|The 28th Annual Convention of the Irish Association of Barbershop Singers (IABS) recently took place at the City Hall in Cork, over the weekend of 6-8th October 2017. This year's convention included an Open Mixed Chorus competition, and joining the rest of the EQ Rendezvous mixed chorus to take part were three Grand Central Chorus members - Dick Knight (GCC tenor, and EQ Rendezvous Chorus Director), Kevan Liebling (baritone) and Paul Searson (bass).|
The EQ Rendezvous mixed chorus is made up of singers who have all participated in Extreme Quartet activities at the UK Harmony Brigade, or in the Extreme Quartet stream at BABS Harmony College. The chorus includes members from the UK, Ireland, Germany, Holland and Belgium; opportunities for regular rehearsal are therefore limited, so the chorus practice their parts individually or in small local groups, and then come together for some intense rehearsals immediately before each competition performance.
When the competition results were announced Dick, Kevan and Paul were delighted to hear that EQ Rendezvous had won the Open Mixed Chorus contest, with a score of 73.9%!
This also meant that the chorus were given a spot in the Gala Concert - all of this bringing back many happy memories from the 2016 IABS Convention, when Grand Central won gold in the IABS International Chorus competition.
As with the 2016 Convention, this year's IABS Convention was a thoroughly enjoyable weekend, with a warm and friendly welcome from the local barbershoppers for all the visiting choruses and quartets. Congratulations to all the medal winners in the various contest categories, and to everyone who took part. Visit the IABS website here to see all of the contest results, and, in due course, photographs and recordings from the event.
|Once again Grand Central Chorus played a prominent part in the 43rd British Association of Barbershop Singers (BABS) Annual Convention, held this year in Bournemouth, and despite rather variable weather after an extremely hot and sunny Friday, the chorus enjoyed another very successful weekend! It began on Friday with GCC representation in the Quartet Semi-Finals - both “4 On Demand” (with Nick Bryant singing Baritone) and “The Locksmiths” (including our Musical Director Zac Booles singing Baritone) having qualified from last November’s preliminary round. The 2016 BABS Quartet Champions “Finest Hour”, with GCC’s Eddie, Nick and James Williams and Phil Cuthbert, were competing for a score to qualify for the BHS International Contest in Orlando in July 2018. All three quartets progressed to the Quartet Finals held on the Sunday of Convention. Saturday at Convention is of course Chorus Finals day and again it was a long contest, with 37 choruses from across the country taking part. Grand Central Chorus had been fortunate to have a good draw, singing towards the end of the contest when the auditorium always has a larger audience than earlier in the day. The late afternoon performance timing also allowed our chorus members to relax in the morning and then meet at 12.30pm to begin final preparations. Our contest package this year continued the innovative approach first introduced by Zac and our Music team in 2015, with both songs working together and with the involvement of key characters, and so engaging the audience in an overall story in the way that the performance category judges and knowledgeable barbershop audiences now expect.|
Our package this year consisted of arrangements of songs from “My Fair Lady” starting with a medley of “On the Street Where You Live and “I Could Have Danced All Night”....
....followed by a medley of “Get Me to the Church on Time” and “With a Little Bit of Luck”.
As in the past two years, the brilliant arrangements for this unique package came from our “in house” team of Zac, Richard Curtis and Mark Burnip. We are all very fortunate to have the benefit of their skills and as a chorus, the opportunity to perform wonderful new arrangements of well-known songs in contest. Our two main “characters” this year were Mark Soave as “Freddy” in our ballad, who was then joined by Bill Barrie, as “Alfred Doolittle” in the uptune. Over the past few months Mark and Bill have both worked so hard, both physically and mentally, as the contest package has been rehearsed repeatedly, as well as working on developing their characters and costumes. Great job guys! The overall view of Zac and our music and performance coaches was that we delivered the contest package as well as they had hoped, and so, although our third place was lower than our silver medal in 2016, and our score (80.2%) just below last year’s score, it was considered a successful outcome to the competition. It also confirmed just how much of a consistent, high quality chorus Grand Central has now become, having finished 3rd, 2nd and 3rd in the past three BABS contests. On Saturday evening, in what is fast becoming an established Grand Central Chorus BABS Convention tradition, we performed a couple of songs in the foyer area of the Bournemouth International Centre at 8.30pm to a large and appreciative crowd of fellow barbershoppers. This is always a great way to end chorus contest day, irrespective of the result. The tag of our final song “Tomorrow” delivers decibel levels close to the highest recommended limits! On Sunday, the Quartet finals took place in the afternoon and after another high-quality contest, “The Locksmiths” finished in 2nd place with a great score of 76.8% so continuing their journey towards to the top after their 3rd place finish in 2016.
“Finest Hour” successfully achieved a qualifying score (81.8 - the highest quartet score of the weekend) to secure their place in the BHS International Contest in Orlando in July 2018.
The current BABS Youth and IABS Quartet champions “4 On Demand” finished in 6th place with 72.1% to consolidate their place at the highest levels of UK Barbershop quartet singing. And at still such a young average age it’s not a question of if, but just when they will win BABS gold medals.
Finally, on Monday in the Mixed Chorus Competition, which was being held for only the second ever time, EQMC which is directed by one of our tenors Dick Knight, and includes two other GCC members, Paul Searson and Kevan Liebling, won the contest with a score of 72.4%.
This mixed chorus then made the wonderful gesture of donating their £500 prize money to the fund set up for the victims and injured affected by the terrorist atrocity in Manchester the week before. Success at Convention is always the result of hard work put in by every singer in the chorus over many months, and the leadership of our inspirational MD Zac Booles and his music and performance team. We must also mention our lead vocal coach Richard Curtis, and lead performance coach Peter Tatham, for their input, and our thanks go to the wonderful Jo Braham, who despite so many other singing and coaching commitments, again found time to be our guest coach and share her expertise as a multi-medal winning chorus director and singer. Behind the scenes, many other members helped ensure it was a successful and enjoyable Convention weekend for everyone in the chorus and so also deserve our thanks. In particular to Steve Rose, who organised and then managed all the accommodation arrangements for the chorus, George McKie, who coordinated and looked after all of the accommodation payments, and to Bill Traynor and Martin York, who arranged and transported our chorus risers to Bournemouth and back so that we could rehearse before the contest at our hotel. Thanks to all our wives, partners, friends and families, whose support and encouragement is so appreciated, and also to Annette Blackman, the wife of one of our lead section members, who, as she does every year, baked such a delicious selection of cakes for us to enjoy when we came off stage. Finally, thanks to our Chairman, Alan Goldsmith under whose leadership the Executive Committee operate so efficiently and in tandem with the Music team, so helping ensure that the musical plans and ambitions for the chorus are both financed, organised and delivered. We are already planning for the late May Bank Holiday weekend in Harrogate where the 2018 BABS Convention will take place!
|Grand Central Chorus held an open rehearsal on the Summer Solstice, Wednesday 21st June, as their contribution to 'Make Music Day UK'. A number of guests and potential new members joined us to take part in our rehearsal, and to see and hear the chorus in action.|
Make Music Day UK is an annual UK wide, free day of music held in public spaces, from squares to libraries, bandstands to school halls and arts centres, held on the summer solstice, 21 June. This is the UK’s contribution to the international summer solstice music celebration which first started in France in 1982 and now takes place in over 120 countries and 750 cities across the world. Make Music Day UK aims to turn the country into a stage, and offer a full spectrum of performers the opportunity to display their musical skills. Make Music Day UK is open to music makers of all ages, skill levels and musical persuasions, and is a way for everybody in the UK to celebrate the summer solstice - enjoying the longest day of the year, while sampling a range of the fantastic music-making which goes on all year round.
