|Why not come and have a go at singing with GEM Connection.|
Our Taster session is a free night and open to anyone who wants to have a chance to sing in 4 part harmony.
It's at our regular rehearsal venue
Kirk Hallam Social Bar, Dallimore Road DE7 4GZ
See you there!
|Tickets are selling fast, don't miss out!|
Buy your tickets now by clicking on this link
or contact Maralyn on 01332 761394 / 07917312281
|On the evening of the 9th May 2023 it was GEM Connections 25th Anniversary celebration party. Held at our current rehearsal venue, The Kirk Hallam Social Club.|
The evening was attended by the current lineup of GEMs as well as many GEMs from the past. It was so great to see everyone and catch up with ladies we hadn’t seen for a while. The evening started with a great introduction by Rachael Murphy which showed how many people have been involved in the running of the chorus.
Then it was time to sing! The risers were packed with sparkly GEMs past and present, and the sound was amazing. I am sure the trip down memory lane by the GEMs who hadn’t sung for a while and reminded them how fantastic it is to sing as part of a large group.
Next, there was a GEM quiz. The room was spilt into four groups, Purple Haze, Phoebe’s fans, Mostly crusties and last but not least Men Aloud which included the husbands and son of some of our members. There were some great questions about GEM over the 25 years alongside factoids and memories which made the room erupt into laughter.
The evening would not have been complete without refreshments, including delicious sandwiches and of course CAKE, lots of CAKE!!!!
There was a great raffle which raised over £90, before more singing of old and new songs sung by everyone. Then the evening rounded off with one of our latest songs by the current GEMs, Bridge over troubled water.
Thank you to the team who organised the evening to truly celebrate in style, sparkles and smiley memories.
And a big thankyou to all our guests, GEMs from the past 25 years, who made the evening so special.
more photos to follow
Gem Connection were thrilled to be invited to act as a small chorus to support the Director Stream at Harmony College.
We descended on the campus on the Saturday afternoon and made our way to our designated area.
After a brief warm up the sessions began and during the afternoon around 30 very brave ladies took to the helm to direct the Mini Gems under the guidance of Jo Braham, Debbie Cox and Liz Garnett.
Each delegate chose one of the four polecat songs we were asked to sing and then were asked to direct us through the first couple of pages.
We were asked to give them feed back as to how we felt they’d delivered. It was interesting to see so many different styles of conducting during the afternoon.
We had an amazing day with everyone and had plenty of laughs, received hints and techniques from our three fabulous director coaches and made lots of new friends along the way.
Thanks and well done to all the ladies who braved the stage in front of us, you were all truly amazing.
Gem Connection can now safely say that we are fully confident with the start of “Anthem” You Gotta Be “and “With a Little Help From My Friends”
The Photo attached shows Gem Connection with the last group of delegates and Liz Garnet.
I can’t believe it has been 4 years since GEMs trip to Calpe Spain for the SABS International competition.
Back then as a new member of GEM it was my first trip with this lovely chorus. I had heard so much about previous trips and the great adventure and laughs that the group had.
Our package for this competition was Calamity Jane (version 1), later this would evolve into a musical theatre production for LABBS competition, but for now we had a medley of songs based around the film; written by our talented Musical Director at the time, Heather Lane. Choreography of course was added by our one and only Rachael Murphy and we had coaching from Theresa Weatherbee to bring the moves together and create the energy and excitement.
We were all excited as we gathered at East Midlands Airport and of course that meant singing a few songs before departure. GEM never passes up an opportunity to sing in public!
The competition was a first for a few of the Gemmettes, so nerves were showing as we waited for our slot in the competition. Rachael and the music team did a fabulous job of keeping us calm and letting us know there was no pressure, just have fun!
It went in a flash and we all said “can we do it again”? It was a real adrenaline rush, and was certainly going to be a memory I would cherish for ever. We then all settled in the auditorium to hear the rest of contest, then had a break for some gorgeous Spanish air, before we went back for the results. We couldn’t imagine the joy when we were announced as the SILVER medal winners. Everyone jumped out of their seats and were crying and hugging each other. Rachael and Heather went up to collect the trophy before bringing it back to us. We are all told to smile when we sing but I can safely say no prompts were needed on this occasion. I think the smiles lasted for weeks afterward. We were all so proud of each other. This also meant we were featured in the winners show that evening, so our wish to “do it all again” came true.
