Nowadays as soon as you mention “ladies choir” most people imagine the Military Wives, largely because of their popularity and celebrity status afforded by the television. The typical alternative to “The Wives” is a vision of grey hair shuffling onto the stage in long black dresses clutching folders ready to sing an entire oratorio for the next 2 hours. If you fall into one of these two camps, then prepare to welcome something entirely new. The Pewsey Belles, under the direction of Choirmaster Jules Addison have virtually re-invented the concept of what a Ladies Choir should be about.
Welcome on stage 45 ladies in a vision of black and pink. The show started with a single voice singing, from just off stage, the opening of “I Dreamed a Dream” from Les Miserables. As the choir joined in the benefit of the Abbey’s fantastic acoustic was quickly apparent.
As the concert developed it soon became apparent that the evening was more than just a Ladies choir singing. The evening was a huge variety of songs and included 2 solo’s, a trio, and songs from the Pewsey Bellettes which is a ladies barbershop group. No outside singers were brought in on this occasion which shows once again just how much talent there is amongst this group of 45 ladies.
Rehearsing in Amesbury Abbey
The standing ovation at the end of the concert was testimony to the quality of the performance and shows how far the choir has come in the last 3 years.
If you would like the Pewsey Belles to put on an event at your church or local event then please contact the choirmaster.
Last Saturday the Pewsey Belles took part in a fundraising concert for Oare Primary School. The choir has an increasing number of members who have children at Oare Primary and as such felt it was a very important event to attend.
The concert started with “Look at the World” by John Rutter which our choirmaster, Jules Addison, had arranged so that it could be sung jointly by pupils at Oare School as well as the Pewsey Belles. This was of course very popular with the parents (who made up a lot of the audience) and the children sang extremely well.
There were then a number of songs from the Pewsey Belles which included:
Over the Rainbow – Harold Arlen (Soloist – Harriet McCullough)
Can you Feel the Love Tonight – Elton John (from the Lion King)
I dreamed a dream – Claude-Michel Schonberg (from Les Miserables)
Adiemus: Songs of Sanctuary (Karl Jenkins)
Make You Feel my Love – Bob Dylan
The Rose – Amanda Broom
Somewhere Out There – James Horner (from An American Tail)
Irish Blessing (Bob Chilcott)
Say a Little Prayer – Burt Bacharach
Time to Say Goodbye – Francesco Sartori
The evening was a great success and from donations at the end raised a total of £600 towards the Oare Primary School Buildings appeal.
December was a very busy month for the Pewsey Belles this year. In addition to the Burbage Christmas tree fair discussed in a previous post the ladies were out carol singing in Pewsey, Marlborough and Corsham. Christmas is traditionally a time for giving and one my favourite events of the year is when we gather to sing Christmas Carols in the centre of Pewsey on the last shopping day before Christmas.
Typically it always rains but nevertheless about 30 of the ladies huddled together outside the co-op in Pewsey to sing carols in order to raise money for a Defibrillator in Woodbridge which is something being run by the local butchers in Pewsey. I’m delighted to report that in just over an hour the ladies raised nearly £300 for this extremely worthy cause. Interestingly enough it was “Oh Holy Night” which seemed to always raise the most cash!
The ladies also appeared at Hartham Park in Corsham for their annual carol concert to the local businesses as well as singing in Marlborough and at the Methodist Church in Pewsey. All in all, a very busy month. Well done everyone.
Saturday 7th December 2013 saw the Belles out singing Carols including John Rutter’s Colours of Christmas, Candlelight Carol, Christmas Lullaby and a variety of songs at the Burbage Christmas Tree Sale. 25 members of the choir were able to attend and provide two sessions to the punters. It was a fabulous setting with the Church in the background, the smell of Christmas Trees, the sound of children laughing and some wonderful stalls all selling their wares producing a “Christmassy” atmosphere.
Singing outside always presents problems – will the crowd hear us, will the music go flying, will the weather be kind etc. The music did go flying but Jules in his implicit professional manner continued to play and conduct us all through the event effortlessly. The ladies were more than a little chilly but that was to be expected and the coffee served during the half time break was very welcome.
