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