The evening came so quickly with my first experience of an “afterglow”. I was blown away. The whole venue was vibrating with beautiful singing from quartets to full choruses, mingling and singing together. It was a sight and sound which created so much energy and love. I truly got what it is to be part of the Barbershop Family.
Our trip finished off with us putting on a show at the local outdoor amphitheatre in Calpe old town. We couldn’t have wished for a more beautiful day. The white backdrop against a deep blue sky was a picture perfect setting, and of course we got to sing again to an audience.
We also had a trip to a local traditional village Altea, again picture perfect and a lovely square to sing to people sitting outside at the restaurants and bars. We even made it into a local guide as there was a photographer who just happened to be there.
So four years on it is now time to return the trophy, for the next SABS competition which starts on the 14th April 2023. One of our GEMs, Delyth, will be back in Calpe with a mixed chorus and a quartet to return our trophy. We wish everyone passing over the stage good luck and we know they will have a blast.
|For more information, see:||https://www.sabs.es/cm2/conventions/convention-2019/international-contest-results-2/|
|On Thursday the 30th March GEM welcomed back our lovely performance coach Theresa Weatherbee. After the past few years only being able to connect on zoom, it was so great to be able to finally be back on the risers to receive some powerful coaching sessions again.|
Over the years Theresa has helped us stage our competition packages and show sets. With our 25th Anniversary show coming up, she helped us find our sparkle again so we can truly shine.
Since being a member of GEM, I have learnt so much from so many people. The first time I saw GEM was on a ‘Love to Sing’ course, and I never imagined I would ever be a part of such a talented group of ladies. I had never sung before or even performed on the stage. It was soon clear that GEM were a hard working focussed chorus, and they invest in the best teachers and mentors. From singing to performance there is so much support. Because of GEM I now have an amazing hobby which I love and can share with so many.
Theresa is one of the most respected performance coaches in the Barbershop world, from singing, to judging and of course coaching and passing on her vast knowledge.
After our catch-up session on the Thursday rehearsal, it was time to spend the weekend developing our performance skills and applying them to our new convention package for LABBS this year.
It is always an intense experience and the connection that Rachael and Theresa have is fantastic. We can all definitely say we are excited to have such a fun packed year ahead.
The dedication and hard work of every GEM is rewarded with so much fun and laughter. If you think you might have what it takes to be part of a competing Barbershop Chorus, get in touch to find out more.
|Through the lens - Dress committee|
GEM isn’t just about singing! Our dress committee works hard on our image behind the scenes.
Zoe and Tina are our current dress committee and have been helped in the past by many talented GEM’s. We are blessed with many skilled, arty people who can do dressmaking and are also able to make fantastic props. The best of these was our spectacular ‘Calamity Jane’ package for LABBS convention in 2019. This was probably the most intricate staging we have done in recent years, but was an incredible experience to all have a different character to play and a bespoke outfit.
Each Convention brings a new challenge to select outfits that fit the theme of the package, and this year is no different, so the team are busy as usual. The dress committee liaise with the performance team to ensure the complete look and feel is achieved.
In addition to the outfits and props, the team ensures that makeup and hair meet the target look, whether it is a ‘package’ or a ‘walk out’ event. Guidelines on the stage makeup required are conveyed through videos, crib sheets or one to one help for new members and anyone not confident in using makeup. Stage makeup can be a great unknown for new members joining us, but help is always on hand to achieve the right amount and style. Our ‘Cabaret’ for instance is challenging as it needs to have a very doll like quality, being bright and brash as it was in the film.
We have a few different ‘Walk Out’ outfits used for events when we want to portray our GEM brand. Our latest is a navy branded T shirt which also shows which part we sing and looks great when we are all together. We complete the look with a Purple branded hoody and a GEM scarf.
For other concerts we sometimes wear all black which is complemented with a gorgeous handmade corsage, in various colours, which have been made by Tina.
Over the years we have had many different coloured T shirts and this has ended up with our lovely ‘Sweet Pea” look, which is useful for trips and convention days when we all meet for breakfast or are on trips. It gives everyone chance to pick a pastel colour from the selection. When new GEMs join they get to select as many colours as they can from what is available.
If you think you have what it takes to sing and perform as a GEM, why not get in touch and come along and see for yourself?
Or if you want to see us in our stage outfits then our next show is on 10th June 2023, don’t miss it!
|World Music Therapy Day 1 March 2023|
What is music therapy?
Music therapy is a powerful tool that helps people deal with a range of issues, but you don’t need to be in therapy to reap the benefits.