Overall the event was a great success and the choir were delighted to receive this email from the organiser George Gordon:-
Hi Jules I would like to thank the Pewsey Belles and yourself for a fantastic performance on Saturday. I had masses of feedback over the weekend from those who saw you sing and loved the sound you were making. Typical comments were that live music and the presence of a choir really added to the atmosphere of our sale and people felt your sound started their Christmas season in style and got them in a festive mood. A few musically talented people present also commented to me that they were impressed by the standard of the Pewsey Belles. Generally, the feeling was that it was a hugely positive addition to our record breaking event this year and we would like to invite you to sing again next year on Saturday 6th December 2014 when we are holding our 20th anniversary sale. Please pass on the thanks from our organising committee and all those who heard you sing to the choir. Kind regards George Gordon Organiser, Burbage Christmas Tree Sale
How lovely is that? So another event has been added to the 2014 calendar and we are delighted to have been asked to perform again.
Christmas season for the choir has started and this is an opportune moment to wish all our followers a very Merry Christmas! Have a wonderful festive season and here’s to 2014.
Over the past few months I have been involved in recording and producing a compilation album featuring some of Bath’s best Community groups. One of the choirs featured on the CD is the Bath Community Gospel Choir which is run and directed by Jo Sercombe. I’d heard of Jo’s work and enviable reputation before this, but until this time never seen her in action. I was really impressed with the way she directed her choir for the recording session and, knowing she also ran choral workshops, this gave me the idea of putting together a workshop for the Pewsey Belles.
This idea came to fruition on Saturday when Jo came over to Pewsey to run a workshop for the Pewsey Belles. Part of the aim was to give the ladies an experience of someone else directing the choir as well as providing them with some basic vocal coaching, bearing in mind we have a wide range of musical experience within the choir. As with all our choir events, it was also a chance for the ladies to get together outside of the normal routine of choir practice.
I felt that Jo got the balance spot on providing something for everyone. The day started with an exploration of various different warm up ideas, presented in such a way as to capture everyones attention. In amongst the fun aspect of the exercises, Jo provided plenty of explanation as to the purpose of the warmups and how they helped to improve the voice and ultimately produce a better sound. There was also a lot of emphasis on breath control teaching the ladies how to take little sips of breath and use them for best advantage when singing.
Later on Jo taught the ladies an entire song in 4 parts without music with the aim of bringing the choir together and encouraging people to listen to the other parts in order to produce a balanced sound. This part of the day also covered other vocal techniques as well as help pitching notes with a greater degree of accuracy.
For my part, I really enjoyed not only seeing Jo work with the ladies but actually the chance to sit in amongst the choir and listen to them sing. I thought Jo did a fantastic job and I have had nothing but postive feedback for her. The plan is to run another workshop next year to look at other aspects of singing.
Last night 21 members of the Pewsey Belles sang during the wedding reception for Julie and Francis’ Wedding in Wootton Rivers Church.
Pewsey Belles in Wootton Rivers Church
The ladies sang four songs and given we were asked to provide “background music” whilst the wedding guests had dinner I had advised the ladies not to expect any applause. However, we in fact received cheers and a standing ovation, so much so that an encore was insisted upon!
The songs we sang were:
Can you Feel the Love Tonight
Fly me to the Moon
I Say a little Prayer for You
Over the Rainbow (with a fabulous solo by Harriet)
After the concert I was fortunate enough to be invited to partake in dinner (perks of being the choirmaster!). Amongst the many compliments I received for the choir, I was asked if we were a professional choir who had come down from London. When I pointed out that in fact the Pewsey Belles is an un-auditioned choir based a few miles up the road in a small Wiltshire town they were amazed!
Yesterday the Pewsey Belles sang at the Wedding of Holly Dunton to her, now husband, David. This was a special wedding for us as Holly’s mother Alison sings with the Belles, although on this occasion we did allow her time off so she could spend the day as Mother of the Bride!!
We had a good turnout from the Belles, with most of the choir in attendance. As well as leading the singing during the three hymns, the choir sang ‘Love Divine’ by Howard Goodall and ‘The Rose’ whilst the register was being signed.
If you would like to find out how to hire the Pewsey Belles to sing at your wedding or other special occasion then please contact the choirmaster on 07855 275353 or email us via the contact form.
It’s always a privilege to be invited to sing at a family event such as a wedding or christening. That privilege is all the more so when the service in question is for “one of us”. Well this is exactly what happened on Sunday when we were invited to sing at the christening of Molly & Thomas Turner, who’s Mum, Lucy, is one of our fabulous altos.
The service took place at the small Parish Church in Milton Lilbourne, near Pewsey in Wiltshire. The Belles were asked to sing 3 pieces of music. John Rutter’s “For the beauty of the earth” was up first at Lucy’s request. I personally rate John Rutter as one of the finest living English composers and this piece is an excellent example of how accessible his music is for such occasions. We followed this later in the service with “The Rose” which was probably my influence because the ladies sing it so beautifully. That, and they sang it at the request of my wife at our wedding last year.
