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Plymouth Philharmonic Choir – Things to know before you go!

We are always looking for new members but if you are thinking of joining a large choir like ours might you feel a bit daunted.  Anyone is welcome to watch a rehearsal to see what we are all about.

All you need to know is below but to speak to someone about membership and other enquiries please contact our  Membership Secretary Pat Brodie: kenbrodie@tiscali.co.uk   01752 330337

You may find these first impressions from a potential new singer helpful:

“When I first arrived to sit in on a rehearsal, to see if the Plymouth Philharmonic Choir (PPC) was for me, I was struck by how many people came through the door, from all walks of life and all ages.  The conductor, Christopher, settled everyone down and they began to sing. It was phenomenal! I asked the lady next to me how long they had been learning the piece, expecting her to say 5 or 6 weeks.  She said that this was the first run-through! Wow! I was nervous. However, everyone was so friendly and welcoming that I joined up and I haven’t looked back since.”

Can you read music?

It helps, but it isn’t essential – as long as you have an ear for the music and are willing to learn and rehearse in your own time.

Rehearsals and Parking

Most rehearsals are on Thursday evenings at 7:15 in Meade King Hall, Plymouth College (see the maps on our contacts page for directions). You can park on the premises (behind the hockey pitch) if you get there early enough – space is at a bit of a premium!

What to bring

You will need to have a pencil to mark (gently) the scores, which are hired in from libraries, and a rubber is useful.  Or you can happily mark away in highlighter pen if you buy your own copy.  If you want to do that then Delia in the altos will help you.

You may also want to bring a bottle of water to help keep your singing voice in tip-top condition – alternatively there is an opportunity to hydrate, as well as meet other choir members, during the break, when a lovely cup of warm hot chocolate, coffee or squash is on sale, in the foyer.

When it starts

We meet for rehearsal at 19.15 sharp – it’s better to arrive earlier than that so you can meet up with friends and have a natter before (and not during) rehearsal. All rehearsal dates and venues are posted on the choir’s page of the website – you’ll be told how to log onto this when you join.

Rehearsal CDs

You may be a fantastic sight-reader or require a bit of a helping hand: either way you can boost your knowledge of the music and in particular your part, with rehearsal CDs for £2 – they are extremely helpful!

Performance CDs

Do you want to know what all those hours of rehearsal will sound like? You can buy a performance CD to help you get to grips with the performance-side of things; remembering where all those crescendos and diminuendos should be!

Who’s who?

Christopher Fletcher is our conductor and fearless leader.

Another key person is Jenny ‘The Piano’ Shepley who is awesome on the keys and helps us at each rehearsal.  Then there’s the ‘Head Choir Girl’ and Secretary-extraordinaire Jen Millward, who you probably contacted first about joining us – she’s there to help keep us all organised.

The committee members are also there to help.

Voice Reps

These guys are the people who look after each voice section – they are the folks to go to if you have any questions or concerns.

Score Reps

If you need to borrow a copy of the music you can collect one from the score reps (sometimes this will be your voice rep) – they will also need you to return the scores to them, once the concert is completed, or earlier if you are unable to sing in a concert.

Break times

There is a break at 20.30ish of 10 minutes, before which there are general announcements. Announcements also appear on the choir notice board, newsletter and on the choir’s website.

100 Club

As the Choir is self-funding, we need to raise money for performances and hiring of scores etc. You can pay £1 per month for a number and a chance of winning a prize sum each month.

Paying subs

The preferred way is by cheque made payable to Plymouth Philharmonic Choir, and you can pay this to the choir’s Subscription Secretary. The cost is £130 per year. This can be paid in total in November (following the AGM), or in equal amounts in November and February, or occasionally you can come to an agreed arrangement with the subs secretary.  If you are studying you can be a member of the Choir for free.

Who sits where?

You sit with your vocal section.  As with any club or society people tend to like to sit in the same place and when singing you get used to the same voices around you, so when joining just ask which seat is free and join in.

Where we perform

We usually perform in the Guildhall on Royal Parade with a full orchestra and soloists who join us for the occasion.  Our 40th birthday concert was performed there, where one of the pieces we sang was Carmina Burana (also performed summer 2014).  We receive great feedback and the experience of performing in that location is pretty special.

Volunteering

The Choir requires the help of all its members to be able to make it work.  We have people who help run refreshments and the book and CD stall; members who help with advertising as well as those who help set up the stage and seating for performance. All of the committee members volunteer their time to help with the running of the choir.  Don’t be afraid to offer your services – you never know how your hidden talents will help the choir, e.g. we have sold Christmas puddings (which were absolutely delicious) and some members have run marathons to help raise funds through sponsorship.  If you’re not that fit, never fear – there are always ways you can help – just speak to a committee member and tell them what you’d like to do to get involved.

AGM

This is held in October on a rehearsal evening and it gives you a chance to hear how we’re doing. We are still able to have a good sing following the AGM.

Advertising Concerts – What can I do?

Well, you can take flyers and posters (both A4 and A5 size) from the table outside the rehearsal room and put them up in work, local shops or give them to friends and family to advertise our future concert. But the best thing to do is sell some tickets!!!!!! Be unashamed at encouraging and coaxing friends, family, neighbours, work colleagues or even total strangers to buy a ticket. Ticket sales are our life-blood, but equally importantly we believe our performances are very good and we want as many people as possible to hear what we can do.

The bar

At the end of the rehearsal, we are able to go upstairs and relax with a well earned beverage in the OPM bar.  This is a great way to meet the other members in a relaxed environment.

Blue Folders

When we perform concerts we use blue folders for our music which can be bought for £7.50.  You do need to get one of these in order to be able to perform.

Concert Uniform

Ladies: you are required to be dressed in black (which is tres chic); ¾-length sleeves at least and long trousers or skirt.  Gents: you’ll need a black tux, white shirt and a black bow-tie.

Trips away with PCC

You can take a summer holiday and go with the Choir and whilst there do a couple of performances.  Each alternate year you’ll be able to go abroad with them. The 2010 trip away was to Cambridge and Ely, 2011 was to Rouen, and 2012 was Norwich, with an additional concert at Ely Cathedral. In 2013 we went to Brittany and in 2014 we visited Liverpool to perform in the Catholic Cathederal. The following summer we journeyed to the La Rochelle region of France. Usually the holiday choir is about 30 strong and partners often come along too as there is also time for sight-seeing and fun.

So there are some pointers to get you started – the main thing is to come along, enjoy yourself and meet new people.