Singing in a choir or chorus will help in the same way as therapy. Music has powerful effects on the mind, changing your mood and emotions which in turn positively effects your mental health.
The way music affects the brain is very complex. All aspects of music including pitch, tempo, and melody are processed by different areas of the brain. The reward centre of the brain, called the nucleus accumbens, can even produce strong physical signs of pleasure, such as goosebumps, when it hears powerful music.
Learning and practicing a piece of music can improve memory skills, coordination, reading, comprehension, and maths skills. It goes without saying people get a lot of enjoyment and a great sense of achievement when a song comes together. The wider benefits can be, improved self-esteem and motivation, decreased anxiety, and stronger connections with other people.
GEM connection are not just a bunch of ladies singing together. We are a close family of friends who help each other through music to live life to the full.
If you would like to hear our amazing music, why not come along to our 25th Anniversary show on 10th June 2023. Or if you would like to know more about how you become a GEM yourself, please get in contact.
On Friday 24th Feb 2023 GEM hosted a fundraising Fashion Show at Sawley Community Centre. It was a great social evening and fundraiser.
The room was buzzing with GEMs and friends and family who were all looking for bargains. They weren’t disappointed.
“Blue Sky Fashion Shows” ran the event which was well organised. The evening comprised of the model making her way around the hall wearing each outfit and helpers taking samples around so everyone could have a feel of the quality of the garments. We were told the fashion label and high street price before the special price for the event was announced.
The first garment was only £3.99 and there was a wide range of brands available with knockdown prices going up to £15 per garment. These prices were massively reduced and some items sold better than others. Payment was taken on each item as it was sold or noted on a tab which was paid by card at the end to make it easier.
Everyone was then able to try on the garments before deciding whether to keep it or take it back at the end for a refund. So there was no risk of ending up with items they didn’t want.
Coffee, tea and cakes were served by Anne and Berni throughout the night. Thanks go to GEMs that baked the delicious cakes. There was also a fabulous raffle with lots of great prizes including chocolate, a fashion voucher and gardening items.
The evening rounded off with a great sing out of two of our favourite songs, “Bohemian Rhapsody” and “I can’t keep it in”.
Over £600 was raised which was a great outcome and another success for our dynamic duo Fundraising Team of George & Anne.
|For more information, see:||www,blueskyfashionshows.co.uk|
|Craig Kehoe Coaching Day|
On Sunday 19th February we spent a magical day with the amazing Craig Kehoe.
Craig is the Musical Director for Bristol Fashion Chorus and The Bristol Mix as well as being a qualified singing judge for the Ladies Association of British Barbershop Singers.
What an amazing day we had. Whenever we have a coaching day we are always blown away by the improvement we all make in a few hours.
Craig focuses on singing skills and always comes with new tips and tricks to improve ‘The GEM Sound’. It is amazing how much you can learn in one day. The whole day was dedicated to one song which sounds like hard work, and it was, but by the end of the coaching our MD Rachael Murphy was jumping up and down with joy at the progress we made.
We have lots more fun coaching sessions to come this year and are all fired up to grow and learn as a chorus.
Thank you Craig & Rachael
If anyone is interested in finding out how to join us and be part of our incredible journey, contact us for more information. You won’t be disappointed!
|On Friday the 3rd February our fundraising games night was back by popular demand.|
Held at Kirk Hallam Social Club where we have our rehearsals, the function room is perfect for a night of fun. The friendly staff at the bar were there to serve GEMs and locals and there were cobs for those who felt a bit peckish.
The night consisted of various games including Bingo, Sticky 13 (card game), Open the box as well as an added extra quickfire quiz, the Soap Award!
There was a fantastic total prize fund of £255 which was well received by everyone.
Watch out for the next one so you don’t miss out.
They are on Friday nights between 7.30 and 10.30 but don’t worry if you can’t get there for 7.30, you can pick and mix what games you join in with.
Thanks as always goes to Anne and George for organising this great fundraiser.
A note from the pitch piper
We sing with GEM Connection and we’ve got a job to do
we have to play the pitch pipe to start the songs for you.
As Rachael turns around to us, we give you all the pitch,
and we really hope that everything goes without a hitch
We remember all the starting notes and pray we get them right,
but we want to say we’re sorry, when we give you all a fright!
Sometimes we may differ at the start of a song,
so once again we’re sorry if we get the pitch note wrong.
Is she going to stop us?Ccan we put the pitch away?
