Community Group Celebrates Milestone
At a time when reality TV frequently showcases the worst in humanity, it can be hard to imagine someone being inspired to positive action by the medium. But, that’s exactly what happened to Wendy Young as she watched The Choir on BBC Two.
“I was actually watching lives change,” she says of the programme in Royal Greenwich Time newspaper. “I thought the show was wonderful.”
In May 2012 Young founded Woolwich Singers, a not-for-profit community choir based in the South East London district of the same name. On 23rd May this spring they celebrated their one year anniversary with a show at the Woolwich Grand Theatre.
The main goal of the choir is to “sing together, meet new people and have fun,” and Young has made it easy for those itching to raise their voices in song to do so. No one has to audition to join or sing alone in the choir, and they’re open to singers of all competency levels.
Woolwich Singers also hope to help strengthen and foster community spirit by encouraging “the participation of a diverse cross-section of the local community.” They warmly welcome members of varying ages, those with disabilities and different sex, race, sexual orientation, religious beliefs and socio-economic status in an effort to foster “vocal and social harmony.”
The location the Woolwich Grand Theatre occupies was first used as a auditorium that housed drama, musical comedy, opera and variety shows in 1900. The building has been demolished, reconstructed or repurposed several times and gone by many different names, including Woolwich Hippodrome, Grand Theatre & Opera House, Regal Cinema and Flamingos. The space has also been used as a cinema and nightclub at times.
Now considered a multi-purpose arts centre, the facility boasts a cinema with surround sound, an intimate club space for live music and comedy and a bar and café. Plans are also in the works for six artists’ studios or workshops on the premises and roller disco events for families in the main hall.
The choir promoted the concert through Facebook, Twitter, their group website and word of mouth. The assembled crowd was treated to their mix of traditional and pop songs, including “Make You Feel My Love,” “Mamma Mia” and “Puttin’ on the Ritz.”
They were joined by the University of Greenwich Swing Band playing swing and jazz favourites, and dancers from Greenwich Dance. The occasion even was auspicious enough for the Mayor of Royal Greenwich, Cllr Angela Cornforth, to attend and address the audience.
Young is glad they were able to raise awareness of the choir through such a memorable evening. She says planning the event really energised her.
“[The organisation of our concert was] exhilarating and rewarding, bringing so many members of the local community together in song and music. [Those looking to plan something similar should] just do it!”