown put a stop to their weekly rehearsals and planned performances. So, determined to keep their comradery going by continuing to put their music out into the world, the virtual choir was born. The brainchild of choir member Ron Circus, the project was inspired by weekly Zoom rehearsals, and the feeling of joy they inspired seeing friends' faces smiling from the screen. "It reminded me of a video I'd seen some time ago, before I'd even heard of Zoom, and loved the way it was all put together, as well as how it sounded. I had to ask the gov'nors of course, and was so pleased when they welcomed the idea with open arms," Ron says.
The "gov'nors" of whom Ron speaks are choir directors and professional musicians, Heather Simmons and Dave Cooke, also a Grammy nominee. This husband and wife team, much loved by the choir's members, create awe-inspiring and ambitious arrangements of popular songs in four and five-part harmony, as well as writing original music exclusively for Waterside. One such original, Singing For My Soul, was performed on BBC Radio 4's Sunday Worship earlier this year.
The first virtual choir release, California Dreamin', came in March, and was the last song the choir had been learning together before they were forced to disperse due to the global coronavirus pandemic. It was shared across social media with the hopes of raising much needed funds for local homeless charity, HARP. Buoyed by its positive reception, everyone was keen to do more, and the next release was Black Horse and the Cherry Tree, one of the choir's very first numbers, which was due to make a comeback in its 2020 repertoire. In the first week of its release it gained a Twitter like from the original artist herself, KT Tunstall.
Future virtual choir tracks are in the pipeline, spreading the joy of music at this difficult time, along with a Facebook concert. So stay up to date with Waterside Choir at https://heathernyjazz.wixsite.com/waterside-choirs or www.facebook.com/WatersideChoirsEssex
Heather and Dave's band The Daisy Bowlers, can be heard regularly performing alongside Waterside Choir, as well as at venues across Essex. They're also available to entertain guests at your wedding. Check out www.thedaisybowlers.com
Check out the performances on YouTube here and spread a little joy...
California Dreamin' - https://youtu.be/Yf3GDmG8HpA
Black Horse and the Cherry Tree - https://youtu.be/Oaf0m0xP4Nc