We get our pocket ready just in case there’s no delay.
But as Rachael brings us all in, she decides to stop the show,
there’s no wonder that the pitch pipe battery’s always running low.
As we get past the first line, we think we’re doing well,
Rachael looks quite happy, that look we all can tell.
The pitch is in our pocket and we’re halfway through the song,
Was that the Bass or Bari’s who just got the last bit wrong?
“Come now” says Rachael I want you all to see,
that is the bit where we’re supposed to change the key.
So out comes the pitch pipe and we do it all once more.
The next time it happens, we’re heading out the bloomin’ door!
Just before we end our note, we’d like to say to you,
please give a thought to both of us, no matter what we do.
With all the songs we know now, the pitch notes, there’s loads of them,
But we are proud to be your Pitch Pipers, who start your songs in GEM.
|Many people think of men in striped blazers with straw hats on when they think about Barbershop music. I know I did when I received a Christmas present for a GEM six week course to learn how to sing with this amazing Barbershop Harmony Chorus.|
How wrong was I !!!
Barbershop singing has likely existed as an art form since the 1700s, but American barbershop music enjoyed a notable wave of popularity in the mid-twentieth century. Samuel Pepys, a seventeenth-century English politician described Barbershop as the era where social gathering spots were popular, a tradition that continues into the present day.
This is definitely true of GEM Connection; we are a very social bunch and when we go on trips are always looking for steps or a spot to gather and burst into song.
We sing in four part harmony which are made up of
We sing a cappella, or without instrumental accompaniment, using these four parts to produce ringing chords and powerful overtones (typically octaves and fifths). This will sound very technical so some, and I thought that to start with, but there is nothing to fear. To more experienced singers this may sound like a new challenge.
GEM are part of LABBS Ladies Association of Barbershop Singers who have over 50 Choruses registered with thousands of members. Each year there is a convention packed full of competition from quartets to the full choruses; and is a fabulous event so show off the arrangements GEM have been working hard on during the year.
So if you think you have what it takes to become a beautiful Barbershopper please get in touch and come along to hear for yourself.
|Come and join the fun|
|And just like that it was 2023|
Christmas and New Year went in a flash!
So now on to an exciting new year with lots in store.
This year is our Silver Anniversary and we will be celebrating with a dazzling show on 10th June 2023 so please save the date.
We will also be back competing at LABBS Convention in Harrogate which starts on 27th October in Harrogate.
So we were back on the risers ready to work hard on our convention package as soon as we had finished our physical warm up.
If you would like to know more about us, or think you have what it takes to become a GEM, please get in touch and come and visit us.
|For more information, see:||www.gemconnection.org/dbpage.php?pg=visit|
|GEM Connection is more than singing, we are a family.|
For the past 25 years, we (GEM) have arranged a Christmas walk, usually a few days after Christmas Day.
This year we decided to dedicate the walk to Brenda , a much loved member of our Bari section, who sadly died of Covid 2 years ago.
The walk took place at Shipley Park. With partners and of course our lovely dogs, it was great to walk off the excess of Christmas.
Brenda loved this walk especially through the wood. We now affectionately refer to this as ‘Brenda’s wood’.
|Follwing our Christmas collection and fundraising we are proud to announce we raised £466.91 for our chosen charity Ovacome.|
|For more information, see:||www.ovacome.org.uk|
|To round the year off GEM were invited for a Sing Out at Derby Market place on Sunday 18th December.|
t was a cold soggy day but that didn’t dampen spirts as we’ Jingle Rocked’ whoever was passing. Donations boxes were kindly passed around to finish off the collection for our Christmas charity Ovacome.
Eventually we ended up singing in the sparkly Christmas present, very apt for sparkly GEMs, before we had a group hug and left with season’s greetings for everyone.
|The annual AGM took place on 15th December at Kirk Hallam, where we sang a few songs before getting down to business. We also now have a new GEMette who joins us at this exciting time.|
We have also gained another three GEMs after the Christmas Concert, so we finish 2022 on a high.
There were reports as usual from the Exec and Music team summing up a successful year where we reconnected, rediscovered and reimagined! And then it was time for the BIG reveal of the 2023 Convention package. Although this year was great to get us back on track, we are all really looking forward to competing again.
Our usual Christmas AGM celebration also included tea, coffee mince pies and of course cake and time to reminisce about all the challenges and highlights of the year.
The new Exec was then voted in and finally the BOTY award for Barbershoper of the Year was presented.
