Thank you for your interest in West End Singers! Here you’ll find the answers to your questions about the choir and the way things are organised. Please take some time to read it through and let us know if you need to know anything else. WES is a friendly and supportive group and we hope to make things as easy as possible.
We rehearse all year round, meeting every Wednesday evening at the 2000 Centre in St John’s Rd, Hedge End, though we have a break from rehearsals in the summer and again at Christmas.
Our rehearsals start at 7.30pm and we generally finish at 10.00pm, but occasionally, particularly in the run up to a concert, we may rehearse slightly past this time. We also have to put things away and choir members help with this. Rest assured we do have a 15 minute break for tea or coffee at 8.45pm. Drinks can be bought for 40p and we always have biscuits… and often cake!
We do ask members to attend rehearsals regularly and consistently. There are a number of reasons for this! The major reason why people join West End Singers is to have fun singing together; we are always working towards the next performance, learning and polishing new numbers, revising favourites; and our weekly rehearsal is where we do that. All concerts and singouts are just the icing on the cake; we can’t give the accomplished and energetic performances for which we’re so well-known without everyone’s working together week by week. It’s also extremely difficult for our MD Simon to plan a useful rehearsal schedule if rehearsals are poorly attended.
To help with this planning, there’s a list for you to sign to notify us of any planned absences (holidays, work commitments etc). Please let someone know about unplanned absences (e.g. traffic!), otherwise we are apt to worry! If your circumstances change and you need to take a longer break from WES, you just need to discuss this with Simon. For most of us, Wednesday evening simply becomes “choir night” when we have fun singing together and we really miss it when we can’t be there.
Another important commitment for all members is to our main concert performances – dates for these are publicised well in advance and we ask that you take account of them when planning holidays. We always aim to perform with a full choir, mainly because this is so much fun, but also because it sounds so good when the whole choir sings! However we understand that this isn’t always possible and therefore we rely on members to let us know as soon as possible if they will be unavailable.
A key thing to know about our performances is the fact that we always sing from memory! Not having our heads in musical scores means we can communicate better with our audiences and, extremely importantly, with our MD. Simon is a great conductor whose enthusiasm brings out the best in our performances. Please let us know if you might find this difficult – we can certainly provide any number of “handy hints” and suggestions which might make things easier. We also provide MP3 files of your line, especially useful for people who learn by listening rather than by reading music. We all feel really proud of learning our music in this way and we get a great sense of achievement from it!
If you’re thinking of joining us, the first step to take is to contact our Membership Secretary (email@example.com) and arrange to visit one Wednesday evening. You’ll get the chance to sit in with the choir and take part in a full rehearsal and chat with choir members in the tea break. That way you can really get a feel of how things work. Next, you would need to attend for a voice test. Please don’t be alarmed at this notion! The voice test is not a big public event; it’s quite informal and involves your singing for Simon and a small panel of volunteers (never more than 4) from the choir. You don’t have to be able to read music and this isn’t tested. Simply put, you’ll get the chance to sing a song of your choice – if you can bring the sheet music that’s great, but not essential. Simon will also want to hear your vocal range to help him to decide which section of the choir would best suit your voice. Again, nothing to worry about – he might simply ask you to sing some scales. You’ll be informed of the result promptly, generally the next day.
All members pay a monthly subscription. This is currently £20, paid in advance by Standing Order on the 1st of each month. Student rates are available on application. We’d like you to know what this money is used for – so here’s a list!
- Hire of hall for rehearsals and performances
- Fees for MD and accompanists
- Music – we buy this and lend it out to all members
- Storage of our staging and other equipment
- Purchasing new equipment as required
- Insurance – including Public Liability, which we’re obliged to have
- Publicity for our concerts
Our choir colour is purple. Rough cost of a uniform ranges from £50-£60 for ladies and £10-£15 for men depending on whether the items are new or second-hand. Men are also asked to provide a black suit and white shirt – further information when you join. We provide polo shirts for more informal events.
WES is occasionally filmed or recorded for publicity or advertising purposes, such as on our website, YouTube, Twitter and Facebook. You’ll be asked to sign to give your consent for this to happen without being consulted on each occasion.
If you want to know more or have any questions, please do get in touch with us.