|Edition 8 of the Harmony UK podcast series includes an interesting interview with our Musical Director, Zac Booles, in which he talks about the groundbreaking, linked contest packages that Grand Central performed at the 2015 and 2016 BABS Conventions. A fascinating insight into how this concept developed, with the added bonus of audio extracts from both our medal-winning performances! Click here to hear the podcast (the interview with Zac is about 21 minutes into the podcast).|
|On the 8th April - the warmest day of 2017 so far - Grand Central Chorus hosted a show at Loughborough College, where a capacity audience enjoyed an extensive and high quality programme of Barbershop and a capella singing.|
The full Grand Central Chorus, led by our Musical Director Zac Booles and Assistant Musical Director Kevan Liebling, performed in both halves of the show, including debuting the two songs we are preparing to compete with at the 2017 BABS Convention in Bournemouth at the end of May. Special congratulations to our two performance “stars” Mark Soave and Bill Barrie, both of whom did such a great job. The chorus closed the show with a selection of their current repertoire, before delivering a powerful version of “Tomorrow” as an encore. The show also included a wonderfully entertaining performance by guests Syncapella, a Grantham-based group of singers directed by Abi Moore, whose unique style incorporates both syncopated rhythms and acapella harmonies. We were also very fortunate to have three of the UK’s top male barbershop quartets as our guests on the show. These were: the current BABS Youth Quartet champions, 4 on Demand (whose baritone Nick Bryant sings with our chorus); the current BABS Bronze medal quartet, The Locksmiths (whose baritone is our MD, Zac Booles); and finally Finest Hour (all members of Grand Central Chorus), the highest-ever scoring UK male quartet and the current BABS champions, whose focus for 2017 is their debut appearance at the BHS International Convention in Las Vegas in early July. We were thrilled to have them sing with us and the audience clearly felt the same, giving them and all our other guest performers enthusiastic welcomes and applause. The compere for the evening was the wonderful Jo Braham, who is not only one of our guest coaches but whose father, Mick Barnacle, sings in our tenor section. Jo is the Musical Director of the Cheshire Chord Company female chorus, and had already been involved with them in a very busy educational day, but still found the energy and enthusiasm to then drive south to Loughborough in time to support our show. Thanks Jo! As always, the success of this latest Grand Central Chorus Show relied on so much planning and hard work from lots of members of the chorus and their partners – but a special thanks to Mike and Wendy for their usual excellent raffle organisation, to Keith for his Stage management, Karen for videoing the performance, and to Bill and Martin for all their liaison with the venue and as well as the design of the high quality free programme, and to everyone else who contributed to such a wonderful event. The Chorus is now completing our intensive pre-Convention preparations, which includes our annual weekend retreat where we’ll be working for two days with our vocal and performance coaching team to fine tune our BABS contest package before delivering this in the chorus competition a week later, on Saturday 27 May, at the 2017 BABS Convention in Bournemouth.
The Grand Central chorus wants to get you into the Christmas spirit with a varied program of great music.The Grand Central Chorus will blow you away with their sound. You won't want to miss Finest Hour - the current BABS UK Quartet Champions, and the highest-scoring BABS quartet champions of all time. They will have you on your feet with their superb singing. Pure Steel steel band will have your feet tapping and bring a ready smile to your face. Compere Len Matthews will have you in stitches.
|Grand Central Chorus win the IABS International Chorus Competition 2016! 45 Grand Central members, together with many wives and partners, travelled to Cork over the weekend of 7/9 October for the 27Th Annual Convention of the Irish Association of Barbershop Singers (IABS) On Friday, we took part in an Open Entertainment competition - this included quartets, small groups and choruses. We performed the Wizard of Oz Medley from our 2015 BABS bronze medal-winning package. However, this time we had a guest (John Ward) taking the role of Dorothy originally played by our MD Zac Booles, and we all enjoyed entertaining yet another audience with that song. After a varied selection of performances, Hillfoot Harmony, a Sweet Adelines chorus from Scotland, deservedly won the competition for an extremely entertaining “Robin Hood” parody which the audience really enjoyed. In the main IABS International Chorus Competition the following day, we were drawn to sing first, competing with choruses from Scotland, Spain, Ireland and the UK, including Spirit of Harmony, one of the top BABS Choruses. We performed our 2016 BABS silver medal-winning competition set (If I Only Had A Brain and Over the Rainbow/Goodbye Yellow Brick Road) all of which had been arranged especially for us by our brilliant “in-house” arranging team of Zac Booles, Richard Curtis and Mark Burnip. The standing ovation we received from the audience at a packed Cork Town Hall will be remembered by us all for a long time. When the results were announced we were declared as the 2016 IABS International Chorus Competition winners, with Spirit of Harmony in second place – so a very good day for the BABS representatives. This was reinforced by the excellent silver medal won by the young BABS Quartet “4 on Demand” (including our Baritone Nick Bryant) in the International Quartet Competition, with "The Grand Dads" coming 6th. Click here for full results on IABS Convention website. We then performed on the Saturday evening Winners Concert Gala and without the pressure of competition and a judges’ panel, reprised both our winning songs and closed with our first ever performance in a big show of “Tomorrow” from Annie (yet another wonderful Booles, Curtis and Burnip arrangement). The special Guest Quartet for this IABS Convention were our own Finest Hour – the current BABS Quartet Champions - who did a superb job all weekend, singing so many times and always delivering world-class quality performances. Eddie, James, Nick and Phil once more made us all very proud that they are part of Grand Central Chorus! Overall, an extremely successful and enjoyable trip for Grand Central Chorus and all those who participated. The success is down to everyone, but in particular Kevan Liebling, our Asst. MD who led the chorus so well over the weekend in the absence of Zac Booles; Richard Curtis, our Vocal Coach and Peter Tatham, Performance Coach were also instrumental in ensuring the chorus delivered the best possible sound and performance on stage, not forgetting Barry Clinton, whose Tai Chi warmup exercises were great fun and relaxed everyone! The weekend wouldn’t have happened without all the “behind the scenes” work of our Treasurer, George McKie, who coped so well with the challenges of fluctuating £/euro exchange rates, and finally Peter Tatham, who worked tirelessly to ensure our travel and accommodation, as well as the detailed timings for the three days, were planned in detail, clearly communicated and delivered.|
Wilf PattersonJust returned from IABS Cork, followed by a tour of Ring of Kerry, The Dingle and Bantry Bay. Had a wonderful time at Convention. I concur with all the accolades to those who help so much to make it a success, the wonderful performances on stage and those special memories. One I would add is the generosity of “Spirit of Harmony” to a man (+Sally Mc) applauding us into the warm–up area on Saturday evening to acknowledge our Golden performance in the afternoon competition. Generosity of Spirit indeed: a credit to the organisation to which we belong and the hobby we love
Ian GoodingProbably echoing others but I simply want to record publicly my personal thank you: to Peter for all the arrangements, directions, instructions etc., everyone got to the right place, at the right time, in the right gear and ready to go, plus the hotel was great. Terrific job; to George for the money counting when the exchange rate was constantly changing; to Kevan for waving his arms so efficiently and effectively and to Richard and Peter for their brilliant input at rehearsals; to Chris the enforcer but having now kissed the Blarney Stone I am finding it difficult to be quiet - I nearly broke my back bending over backwards to get my lips on the stone and I now know why few attempt it; and to Zac for getting us to the place we are now at. I too had several ladies telling me in Irish and Scottish accents that we were fabulous, following our performance, and the standing ovations were indeed nice. Our Afterglow Performance reception was something other and I never saw Kevan again. Singing at the hotel on Saturday night was a great a time but creeping into the room after 2am was not appreciated. I gather some were still at it at 3am and the Irish birthday parties, which so appreciated our singing – did they ever stop? Paul Owen I second everything that Ian has said. Personally, from Dawn and myself, we had a great time in every respect.The hotel and staff were great, the commaraderie between us all was such fun, and it was also nice to see Alan Goldsmith and Lady Goldsmith with us and to join in with the revelry of the mob! Special thanks to Richard Curtis and Peter Tatham for excellent organisation.Well done also to Kev L. for the waving of upper limbs. But we must never forget WHY we can be successful and attain such a standard. This is thanks to a knowledgeable music team, and the fantastic passion and teaching of our M.D Zac Booles, many thanks Zac
So many great memories from Cork. Standing in stack between two Barbershop’s champs and a Grand Dad’s champ (next to Eddy) making up my own back row ‘quartet’, well I can dream!!!. Having Phil C hissing 3 inches from my ear like a demented snake during Kevan’s warm ups. Awe and wonder at Alan’s conducting at the hotel, bringing in every part at the right place for EVERY song. Friendly Cork folk who were happy to chat about anything as I just nodded and agreed, whilst only understanding 50% of the conversation. Getting to know John Ward who threw himself into character so the chorus could perform their contest song without changing a thing. All the lads who made the weekend special just by being there and all the partners who made sure some decorum was maintained. Plus, we sung unique arrangements very well. Well done Kevan. Just brilliant!