So now time for 2023 and all the exciting things we have planned.
If you would like to find out how to become part of the GEM family, please get in touch.
|Congratulations to Dawn, Helen and Emily who graduated from GEMettes to Sparkly GEMs and got presented with their jewelled GEM badges after the Grand Central concert.|
They have worked so hard during the year to learn and perform the songs for the show and we are all looking forward to 2023 when we all get to learn our new package for convention together.
If you would like to find out how to become a GEM visit our ‘Sing with us’ page for more information. https://www.gemconnection.org/dbpage.php?pg=visit
|On the 10th December we were invited to sing at the Grand Central Chorus Christmas concert. It was held at Trinity Methodist Church in Long Eaton, and on a cold and frosty evening when football fans were unfortunately watching England go out of the World Cup.|
We however were joining in with the festivities singing two sets. The first included our convention package from Bournemouth this year ‘Maybe this time’ and ‘Next time I love’ and finished with the iconic ‘Bridge over troubled water’. Then it was time to kick of the second half with festive songs and plenty of tinsel, Santa hats and Christmas decorations.
If you would like to know more about our brother chorus, please visit https://www.grandcentralchorus.com/
Finally if you are waiting for our next show, then SAVE THE DATE as we will be celebrating with our Silver Anniversary Show on the 10th June 2023, details to follow.
|The beginning of the festive season for GEM started with the first performance of our new Rockin’ Christmas Medley at our open rehearsal evening; along with other Christmas favourites, tinsel, and mince pies. A great time was had by all and with our lovely audience joining in to sing Silent Night. The raffle was a huge success with the star prize going to Zoe & Charlotte’s Mum who got to conduct GEM, singing 'I can’t keep it in'. What a fantastic job she did, Rachael watch out!|
The evening was dedicated to raising funds for our chosen charity and we will continue to raise funds throughout December. This year we selected Ovacome who are a national UK ovarian cancer charity, focused on providing support to anyone affected by ovarian cancer. For more information, please visit their website https://www.ovacome.org.uk/
GEM also have been collecting items for the local Ilkeston food bank, 'Every One Eats' to hopefully give a little cheer for people who are struggling, you can learn more at https://www.facebook.com/EveryOneEatsIlkeston/
Finally, Oranna has been doing a fantastic job collecting for the Radcliffe RSPCA animal shelter. She has been organising donations of old towels, food and unused toys for cats and dogs. If you would like more information, please visit https://rspca-radcliffe.org.uk/
|Come along to our free rehearsal on the 8th December for some entertainment and food to put you in the Christmas mood. 🎄|
|Come and join us on the Saturday 10th December at 7 pm for a night of festive entertainment. Grand Central Chorus, Gem Connection chorus and Sophie Allen. With a full night of entertainment to gets us all in the Christmas sprit. Tickets on sale information at the bottom of the poster!|
|2022 was the year Barbershopers had been waiting for after all the zoom meetings, masks and hurdles put in the way. What a great celebration to all finally be back at Convention face to face. Meeting up with old friends and reconnecting the GEM family.|
As usual LABBS organised a wonderful weekend with a packed agenda so there was something for everyone. The theme this year was Jubilation to celebrate the Queen's Platinum Jubilee in June.
GEM had decided to be’ Mic Warmers’ this year which meant performing their package before the competition started, to gain a personal evaluation so we had a benchmark to grow from. It was really good to be back on the stage; and performing early meant we got to watch a lot of the competition which was a real bonus.
Lots of memories were made and the bond in the GEM family is stronger than ever!
|What a fabulous Sunday! We welcomed GEMettes back into the fold for the 2022 Be A GEM For A Day - a wonderful thing to be able to do again Our honorary GEMs did a brilliant job on this year's LABBS song, 'You Gotta Be', and got stuck into learning all about this wonderful world of barbershop!|
Thanks to all for coming along, and thanks to the fab team that organised the day, as always....see you next time!
|Now that we can welcome you all back, we're here with another BE A GEM FOR A DAY!|
June 12th will see us take to the risers again with you, to learn about singing in four part harmony, using the awesome pop soul classic 'You Gotta Be' by Des'Ree. Join us for loads of singing, laughs, tea and biscuits on a day that always delivers!
All the details are shown above, and if you have any questions, please do get in touch either via the website or on Facebook - book now and you'll get your learning tracks and welcome pack ready to get stuck in on the day.
We can't wait to see you!
In the words of a member of the bass section that gathered last Thursday evening - "It was wet. It was cold. It was GREAT!"
