As Ella Fitzgerald said
"The only thing better than singing is more singing"
That makes a pretty good motto for the South Devon Singers.
Teignmouth Community Choir was formed in 2004 as part of the 18-month-long Teign Lifetime Project, which celebrated the science of life and evolution through song and other arts in a dozen concerts, six artists' workshops, numerous songwriting workshops, two public lectures and a website. Our musical director, David Haines, created and managed the Project and has continued to direct the choir ever since. Two years later he also set up the Ivybridge Community Choir, and the two choirs now frequently perform together under the banner of South Devon Singers.
David's work with the MIT Cambridge Science Festival, Massachusetts as the world's first - and so far only - science festival songwriter-in-residence has led to his interviewing top scientists and basing new work on the conversations. Perhaps the most famous of these is Noam Chomsky, but David has also interviewed Nobel Laureate Wolfgang Ketterle on his co-discovery of the Bose-Einstein Condensate, Alan Guth on his Inflationary Universe Theory, and Sara Seager on her work modelling exoplanets from data gathered by astronomers.
Through David's USA work (where he also delivers around 50 collaborative songwriting workshops each spring in all the Cambridge elementary schools), choir members have performed in both Cambridge and Boston, but the South Devon Singers are proud to have done gigs in dozens of venues in Devon and Cornwall over the last nine years, ranging from on board a pleasure boat in the Exe Estuary, to being part of a professional theatre performance with Forkbeard Fantasy (Invisible Bonfires), at a commemorative garden, on a forest walk, at a bird of prey observation point, in theatres and concert halls (including the Hall for Cornwall), in residential homes, a gastro-pub, a hotel, on Babbacombe pier in the middle of winter, at village halls, community centres, churches, schools, and at Exeter Crematorium.
80-90% of the music we sing is written or arranged by our Musical Director, but his style ranges widely from contemporary classical, through ballads and rock, to jazz, folk and "secular gospel". Both choirs are open to all-comers regardless of experience or ability to read music, and the huge variety and range of repertoire we perform each year means that we do generally sing from copies - we simply do too much to learn it all by memory!
These are the things the South Devon Singers choir doesn’t do:
*Expect you to read music
*Insist that you stand up to sing
*Ask you to do choreographed actions
*Reckon you should sing everything from memory
*Perform endless arrangements of old pop songs
*Sing religious music (except some carols at Christmas)
*Sing lots of stuff in foreign languages
*Guilt-trip you for missing rehearsals
*Demand that you take part in performances (we do plenty of them, but participation is always optional)
*Stick to one style - we sing in every style of music you can imagine
These are the things the South Devon Singers choir does do:
*We welcome everybody - all ages, backgrounds, levels of experience (including total beginners).
*We laugh a lot in rehearsals. We laugh when things go wrong, we laugh when things go right, we laugh when the music makes us
*Occasionally someone sheds a tear too. Some of our music is very emotional and heartfelt...
*We challenge ourselves. Some of our music is ‘too difficult’ for a community choir, but we sing it anyway and astonish ourselves
by exceeding our own expectations.
*We also sing simple, tuneful ‘learn-it-in-one-go’ songs - sometimes written by children.
*We befriend and support each other. Many long-lasting, resilient friendships have been forged in our choir, and members are generous in offering lifts, assistance, and emotional support to each other.
*We go out of our way to make people comfortable in the choir whatever their issues or challenges: most of our choir members enjoy good health, but we have or have had members with dementia, cancer, Parkinson’s, dyslexia, speech impediment, arthritis, MS and other mobility problems. Our current chair of trustees is a wheelchair user.
*We provide tutor tracks of nearly all the music we sing, so you can learn and practise at home.
*Where possible we Zoom our rehearsals so you can join in from home if you’re not able to attend.
*We strive to make our rehearsals as COVID-safe as possible.
*We encourage our newbies to come for at least four rehearsals - with no charge - so they can get familiar with our style.
*We have flexible payment schemes. Nobody is turned away because they can’t pay the full fees. You can always speak to us in confidence if you need to pay less. Those who can afford it sometimes choose to pay a little more to support those who might struggle.