For me the most memorable experience of many, has to be hearing Finest Hour singing Little Pal ..twice. The sincerity, believability and musical artistry those guys showed, you could almost touch.
"Little Pal" on Saturday morning - It was only at the end of the song I realised I had not heard the chords but had been drawn into the story and the pure artistry of the moment. Thank you FH for giving me a magical moment which I will never forget. I was in tears. After that it was difficult to separate the many wonderful experiences during the whole weekend. Finest Hour were splendid (so many times........) and congratulations to Nick and 4 On Demand and the Grand Dads. It is a pleasure to be part of such a skilled and committed team. On a personal note I would like to thank everyone for being in the right place at the right time with the right clothes (almost......) all of the time.
George MckieGot back earlier this evening. What a blast! Friendly people, terrific audience, standing ovations, singing at the hotel, and enjoying hearing Finest Hour's excellent performances. Whilst I was elated that we won, the whole weekend was such a memorable experience that I am so glad we could all enjoy together. Very proud to be a part of Grand Central.
Memories from Harrogate (2 years ago) flooded in when our name hadn't been said and three and two had been announced (I felt sure we'd won that!) - it surely couldn't happen again? Such a relief! Well done to us all who spent the money and made it worthwhile. Finest Hour - what a great effort they put in - and went down a bomb.
On a personal note (or should that be notes .... "dm di dm dum dum") the reaction from my effort at the afterglow was amazing with many a vivacious blond (Rob) commenting - the last chorus - sung by the whole room of about 150 people is still ringing in my ears!
Nelson Blackleyi)Being in City Hall (with not too many in the audience) at just after 10am on Saturday and hearing Finest Hour sing "Little Pal" in their mic warming set. Absolutely stunning! ii) The generosity of the Spirit of Harmony guys applauding us all as we arrived for the Show on Saturday evening. It really captured the comradeship that exists amongst Barbershoppers. Think that both choruses represented BABS very well.
Alan GoldsmithSpecial moments - hearing Finest Hour over and over again (don't know how many songs they sang but everyone was top drawer), hearing us declared chorus champions, the reception that we got in the afterglow, and then the spontaneous sing back at the hotel on Saturday night, just wonderful to sing to a group that had never heard barbershop before.
Awestruck by Finest Hours performances throughout the week-end- you did yourselves and us proud.
What are you on? I want some.
Also more than pleasantly surprised that Cork is such a great place to visit - We will return.
Finest Hour (2016 BABS Quartet Champions)
The Locksmiths (3rd place quartet)
4 On Demand - 5th place quartet
GCC (2nd place chorus)
|During the weekend of 27/28/29/30th May, the focus of UK Barbershop Harmony was on Harrogate, where the British Association of Barbershop Singers (BABS) held their 42nd Annual Convention, including both the semi-finals and finals of the Quartet Competition, the final of the Chorus Competition and for the first time, a Mixed Voice Barbershop Choral Competition. There were over 2,300 delegates from across the UK, from Aberdeen to the Isle of Wight, as well as from overseas associations, so making it the second largest Barbershop Harmony event in the world! The Quartet semi-finals took place on Friday afternoon with 17 UK Quartets having qualified from the Preliminary Competition held back in November 2015. They were joined by 5 quartets (including two from the Irish Association of Barbershop Singers) competing for a qualifying score to be invited to BHS International in Las Vegas in 2017. Grand Central Chorus was again very well represented in the main UK competition, with a total of 15 members (names in brackets) singing across a total of 6 quartets. The standard as always was high, with Finest Hour (Eddie, James and Nick Williams, Phil Cuthbert) and The Locksmiths (Zac Booles) and 4 On Demand (Nick Bryant) qualifying for the finals and in an extremely close scoring contest (only 1.1% between the 9th placed and 16th placed quartets) Amongst the non-final qualifiers GSOH (Peter Sayer, Mark Soave and David Tanner) finished in 9th place, The Grand Dads (Mick Barnacle, Rob Taylor and Rob Parnham) in 12th place and Frank N Sense and Mirth (Frank Salter, Peter Walters and Chris Blatchford ) in 16th place. The Chorus Contest took place on Saturday with a total of 35 Choruses competing – ranging in size from just 7 singers (Western Approach) to 91 (Hallmark of Harmony) We were fortunate to have had a favourable draw, singing 30th, so avoiding an early start and enabling members to enjoy a late breakfast and relaxed morning before meeting up at 1pm to begin our final warm-up and rehearsal. It also meant that by the time we went on stage (4.30pm) most competitors had already finished and so were in the main auditorium for this final session before the results were then announced. The atmosphere was very exciting and the auditorium absolutely packed! Our contest package was based on the 'Wizard Of Oz' - with Clay Hine's arrangement of "If I Only Had A Brain” followed by an in-house arrangement of a“Somewhere over the Rainbow/Goodbye Yellow Brick Road” medley by our Musical Director Zac Booles, and members Richard Curtis and Mark Burnip). These two songs not only had a linking theme and followed on from our contest package in 2015 “the scarecrow’s journey continues” but also had a spoken link (delivered to perfection by one of our lead section, Ian Gooding) between the first and second songs! Currently, this is extremely rare in UK Barbershop and really helped us ensure that the audience realised we were presenting a complete “story” rather than two disconnected songs. With James Williams producing a fantastic performance as our key “Scarecrow” character and with the other 60 members of our chorus taking their engagement with both the character and emotion of the songs to a new and higher level, the audience absolutely loved it! Grand Central Chorus placed second (and so were awarded the The Bristol Cup), with a wonderful score of 80.8% and also were awarded the LABBS trophy for the most entertaining performance! The 2016 Chorus Champions were Cottontown Chorus, under the direction of Neil Firth, who won a sixth national title with an exceptional score of 82.4%. Third place went to Hallmark of Harmony, directed by Tim Briggs with a score of 80.3% and so, for the first time in its 42 years history, all three BABS medal-winning choruses scored over 80% and all the top 9 choruses scored over 70% - confirming the continued improvement in the quality of the national contest. It is remarkable to reflect that the score our Chorus achieved to win Gold at the BABS Convention just four years ago in 2012 (79.1%) wouldn’t have even won us a medal this year! And if all the excitement of the BABS Chorus Competition on Saturday 28 May wasn’t enough, we then had the GCC history-making events of the BABS Quartet Finals on Sunday 29 May! After what was generally considered to be the best-ever BABS Quartet Final Contest, the 2016 Champion Quartet came from our