And so it came to pass that finally, the first shift of number-restricted, socially-distanced, mask-decked GEMs took to the world for the first time since last March! The weather was not our friend, and neither was the last-minute change to the government guidance which meant we couldn't gather indoors. Nevertheless, we did it - we got together, and we sang together!
After a year of Zoom rehearsals, trying to find a new venue after the devastating fire last May at Harrington School, our usual venue, and an awful lot of work by our wonderful Risk Assessment team, we're so happy to have made this first step towards getting the whole GEM family back together and singing for you. Further groups will be getting together in the coming weeks - and all being well, by the end of summer the whole gang will be back to it. See you soon, we hope!!
|Come along to our fourth BE A GEM FOR A DAY event!|
Get a taster of what it's like to sing as part of a 70-strong women's barbershop harmony chorus - we'll take you through what four part harmony is all about, what makes a great barbershop sound, how to make the most of your voice, some great vocal warm ups - and then we'll get to grips with singing a wonderful song from the West End, 'Anthem' from Andrew Lloyd-Webber's 'Chess'. We'll finish the day with a performance for your invited friends and family - and maybe even some GEM repertoire into the bargain.
Sign up now to get hold of all the information including voice tips and all the learning tracks for the song - you can pick from each of the four parts from tenor (the highest, twinkliest notes), lead (most often carries the main melody of the song), baritone (who get all the crunchiest, delicious notes to fill out a chord), and bass (the deepest, most resonant notes)...then start learning the dots ready for when you get on the risers!
Your £25 (just £5 for students!) gets you all the materials, a slap up buffet lunch and drinks, and all the laughs you can handle.
These days are always great fun, and what could be better than treating yourself or a loved one to a harmonious, uplifting gift for Christmas? :)
Drop us a message if you have any questions - we're more than happy to help!
|For more information, see:||www.gemconnection.org/dbpage.php?pg=view&dbase=events&id=101195|
|Well what an astounding time we had in Spain!|
GEM made some wonderful memories last weekend as we jetted off to Calpe in southern Spain to compete at the Spanish Association of Barbershop Singers annual convention. A wonderful trip, fabulously organised by Caroline Joyner at Not Just Travel - we managed to not only cram in competing in the international chorus contest, but also some sightseeing in the beautiful old town of Altea, AND a free show for fellow barbershoppers and the local community at the beautiful amphitheatre at the Opera House in Calpe!
Top that off with a very emotional performance in a beautiful church in Calpe's old town, some sea swimming, debuts from our two newest quartets, a medal for our mixed quartet, several sangrias and some thoroughly entertained hotel guests and that's a recipe for a fantastic trip!
Oh...and did we mention we won the internation silver medal? ;)
Debuting one of our new songs, a medley of Deadwood Stage and Windy City from Calamity Jane, beautifully arranged of course by our very own maestro Heather Lane, our performance went down a storm - we had so many lovely comments from people about how much fun they had watching us. Having fun with the new song (which is only three months old) was our main aim for the trip, showcasing something a bit different - and we never expected to walk away with a medal at all, let alone silver!
It was wonderful sharing the stage with such great choruses and quartets, and huge congratulations to all the medallists - what an honour!
See you next time Calpe :)
P.S. head over to our Facebook page for lots more photos
|It's just three short weeks until we zoom off to sunny Spain to compete in this year's Spanish Association of Barbershop Singers (SABS) convention. We're heading out to Calpe on 4th April to join a whole host of choruses and quartets, both from Spain and across the other global barbershop organisations, |
Not only are we joining in the chorus competition, we're hosting a free public show on the Sunday, before we head back to the UK on Monday 8th!
So not only are we introducing our wonderful new GEMs to the convention experience (with a twist), we're packing in an open air gig in an amphitheatre...another one for the list of fab places we've been lucky to perform.
If you're at the convention, or in and around Calpe (and Altea) that weekend, make sure you find some steps and hang out near them - because you can pretty much guarantee that, at some stage, GEM will be singing on them!
|This past weekend saw our show finally come around - something we've been really excited to show you all!|
The show, which we decided to call New Connections, was a true showcase of the journey GEM has taken over the last couple of years, and the one which we're looking forward to continuing. A show in three acts, we first treated our sellout audience to a few GEM favourites, songs which have been around for a little while but we've always loved to perform. Then, in true theatrical style, Rachael 'EmCee'd' us into our new, extended 'Cabaret' set - with the premiere of 'Money Money' which also saw the debut of our wonderful GEMettes (shown above)!
