New choir is a Grand way to make friends

Friends Of The Grand Community Chorus in rehearsal
Friends Of The Grand Community Chorus in rehearsal

Community singers are taking to the stage in their first full concert this weekend.

The Friends Of The Grand Community Chorus launched in the autumn, and after six months of rehearsals the 30-strong choir will present their work at the theatre’s studio space.

Phill Fairhurst, the theatre’s creative learning co-ordinator set up the choir after the Friends’ group did some fundraising for the Grand’s community education work.

“People don’t realise that running alongside the main shows at the Grand there’s a lot of outreach work going on, taking workshops into places such as schools and libraries,” he said.

“While doing some voluntary work for us and in partnership with the learning department, the Friends got enthused about a music project and it went from there.

“My background is a classical music degree and teaching choirs, so I said: ‘Let’s set something up’.”

Since its first rehearsal in October, the choir has taken part in the Grand Theatre’s Christmas concert, and sung at Blackpool Carers’ Centre and other small scale events.

On Saturday, they’ll headline at The Studio, showcasing styles including musical theatre and pop.

“I wanted the choir to be accessible and inclusive, and have asked members for their suggestions of songs to perform,” Phill said. “Whatever the style is, I arrange the harmony parts to work to our members’ skills.”

Phill has been dubbed the Grand’s own Gareth Malone by choir members, and hail’s the TV choirmaster’s work in promoting choral singing.

“The choir call me Gareth as a bit of fun,” he said. “He has really boosted interest in choirs, showing the warmth among their members, and making people see that they’re an open and fun place to be.

“People come into the rehearsals, from the cold, wet weather but go back out again bouncing after.”

The concert will see the choir joined by singers from Blackpool and the Fylde College performing arts students.

New members are welcome to join the choir, and any local organisations looking for entertainment can invite the choir to attend.

* Friends Of The Grand Community Chorus, The Studio, Grand Theatre, Saturday, 2.30pm and 5pm. Call 01253 290190 for tickets or more information about the choir.