chorus with “Finest Hour” becoming the first all-GCC Quartet Champions, but doing so with the highest-ever score by a UK Quartet in this competition 82.9%! A truly world-class performance by four of the nicest and most popular people in Barbershop. Their winning margin (3.1%) was also the largest for six years. The runners-up for the third consecutive year were Portobello Road but with an improved and BHS International qualifying score of 79.7%. Grand Central Chorus also celebrated the success of our MD, Zac Booles singing Baritone with his quartet, The Locksmiths, who finished in bronze medal position and also achieved a BHS International Qualifying score of 77.7%. Finally the hugely talented and ridiculously youthful quartet 4 On Demand (whose average age is well below 20) and whose Baritone, Nick Bryant sings with Grand Central Chorus, delivered such a mature and confident performance in both the semi-final and finals they finished in 5th place with a score of 70.8% - winning the Novice Quartet Award! On Monday 30 May, the first ever Mixed Voice Barbershop Choral Competition took place and six choruses entered. It was judged as a Music Competition and the winners were Strictly Barbershop from Hertfordshire and which included Bill Lumley from our chorus. In second place was the EQHC which also included a singer from our chorus (and our Asst. MD) Kevan Liebling. In summary an extremely well organised and enjoyable BABS Convention in a great venue and with warm and dry weather! Huge thanks to BABS and their organising team led by Derek Parmenter and Alan Bithell for delivering such a successful event. For Grand Central Chorus - thanks to Zac Booles, our inspirational MD and to our “in-house” arranging team of Zac, Richard Curtis and Mark Burnip. Thanks also to our Vocal coach Richard Curtis, assisted by David Tanner and our section leaders, as well as our Performance coach Peter Tatham, assisted by Bill Lumley and Andrew Motson. All the hotel accommodation arrangements were organised by Steve Rose and the excellent and comprehensive Convention briefing document produced again by Kevan Liebling. Thanks to all the wives and partners, friends and family members who have supported us this year and in particular all those who came along to Convention. Finally thanks to our guest coaches Doug Harrington and in particular Jo Braham, whose enthusiasm, creative input and support was invaluable! We are already looking forward to the BABS Convention in Bournemouth in May 2017!|
|Grand Central Chorus Celebrate 25 Years of Harmony! In April 1990, the question was whether there would be sufficient men interested in forming a new Barbershop Chorus in the Long Eaton area, between Nottingham and Derby. In the event 45 turned up and on 4 March 1991, The Grand Central Chorus was formed. Now, 25 years, 5 gold medal winning BABS Chorus Championships, and 4 appearances at BHS International contests later, Grand Central is firmly established as one of the top UK Men’s Barbershop choruses and currently have over 60 singers. To celebrate our Silver Anniversary, the chorus organised and hosted a major show at Derby Theatre on Sunday 17th April 2016, when we were extremely fortunate to secure the support of some amazing guests. Tagline, the current BABS Quartet champions, who having just completed recording their first CD, are travelling to Nashville in July to represent the UK in the BHS International Youth Quartet contest. Hannah and the Hurricanes, whose lead Hannah Braham is the granddaughter of Mick Barnacle, one of our longest serving singers, are not only the UK Mixed Quartet champions for the past two years, but in February won World Mixed Quartet Silver medals in Munich! And last but not least, YesterYear, the locally-based men’s vocal group whose performances in the recent BBC2 Gareth Malone series were seen by millions of TV viewers. The large and knowledgeable audience in the theatre included families and friends, barbershops enthusiasts from across the Midlands, as well as the Mayor of Erewash Borough Council and Ian James, the Chairman of BABS. The show was expertly compered by the incomparable Len Matthews, a member of the BABS Hall of Fame and one of only two honorary life member of the chorus (the other being our first-ever MD, John Grant) and the entire occasion was enjoyed by all those involved – a wonderful celebration of 25 years of singing and success by Grand Central Chorus. Thanks to all our guests and those members, wives and partners who supported the event and helped with its organisation - to Tim Oxborough (liaison with Derby Theatre) Martin York (show programme) Bill Traynor (risers) Keith Holland (Stage Manager) Mike McWhinney (raffle) and Jan Dutton (photography) Finally, special thanks to Alan Goldsmith, our Chairman and Zac Booles, our inspirational MD an the all of the superb Music and Performance leadership team we have at GCC. We now look forward to the next quarter of a century and to continued success, friendship, enjoyment and harmony! Nelson Blackley - PRO Grand Central Chorus|
My name is Tim and I first came across Grand Central Chorus two years ago, while visiting the Coalville Food and Drinks fair. I was half way through a rather nice hot dog when I saw a group of guys getting ready to perform. I thought I’d stick around to hear them as I’ve always been keen on hearing a group of people sing together. I absolutely loved the sound produced by Grand Central. My daughter who was just 1 at the time loved the sound too, she was waving her arms in the air! This was enough for me to want to be a part of the chorus, and actually it was very easy from there. I was approached by a couple of members who handed me a card with details of the weekly rehearsal venue and time, and I thought ‘why not!’. I went along to the next rehearsal where I was made to feel very welcome by a very friendly group of guys. Through some very relaxed and informal training I had my audition, which again was very informal and not on my own, I was welcomed into the chorus as a full member just 4 months after first attending a rehearsal. I have never looked back and the experiences we have within the chorus through public performances and also our annual competition have been incredible. I have made many friends and I look forward to every rehearsal! I have been on the executive committee within the chorus now for over a year as Performance Manager, again a fantastic opportunity and experience. If you have an interest in singing, even if you feel you are not a strong singer, I would recommend at least trying the chorus to experience what I have for yourself - there really is nothing like it!
British Association of Barbershop Singers Quartet Preliminary Competition - Manchester 10/11 October
All 16 GCC singers who took part in the BABS Quarter Preliminary Competition at the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester over the weekend if 10/11 October in six different quartets have successfully qualified for the semi-finals (the top 16 quartets) at the BABS Convention in late May at Harrogate!
The BABS Prelims winners - and so qualifying first (by a huge and record margin of over 5%) were our own Finest Hour (Eddie Williams, James Williams, Nick Williams and Phil Cuthbert) who, with a score of 80% achieved the highest ever score by a quartet at BABS Prelims. Congratulations guys!