This was the moment our newest members had been gearing up for, and they performed their socks off in fine style for our audience, which included their family and friends, many of whom had never seen GEM perform before! The GEMettes-no-longer (as they're now fully fledged GEMs) did a fabulous job, and saw us into the third and final part of the show, which heralded another new style for GEM, melding our love of heartfelt, passionate performance with beautiful, accomplished singing.
We were also treated to fantastic performances from Diamond Cut, our 12-piece group, Crown Derby, a mixed quartet made up of two couples from GEM and our great friends Grand Central Chorus, and Sum@elS, a newly formed four-piece from the extended GEM family, who treated the audience to...well...summat else!
Our audience were truly lovely, and very appreciative and supportive - so if you came along, we thank you from the bottom of our hearts, your backing always means so much. And if you didn't come along...we'll see you next time!!
|This month has seen a veritable feast of coaching for our GEMs! |
Our regular performance coach, the wonderful Theresa Weatherbee, made the trip over from Canada to help us work on adding to our 'Cabaret' package. We performed the original two song package at convention last October, coming fourth in the national LABBS chorus competition - a fantastic result that we were all very proud of, and we got so many fabulous comments about our performance! So, we're very happy to say that Heather Lane, tenor extroardinaire and a very in-demand arranger, has added another two songs to the set! We're working on the first of those at the moment, and Theresa has helped us to bring it roaring to life with comedy, characterisation and a whole load of sass. And of course, after a hard day's coaching all Saturday, it's the natural GEM response to go out for a few drinks and a slap up meal...and, of course, some singing! So off we trotted to our favourite haunt, The Butcher's Bar in Long Eaton (thoroughly recommended!).
Add to that a coaching session from Sally Maclean, our fab vocal coach and legend of the barbershop world, to brush up on some of our regular repertoire songs (old favourites and new additions) ready for our show in November.
It's been a great opportunity for our new GEMettes to get some world-class coaching and really delve into our songs - songs they're doing a fantastic job of learning very quickly ready to showcase to you!
So if you want to see the fruits of our labours for yourselves, and be treated to a great night's entertainment from across the GEM family, click on the big blue banner on the homepage and get your tickets for 'New Connections' - we'd love to see you there!
|The association to which we belong (Ladies' Association of British Barbershop Singers) is a national body of 55 women's choruses from right across the country - and we were delighted to host one of their recent regional education days!|
Our director Rachael and music judge and arranger extraordinaire Heather compered a fantastic day of warm ups, tags and working on this year's LABBS polecat (a song the whole organisation learns each year so we can all sing in a 2000+ strong chorus when we get together at convention) - 'Anthem' from the musical 'Chess'. It's a great rousing number, and now knowing what it sounds like with a chorus of around 120, it's going to be amazing at convention!
We were joined by so many choruses from across our region, and some even came from as far afield as Devon!! As always it was an absolute pleasure to share the joy of being in a chorus and being a part of this wonderful artform - and a pleasure to put on one of our famous GEM spreads to feed and water everyone through the day. If you've never been to a GEM event, make sure you do as our cakes alone are worth a visit...
|Vocal performance coach extraordinaire Mo Field came to visit GEM recently, to work with us on a new song for our repertoire. Mo is a veritable legend in the barbershop world (and far beyond) and took us on a fascinating journey with a new approach to performance for GEM.|
The biggest bonus of doing what we do is connecting with our audience, and taking them on a journey through a song. We work very hard as a pretty sizeable ensemble to infuse everything we sing with meaning, emotion and depth - and when it's clear the audience are feeling it too, the rewards for us as performers are phenomenal.
Mo's coaching took us all through a journey itself, fusing technical physical details about voice placement, power, breathing and stance with some intense, emotional storytelling to give the song so much life.
Thanks Mo - we hope we do you proud when we get to deliver the song - if you want to see the fruits of our labours, make sure you come along to our show in November!
|GEM recently braved the mammoth heatwave to put on a performance in the grounds of the beautiful Hoar Cross Hall near Burton-on-Trent.|
Spa guests at the hotel were treated to a selection of songs from our repertoire as they lounged on the grass in 32 degree temperatures, sipping champers and nibbling canapes! Lucky things :)
It was an absolute pleasure to perform in such a gorgeous place, despite the threat of melting on the spot - it's always fun to perform somewhere new, and we'd love to head back there again at some point!