We ended with Eva Cassidy’s version of “Over the rainbow” chosen by Molly. For a 5 year old she has excellent musical taste! It was very touching to see Molly come and stand with her Mum whilst the Belles sang for her.
All in all we had a fabulous time and were honoured to be part of this special occasion. We would like to thank Lucy & Nick for inviting us to join in their celebration and hope they enjoyed our singing as much as we did!
The Pewsey Belles next public performance will be at the Bouverie Hall in Pewsey on 16 March 2013. Further details will be available soon.
The much anticipated service to celebrate the Diamond Jubilee of her Majesty The Queen which should have been held on Martinsell Hill on Sunday 29th April 2012 had to change venue at the last minute due to the horrendous weather experienced over the weekend. The ground at the hill was waterlogged and therefore, quite rightly, it was unable to take place there. With many emails flying around between committees, choirs and the band we were able to move the event to St. John the Baptist Church in Pewsey. Due to the restricted area around the church The Ven. Stephen Robbins, CB, was unable to arrive by helicopter which would have been quite something! Undeterred and with good community spirit the service took place, perhaps not to as large a congregation as had been hoped, but nevertheless there was a good turnout.
Thanks must be given to John & Caroline Cornell whose vision it was to hold the event as well as their committee, who although disappointed it couldn’t be held on Martinsell Hill should be delighted with how it all came together. I am sure the congregation, choirs & the band were delighted we didn’t end up “Singing In The Rain”.
Pewsey Belles were delighted to be at Jules & Elizabeth’s wedding yesterday – 14th April 2012 held at St Mary The Virgin Church, Bathwick, Bath. We set off from Pewsey at 9.00am on the coach which gave us a good hour to go through the songs Jules had chosen and especially “The Rose” which Elizabeth had specifically requested.
The church setting was wonderful and although it was a cold day, with drizzle, the
Jules & Elizabeth's Wedding - 14.04.12
atmosphere inside was jubilant. The ceremony started with the St Edmund’s School Chamber Choir singing “Love Divine “exquisitely, accompanied on the piano by Jules. It’s not often you see the groom playing the piano at his own wedding! Perhaps it helped calm his nerves! Elizabeth walked down the aisle to a wonderful Fanfare & March written by Jules himself, looking every inch the beautiful bride.
The Rev’d David Prothero gave a light hearted amusing sermon, followed by the registration during which the choirs of St Mary’s, Bathwick & All Saints, Chalfield sang the anthem “Blessed be the God and Father”. All too soon the ceremony was over and it was time for Mr & Mrs Addison to walk back down the aisle. Needless to say all the Pewsey Belles were very proud of our Jules.
Whilst the bride and groom were having photos taken outside us girls went to get ready in the adjoining Church Hall where a champagne reception had been set up. Butterflies were creeping in as we knew our moment was soon to be. Jules in his usual laid back way came up to us and said “let’s go with The Rose”. He played the piano as we sang to Elizabeth who shed more than a little tear. We only hoped that the tears were of joy rather than us ruining the song! She said it was beautiful so that was all that mattered. We sang a further 4 songs throughout the next half hour and even had to repeat “Somewhere Over The Rainbow “for one of the little bridesmaids. Watching Jules conduct with one hand whilst eating a cupcake with the other was highly amusing! He informed us that he received lots of compliments on the choir and he should be very proud (as we all are) of what he has achieved with us ladies in one year.
As the guests moved on to the Bath Spa Hotel for lunch the Pewsey Belles were back on the coach to Pewsey having thoroughly enjoyed being part of Jules & Elizabeth’s wedding.
Paul and I were invited to the cutting of the cake and afternoon tea which was delightful. Beautifully dressed flower arrangements by Inspired adorned each table, neatly trimmed sandwiches, slices of cake, fruit tartlets, scones with jam and cream were presented to each table with tea and coffee. The sounds of Tom Bott’s High Society Orchestra filled the room – a truly quintessential tea dance which is only fitting for Jules who loves his tea and cakes!
The moment came for the first dance and Jules & Elizabeth took to the floor striking a strictly come dancing pose and with the orchestra playing “A Nightingale Sang In Berkeley Square” they glided around the floor to lots of ooohs and aaahs. A perfect end to a perfect day and soon after they disappeared on their mini-moon for a couple of days before Elizabeth returns to school. I’m sure she is looking forward to hearing a resounding “Good Morning Mrs Addison”!
The Big Red Bus
Pewsey Belles In Action
The Happy Couple
Congratulations once again to you both and all of the Pewsey Belles wish you lots of happiness for many years to come.