Locksmiths - with our Musical Director, Zac Booles singing Baritone, were 4th
The Grand Dads (and the retiring 2014 BABS Senior Champions) who are Rob Taylor, Rob Parnham, Mick Barnacle and Dave Hughes, finished 9th
4 On Demand - with our newest member, 16 year old Nicky Bryant on Bari, finished 11th
Frank n Sense n Mirth finished 13th with Frank Salter, Pete Walters, Chris Blatchford and Dave Hughes
Finally GSOH , with three Grand Central members - Mark Soave, Pete Sayers and David Tanner finished 16th.
See complete set of results at -
Overall, an extremely successful BABS weekend for Grand Central Chorus and we don't think there are any other BABS choruses that have will have 16 members competing in the BABS Quartet Semi- Finals!Finally we have been drawn to sing 38th (out of 43 choruses) in the BABS Chorus Finals in Harrogate on Saturday 28 May 2016. This is a good draw for the chorus as it avoids a really early start - unlike Llandudno in 2015 when we sang in the morning session - but also provides us all with plenty of time to properly warm up and prepare as a chorus and rehearse. It also guarantees we will perform to an absolutely packed auditorium as most of the other competing choruses will by then be gathered in the hall to hear the final few choruses and then the results announced!
|Several members of The Grand Central Chorus are also members of the 'A cappella' group called YesterYear who are currently appearing on Gareth Malone's BBC TV series 'The Naked Choir'. Out of hundreds of 'A cappella' choirs who auditioned for the series, YesterYear were chosen as one of the eight to appear on Gareth Malone's latest musical adventure called The Naked Choir, which is being broadcast on six consecutive Tuesdays on BBC2 starting on Tuesday 22nd September 2015. Watch them to see how they got on... Check out YesterYear at http://yesteryearlive.com/aboutus.html|
|The Annual BABS Convention took place over the weekend of 22/23/24 May in Llandudno, North Wales and is the second largest event of its kind in the world, with over 1200 barbershop singers involved in the Quartet and Chorus Competitions and almost 3000 registered attendees! Grand Central Chorus had three quartets involved in the Semi-Finals which took place on the Friday afternoon – all of who had qualified from the prelims held last November. Finest Hour (Eddie, Phil, James and Nick), Frank n’ Sense n’ Mirth (Frank, Peter, Dave and Chris) and the current BABS Senior Quartet Champions, The Grand Dads (Rob T, Dave, Mick and Rob P) They all performed really well in front of the large and knowledgeable audience in the Convention Centre with Finest Hour qualifying for Sunday’s Final, The Grand Dads finishing in 10th place and Frank n’ Sense n’ Mirth in 13th place. Our MD, Zac Booles was singing Baritone in another quartet, The Locksmiths, who also qualified for the final. Saturday was Chorus Finals day – with 36 Choruses from across the UK competing for not just gold, silver and bronze medals but also divisional titles – introduced for the first time in 2014 and designed to provide an incentive and reward for those smaller and sometimes less experienced choruses taking part. Our day began early with a chorus breakfast in our hotel at 6.30am!! – however this was a great start to the day with everyone able to meet up for the first time since our last rehearsal four days before. We then moved onto our warm up and rehearsal venue, located extremely conveniently a few hundred yards down the Esplanade where at just before 8am, we were all ready to begin our final preparations. We were joined by our two guest coaches, Doug Harrington and Jo Braham, who had each given us so much invaluable help over the past months. After an hour of vocal warm up and rehearsal, we all moved further down the Esplanade to the Convention Centre and where we entered the superbly well organised competitors “pipeline” with changing, photographs and then final run-through. Lifted by the wonderful words from bass section member, Tim Hilton, who had addressed the chorus at the previous weekend’s retreat and did so again on Saturday morning, we finally went on stage at 11.22am and for the next ten minutes presented the packed auditorium with the result of all the days and hours of work over the past year! Our contest package consisting of a “Wizard of Oz Medley”, arranged for us by Zac Booles and our tenor Mark Burnip, followed by the hugely emotional Clay Hine arrangement of “If I Only Had a Brain” Wizard Medley: https://youtu.be/lmUbwAAJkfk If I Only Had A Brain: http://youtu.be/ylEghGTvm3k Our performance went as well as we could possibly have wished for, resulting in a fantastic audience reaction, and with so many of our wives, partners, family, friends and supporters in the audience, it provided the real highlight of the weekend, and the year, for the Chorus. The results were finally announced late Saturday afternoon and with our second highest ever score in (79.1%) and in fact the 6th highest score in BABS history, we finished 3rd, behind Great Western Chorus from Bristol and Cottontown Chorus from Bolton, both of whom scored over 80%, the first time two choruses have done so in the same BABS Chorus Competition. As we saw last year in Harrogate, standards are increasing rapidly and this was confirmed by no less than 9 choruses scoring 70% or higher. Incredibly, the winning score the last time the BABS Convention was held in Llandudno, just four years ago, would have placed only 7th this year! However Grand Central Chorus are once again back in the medals and the whole chorus are delighted that we have been rewarded for all our work and effort and that Zac has his first ever BABS medal as a MD. Sunday afternoon at Convention brought the much anticipated Quartet Final, which involved six quartets with the highest scores from the semi-finals plus two previous BABS Champion Quartets (Reckless and Park Street) who were looking to gain a qualifying score for the BHS International Competition in 2016. Finest Hour, once again, made us all very proud that they’re from Grand Central Chorus with a great package that deservedly got a standing ovation. Tagline, a quartet who had won the BABS Youth Contest in 2013, won Gold with the silver medallists from the past two years (Portobello Road) in second place again. Finest Hour finished third, claiming the bronze medals in another outstanding BABS quartet contest, with The Locksmiths in fourth place. As a chorus we are incredibly proud that five of our members sing in the top four quartets in the country – as well as another four members who are the current British Seniors Quartet champions! Another wonderful BABS Convention weekend – thanks to BABS and their incredible Convention team led by Derek Parmeter who do much to ensure everything happens on time and as planned, as well as all those involved in Grand Central Chorus. Thanks to our inspirational MD, Zac Booles, who is leading Grand Central Chorus on such an exciting journey, Asst MD Kevan Liebling, Vocal Coach Richard Curtis, whose work with us on Saturday mornings with those has made such a difference to our overall sound and our Performance coach Peter Tatham. Thanks also to Martin York - who did such a great job in organising and securing excellent accommodation as well as those in both our Music team and Executive, led by our Chairman, Alan Goldsmith, not forgetting our wives, partners, friends and families who have helped and supported us throughout the year. We now can’t wait to begin planning for the 2016 BABS Convention in Harrogate!!|
Grand Central Chorus hosts 2013 International Chorus Champions, Toronto Northern Lights!
Grand Central Chorus enjoyed the incredible experience of hosting the UK leg of Toronto Northern Lights (TNL) 2015 European Tour from 18-20 April
TNL, founded and led by their MD, Steve Armstrong, won BHS International bronze medals five times and gained consecutive silver medals between 2001 and?2005 before finally winning gold in 2013 when the competition was held in their hometown of Toronto - where Grand Central also competed immediately before TNL as the BABS representatives
Most of the 63-strong TNL party, including 46 chorus singers, arrived in the East Midlands on Saturday 18 April, either flying in directly from Toronto, or in some cases from other UK or European destinations, and so a welcome social evening and buffet had been organised at Risley Hall Hotel, located between Nottingham and Derby, for all our Canadian guests, GCC members and their wives and partners. This historic manor house, with its 16th Century Baronial Hall, provided a perfect venue for an extremely enjoyable start to the weekend, which after a formal welcome to TNL from our Chairman, Alan Goldsmith, then included a first chance for GCC to sing briefly with TNL, as well as hearing more of the amazing TNL sound as they entertained the audience with several songs from their repertoire. The entire evening was excellently organised by our Chorus Secretary and lead section member, Ian Gooding.