We got some lovely comments and feedback from the assembled picnickers, some of whom weren't expecting to be serenaded - but nonetheless loved it.
See you there next time ;)
|As you may already know, GEM have a really busy year ahead...not only are we getting our new GEMettes ready for our November show (more info to come), we're also preparing to head to Spain in April to compete at the Spanish Association of Barbershop Singers convention in Calpe - AND for our return to the LABBS convention stage in October 2019! Exciting times!|
Now as you'd imagine, this not only takes a Herculean logistical task which our various committees work wonders at, but it also takes funds! Our fundraising committee sets up events and occasions throughout the GEM year to keep the coffers ticking over so we can fund both our chorus activities but also give back to our wider communities and barbershop family - keep your eyes on our events over on our Facebook page as any opportunities to help us to do this (AND be treated to a GEM sing to boot) will be posted on there.
Our Teddy Tombolas are a staple of the committee's activities, and you may well see them popping up at fairs, well dressings and the like all across the area - so if you have a stash of teddies that your kids have outgrown, bring them along to a rehearsal or pass them on to a GEM you know and we'll spruce them up and send them along to a new loving home :)
|What a fab opportunity we had to sing in Ilkeston Market Place for the Beating Retreat & Sunset Ceremony! Erewash Borough Council invited us to come along and sing for a great crowd in a gorgeous location (despite the looming clouds!) - and we were treated to a performance from Ilkeston Brass and the Band of the Nottinghamshire Royal Engineers too.|
Thanks to EBC for the photos!
|It's been a busy few weeks at GEM Towers, with extra rehearsals for our GEMettes working their way through the audition process, fundraising, getting a first listen of new songs and prepping for performances and other events!|
We started off this week with a fashion show fundraiser - our fab fundraising team put an event together last year and it was so successful and fun that another one was on the cards :) There are always cracking bargains to be had on the rails, from loads of high street names as well as exclusive designers from across Europe - make sure you come along to the next one! Some snaps of our beautiful model GEMs in action...
All in all, a fab night was had, with the tea, cakes and prosecco flowing - and more importantly, funds were raised to help support a big upcoming year for GEM - thanks to all who came along and contributed!
We were also visited this week by Rob Haywood, the Social Media Manager/Guru for our brother association, the British Association of Barbershop Singers - over the last few years, both LABBS and BABS have been on hand to support each other in promoting and supporting our big events, most notably last October when LABBS hosted the European Barbershop Convention in Bournemouth, where we showcased our Cabaret package. It was great to work together with our BABS colleagues, and we're looking to do much more of it in future - especially with our fellow East Midlands clubs!
Birthdays galore this week too, and from right across the GEM family - from (L-R) Ann, who devotedly keeps us provided with tea and biccies every single week and is one of our biggest cheerleaders, to Oranna, one of our longest serving members and our current Chair, to Gaynor, one of our absolutely brill new GEMettes!
So another week gone, and another eventful one to come - we're performing in Ilkeston at a WWi centenary ceremony on Tuesday (see our events and the previous news item for details), and we've got the brilliant Sally McLean coming to see us for a full day of coaching on Saturday!
Have a great week everyone :D
|We're delighted that we joined the Nottinghamshire Band of the Royal Engineers, 126 (City of Derby) Squadron Rifle Drill Display Team, and others performing at the Beating Retreat & Sunset Ceremony on Tueday 19th June at Ilkeston Market Place. It was to commemorate the WWI centenary, organised by the East Midlands Reserve Forces and Cadet Association. |
|For more information, see:||www.erewash.gov.uk/index.php/news-and-events/events-calendar/494-your-council/2660-beating-retreat-and-sunset-ceremony.html|
|As you may know, we held a six-week Love To Sing course back in January/February - we had a great crop of attendees who all love singing as much as we do, and from those attendees, fifteen (FIFTEEN no less) decided they'd like to have a go at being a full-time GEM! |
Well, those fifteen are now working their way through our audition process and coming along brilliantly - we've got GEMettes (as we call them) across all four sections of the chorus, so tenor, lead, baritone and bass are all covered.
Last week, six out of the fifteen passed the second stage of the process, which incorporates a visual audition to our a capella version of 'Shine' by Take That - so our GEMettes had to learn moves as well as notes and words! No mean feat...but they all passed with flying colours, and we couldn't be happier for them. We've even got them doing a kickline already...
So a huge congratulations to you all ladies - now get on those risers! :D