Many of the TNL party were staying with GCC members, at locations across the East Midlands, all of which was managed by our Bass section member, Keith Harding, who did a brilliant job in planning and coordinating accommodation and transport.
On Sunday morning, most of the TNL group visited Derby Cathedral and the had the chance to climb the tower followed by a traditional English roast lunch in the Ye Olde Dolphin Inne, reputed to be the oldest in Derby. Once again, every detail of the morning’s activities for our guests had been efficiently organised by Ian Gooding.
However, the major highlight of the weekend was the joint Grand Central Chorus / Toronto Northern Lights Show, held at the Derby Theatre on the Sunday afternoon, and which provided the capacity audience a rare opportunity to see and listen to one of the world’s top barbershop harmony choruses, who had not performed in the UK since 2008.
Grand Central Chorus filled the first half of the show, and sang both our 2015 BABS Convention contest songs, one of which has been arranged especially for us by our MD Zac Booles and Tenor, Mark Burnip, as well as two of Zac’s previous arrangements for the chorus, Robbie William’s "Angels" and Billy Joel’s "She’s Always A Woman To Me" together with several other songs from across our current repertoire. Thanks to our MD, Zac Booles, for his leadership and direction and to our Asst MD Kevan Liebling.
Our four quartets, (The Grand Dads, Finest Hour, Frank n’ Sense and Mirth and GSOH) three of which will be involved in the BABS quartet semi-finals at SING 2015, also performed to an extremely high standard to the appreciative and knowledgeable audience.
The second half of the Show featured our star guests, Toronto Northern Lights, with a superb package of both chorus and quartet songs, including the legendary "Brother Can you Spare a Dime" from their acclaimed 2004 BHS International performance.
The two-hour show closed with both choruses together on the risers, singing "Irish Blessing" at the end of which the entire audience were on their feet, calling for more!
The audience were not just generous with their applause but also contributed over £220 in a collection for Relate, East Midlands the chorus’s chosen charity for 2015.
The Vice Chairman of BABS, Peter Cookson, who was at the show commented "I thoroughly enjoyed the wonderful display of Barbershop. All credit to GCC organising the event – bringing top choruses to the UK not only benefits the hosting chorus, but is of great value to all the BABS membership"
As on many previous important Grand Central occasions, the show was superbly compered by one of our two Honorary Life members, Len Matthews, with his trademark relaxed style and understated sense of humour. It was good to see that our other Honorary Life member, the chorus founder and former MD, John Grant, was in the audience.
The afterglow was equally memorable, as both choruses as well as many of the audience met up, enjoyed a drink or two and of course sang!
TNL once again demonstrated, even in the small space at one end of the bar area, and with poor acoustics, just why they are a world class chorus, delivering an incredibly emotionally engaged performance of yet more of their repertoire, ending with Steve Armstrong’s absolutely stunning arrangement of "The Prayer" with Asst. MD, Jordan Travis, singing solo lead.
It proved a fitting end to an afternoon and evening Barbershop which Grand Central Chorus, and many others who were also there, will remember for a long time. All the liaison and arrangements with the Derby Theatre, including ticket sales were led for GCC by our SIngout Secretary and baritone, Tim Oxbrough. The Show was further enhanced by a high quality full colour programme, sponsored by West Transport, and coordinated and designed by our Recruitment Manager and bass, Martin York.
The weekend ended early on Monday morning when our new friends from TNL boarded two coaches, travelling south to Luton Airport and onto the second leg of their tour in Germany. TNL will then be the guest chorus at the Society of Nordic Barbershoppers (SNOBS) annual convention in Sweden.
Our Chairman, Alan Goldsmith summed up the weekend ‘the fact that we hosted an International Champion Chorus, had a great social evening and shared the stage with them is a great credit to everyone in Grand Central Chorus’
The Treasurer of TNL Dave Smith was also full of praise ‘Thank you so much for your hospitality! We all had a wonderful time with you guys and I sure hope we can do it again sometime not too far away! Seems to me that this kind of affair is the best of all things barbershop and I know I can speak for TNL when I say we loved it! You guys are ace and we love you all!’
The whole experience, and its overwhelming success, has been hugely satisfying for everyone involved with Grand Central Chorus and the entertainment, education and friendships gained by hosting the TNL visit will be invaluable as we now focus on SING 2015 in Llandudno at the end of May. Follow our final preparations on our website www.grandcentralchorus.com on Twitter @GrandCentralMen and our Facebook page www.facebook.com/GrandCentralChorus
Nelson Blackley PRO - Grand Central Chorus
|The photo shows most of the Grand Central Team who took part in this year’s 'Movember.' charity event.|
|Reflecting the increased interest in quartet singing across many BABS choruses in the past few years, 16 of our singers, which represent over one quarter of our total membership, competed in 7 different quartets at the BABS Quartet Preliminaries in Birmingham on 16th November – and with great success! Three of our quartets, Frank’nSense’nMirth (Frank Salter, Dave Hughes, Peter Walters and Chris Blatchford) The Grand Dads (Rob Parnham, Rob Taylor, Mick Barnacle and Dave Hughes - again!) and Finest Hour (James, Eddie, Nick Williams and Phil Cuthbert) qualified for May’s BABS Quartet Semi-finals in Llandudno and GSOH, (including Mark Soave, Peter Sayer and David Tanner) just missed out but will be one of the mic warmers in May. David Tanner also qualified for the semi-finals with his other quartet New Tricks, as did our MD, Zac Booles singing baritone with The Locksmiths. The Finest Hour qualified with the highest score and The Grand Dads also won the BABS Senior Quartet Competition! Our other chorus representative in the Prelims, Jonny Pipe, who flew back from his university studies in Spain to compete, won a bronze medal in the BABS Youth Quartet Competition with his quartet, The Unisons. So overall, a great day for The Grand Central Chorus! As mentioned above, The Grand Dads Barbershop quartet, all members of The Grand Central Chorus became the 2014 BABS British Seniors Quartet Champions at the Birmingham Conservatoire on Sunday 16th November 2014. As you can imagine, they are absolutely delighted (they were stunned at the time!)! They were also placed 9th in the full national contest, with a score of 67.6% (their highest-ever BABS contest score). 48 quartets competed for a top 16 place in the semi-finals, to be held in Llandudno in May. This win follows two seconds and a third placing in the preceding three years. Mick Barnacle, our most senior quartet member, and tenor in the quartet, emailed the quartet with:- "Trust you slept well wearing your medals. You guys have made a massive contribution to my, I believe, unspoken ambition, whilst celebrating my 40th year of BABS membership, of winning the Seniors title, and even better, finishing in the top ten - single figures !! WOW !!"|
|My name is Dave. I am a bass in the Grand Central Chorus, and this is my story... I have loved to sing since I was a child and sang ‘I Believe’ as a soloist at the age of about 10. I’d got the performing bug, but like all boys, my treble voice was going to change, and so in my teens, although I enjoyed listening to other singers, I put my own singing on hold for a while. There is always the issue of growing up, finding a job, a wife, a house and of course, bringing up children, so any ideas of a full-time singing career faded. However, my love of music and singing was still important to me, and my then wife encouraged me to sing in karaoke bars. I was on holiday in Majorca when a stranger came over to me as I sat down after singing an Elvis number and said “You’ve got a great voice, why don’t you sing professionally?”|
That set me thinking about more than karaoke bars. My late wife encouraged me to develop an Elvis tribute act. She even made me a suit, which still fits, nearly, and helped me to find regular bookings in and around the City of Leicester. Although the agents all seemed to think that my legs were not quite right for the short skirts they wanted their singers to wear, we managed to develop our own regular appearances, and included a disco so that we could provide a full evening’s entertainment without need of a second act. When my late wife died, I decided that I would not take any more bookings for the full disco and tribute act. I met and married my present wife, and moved into Ashby de la Zouch. Several of the pubs ran regular karaoke nights, and I was soon singing again, and occasionally Elvis was seen walking the streets of Ashby, although his hair did seem to have faded a bit. On the way home from the pub one evening in November 2012, I saw a notice in Just Gents Barbers Shop, advertising an open evening for any men interested in singing with a male voice, ‘a capella’ chorus. The present Mrs Eason suggested I should go along and see. I had never sung in a choir so really had no idea what to expect. There was only a small problem as I was not able to get to the Open Evening, so I called the number on the poster and spoke to a really friendly guy called Martin who told me to come along the week after – so I did.
I really did not expect to see around forty guys of all ages lined up and ready to sing. I was invited to climb up onto the risers and warm up with them which I really enjoyed. During the evening, Zac, the Musical Director, introduced himself to me and asked me to go with him to a quiet area where we sang together. Then he said to me “You’re a bass.” That came as a shock as I had never realised I could sing the low notes. He then went on to explain the audition process to me. I listened to the rest of the rehearsal evening, and when I heard the sound they made, I just knew I wanted to be a part of it. When I got home, I gave a well-folded piece of paper to my wife who does all the technical stuff and said that she had to download the teach tracks and the music for me to learn. Well, she had no problem finding the website, but did not entirely understand that I only needed the bass track and the full four voices, and of course the sheet music for the words. The wife copied the tracks onto my iPod, which I am informed was a bit of a challenge, and that I would have to buy an MP3 player if I was going to join this group and she had to download tracks regularly. Bless her, she did type out the words for me so the print was large enough for me to see, and I could start to learn my audition piece. I had a choice of four numbers, and chose “I’ll Be Seeing You”. I don’t actually read music, and didn’t really understand how to use the teach tracks. So, the next Wednesday I asked a few of the chaps and got loads of help and advice – including putting on the earphones and playing the track whilst taking a brisk walk. It seemed mad at the time, but it worked and helped with breathing. There was absolutely no pressure on me to learn at a specific rate, or to take the audition by a certain date. Everything was so friendly and helpful - there was no time to get nervous about the audition. You have three attempts, and after each attempt there is help to correct any problems you are facing. You are not even on your own during the audition. Four other guys sing with you so you get the full quartet version of the song and you sing with one other bass. I can’t remember who sang the bass line with me, but I’d like to thank the whole bass section again for the advice and help they gave me in those first few weeks. During the time I was learning my audition piece, I also had to learn a number of other songs so that I would be able to take part in performances and competitions. There was a singout in Long Eaton during this period and I went along, with my wife. The chorus finished the evening with “He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother”. My wife said she had never heard the song performed like that before. There was something about the chords that made her quite emotional. I became even more determined to pass the audition, become part of the chorus and sing that song. With the audition passed at the second attempt early in January, I officially joined the ranks of the Grand Central Chorus and received my chorus gear. There was a stage suit, navy blue shirt and shiny waistcoat to wear on stage and ‘Walk Out Gear’ consisting of a bright blue bomber jacket, and a mulberry shirt (although the wife still insists it is pink!). I was so proud when I tried on the stage gear, and just could not stop grinning. Someone asked me if I wanted to go to Toronto now that I was a full member. I was so amazed and just said “Yes please”, without really thinking about the consequences (nothing unusual there.) There was a lot of registering to be done, firstly with BABS, then for the International Convention in Toronto which was only a few months away. Before the trip to Toronto, the Chorus attended the UK Convention in Bournemouth, in May 2013. I found out then just how famous a chorus I had joined. We were staying on a caravan site and either side of us were members of other choruses from the Midlands. My wife innocently told them that I sing with Grand Central and was met with a sharp intake of breath - such was the reputation of Grand Central as one of the top choruses in the country. What had I got myself into?
I still can’t describe the feeling I had as I walked towards the convention centre in Bournemouth in my walkout gear and saw so many different coloured uniforms heading in the same direction. As the 2012 British Men's Chorus Champions, Grand Central were not actually competing in Bournemouth, but had so much to do including setting the standard as the ‘mic warmers’ for the competition, taking part in various shows throughout the weekend and being coached by some top American educators. I was exhausted at the end of the weekend, but I had made new friends within the Barbershop community and found out just how special Grand Central Chorus is. After the convention, practice became more intense as we prepared for the International Convention in Toronto. Our plane touched down on the 30th June 2013. I had never been to Canada before and spent the evening just wandering through that part of town between the hotel and the waterfront. What a beautiful city! We had one more free day, Canada Day on 1 July, and a trip to Niagara falls with most of the Chorus, before the work began again in earnest.
We sang at a number of events in the hotel prior to the big competition in the Air Canada Centre. When you walk out on stage to an audience in excess of 8,000 there are not enough words to describe the pride, apprehension and exhilaration that run through you. Then you just sing, the very best you can, holding your part within the sound that is the Grand Central Chorus. We came twentieth, with the highest score the chorus had ever achieved. That is unbelievable when you consider that about 800 choruses take part in competitions across the globe with only the best 30 actually making it to the convention. The winners, Toronto Northern Lights were just amazing. Although it was an important competition, I could not believe how friendly everyone was – it did not matter who they were, everyone, even the officials, shook hands with you and, chatted in the lifts (sorry elevators) in the hotels. Since the highlight of my life that was Toronto, we have come back to earth. There have been several singouts across the East Midlands, including one in my own home town of Ashby de la Zouch where we sang in March 2014 at the Holy Trinity Church.
We have been learning more new songs, for both performances and for competitions in the UK. My wife now downloads the teach tracks to my mobile phone so I always have them with me to listen to at any quiet moment. She still prints the music and types out my words for me which has saved me from learning to read music! I still get that rush of pride when I put on my stage gear, and sing as a bass with Grand Central, and intend to go on singing for as long as I am up to the standard of one of the best Barbershop Choruses in the UK. ###############################################################
Over the weekend of 23-25th May, The Grand Central , along with 45 other choruses, participated in the 40th British Association of Barbershop Singers (BABS) Annual Convention, held this year at the Harrogate International Convention Centre. With over 3000 Barbershop singers and delegates this is the second largest event of its kind in the world! The weekend included several Barbershop shows and many social gatherings but as usual the key events were the UK National Barbershop Championships for both choruses and quartets. As five time winners, The Grand Central Chorus were amongst the small group of top choruses expected to contest the medals, but the standard at this year’s event was unprecedented and despite a high score of 78.3% (which would have won gold in four out of the past seven years!) we finished only 5th - although less than 1% behind the runners-up. Hallmark of Harmony from Sheffield were crowned UK Chorus Champions , with Great Western Chorus of Bristol winning the silver medals and Mantunian Way from the University of Manchester Barbershop Society in bronze medal position in what was their first ever appearance at the Convention! Hallmark of Harmony now qualify to represent the UK at the 2015 International Convention in Pittsburgh, USA. In the quartet competition, two quartets from The Grand Central Chorus qualified for the semi-finals. These were HomeSpun, the 2013 bronze medallists and The Grand Dads (Runners-up in the 2012 and 2013 UK Seniors competition, and third in 2014). Despite delivering what was generally considered to be their best ever performance on stage at Convention, The Grand Dads finished 12th and so missed out on a place in the final. However, HomeSpun qualified 3rd and in the final also finished in bronze medal position behind the winners, Park Street. from Bristol and 2nd placed Portobello Road. Congratulations to Nigel, James, Eddie and Nick!
Grand Central Chorus organised and hosted a very successful show on Saturday 22 March at Holy Trinity Church, Ashby de la Zouch, where a large audience enjoyed a variety of music in a packed programme which included the Moira Male Voice Choir, Castle Rock School Choir from Coalville, renowned trumpeter John Barker, HomeSpun and The Grand Dads Barbershop Quartets and the full Grand Central Chorus. As well as raising funds for the chorus, the generosity of the audience meant over £200 was raised for Headway, the Nottingham-based national brain injury charity which Grand Central are supporting throughout 2014
A wonderful weekend’s coaching from Steve Armstrong, one of the world’s best! Grand Central Chorus experienced both an educational and enjoyable weekend on 8 and 9 March when we welcomed Steve Armstrong, the Musical Director and co-founder of Toronto Northern Lights, the men’s barbershop chorus who won gold in last year’s BHS International Competition. Recognised as one of the world’s top music educators, Steve spent much of the two days focused on every aspect of the two songs Grand Central will sing at the British Association of Barbershop Singers (BABS) Chorus Championships in Harrogate on 24 May. Everyone who was there, from chorus members with years of experience of singing in the barbershop style to those recently introduced to the hobby, left the weekend inspired to take their own singing, and that of the chorus, to an even higher level. Photos: 1) Steve Armstrong; 2) the chorus and MD, Zac Booles, under the watchful eyes and ears of Steve
|Grand Central Chorus is delighted to be welcoming Steve Armstrong for a weekend of coaching on 8 and 9 March. We can’t wait for this opportunity to listen and learn from one of the barbershop world’s leading educators.|
Steve is the Musical Director and co-founder of Toronto Northern Lights, the men’s barbershop chorus who won gold in last year’s BHS International Competition, (effectively the world championships) having previously won five consecutive silver medals between 2001 and 2005. He has a degree in Music Education, has served as an international music judge and has coached and taught throughout Canada, the USA Sweden and the UK.
|Grand Central Chorus are singing as part of the first annual Coalville Food, Drink and Music Festival on Saturday 23 November. We will be performing several times between 1pm and 3.30pm both in Needham Way, alongside the ice rink, and also in the town's precinct where local food and drink producers will have stalls. The invitation to participate came after Paul Tallett, the Chairman of Coalville's Town Team, came along to one of our weekly chorus rehearsals. " I was blown away - we wanted to bring something very different to Coalville and these guys just have to be heard"|
|Homespun and The Grand Dads have qualified for the semi-finals of the British Barbershop Quartet Championships. The qualification round (known in the business as the Quartet Prelims) took place at the Birmingham Conservatoire on Sunday 17th November 2013, where over 40 quartets competed, and the top 16 quartets went through to the semi-finals at the British Association of Barbershop Singers (BABS) annual convention in Harrogate in May 2014. Rob Taylor, bass singer in The Grand Dads said "There were many very good quartets competing, and I am both relieved and delighted to go through to the semis"|
|You can see the chorus for free in the town centre of Coalville, Leicestershire, on Saturday 23rd November, 2013 It is singing as part of an all day food, drink and music event there. The chorus will be singing between1pm and 3pm. Sounds interesting! Watch this space for more details! If you are seeking an entertainment contact Peter on 01530243822 or e-mail email@example.com. A recent appearance at a wedding service in Sawley was highly appreciated. Any number of singers can be provided from four to fifty. Fees are negotiable. Quality is guaranteed.|
|The Chorus returned to their first rehearsal, after the Barbershop World Championships in Toronto, Canada, looking to gently flex their vocal chords and ease their way back in. The Director had other ideas - a twenty minute warm up and ‘It Was Just One Of Those Things’ which saw them ‘Beginning To See The Light’ - two new songs that were brought out for them to wrap their chords around. And now the Xmas ones rear their beautiful head, polish them and learn a new one or two. The Christmas Concert this year is to be held on Saturdaythe 14th December, 2013, in the May Hall, Trent College, Derby Road, Long Eaton NG10 4AD, at 7.30.pm. Tickets £8 Children £5. Obtainable from Brian on 01773749737 , Nelson on 07967091202 or the e-mail below. The concert will feature Gem Ladies Chorus from Long Eaton as well as Grand Central and their quartets. Start the move into Xmas with a song in your head and your heart. The Chorus is available to sing anywhere, anytime. If you are seeking an entertainment contact Peter on 01530243822 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. Any number of singers can be provided from four to fifty. Fees are negotiable. Quality is guaranteed. Sponsorship will be welcomed.|
On Friday the 5th of July 2013, 45 members of Grand Central Chorus walked out onto the dark stage of the Air Canada Centre, Toronto, a stage that has felt the feet of the famous, from the Rolling Stones to Madonna. An explosion of light and sound revealed a massive arena with 6000 applauding Barbershop followers and the contingent of fans cheering hysterically. Zac, our Musical Director, waved his arms and the chorus burst into song. Six minutes later it was all over and we were walking off to rapturous applause. ‘Wow that was phenomenal, it made all the work and the waiting worthwhile,’ said chorus member Dave Eason who was experiencing his first competition. ‘I never imagined anything like that when I came along to that Open Night last year’.The results revealed that the Chorus had achieved their highest score ever at International, 78.8%, and achieved 20th place, that’s 20th out of around 800 choruses in the world. The winning score, by the Toronto Northern Lights Chorus was an amazing 94%!! All the above pics were taken by Photo by Miller Photography, Louisville KY. The day before, Grand Central Chorus had performed in the famous Fairmont Royal York Concert Hall in the World Harmony Jamboree Show which featured top Barbershop performers from North America, Australia, New Zealand and Sweden. Its set, which included the Lennon/McCartney number Ob-la- Di, Ob-la -Da (British song writers seemed to be neglected) was generously received.
|Local Chorus compete with best in the world. The East Midlands based Grand Central Chorus fly off to Canada on the 1st July, 2013, having sung their way into the International competition at the Barbershop Harmony Society’s Convention being held in Toronto from the 30th June to the 7th July, 2013. The competition is to be held at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto on the 5th July and will feature Choruses from across the U.S.A. and Canada. The Chorus will be representing the United Kingdom as a result of winning the British Barbershop Association championship in May 2012. 'The standard in North America is very high with the top choruses scoring over 95%, a standard which has never been reached by any UK chorus.’ says Zac Booles Chorus Director. ‘We are competing against the best in the world and hope to make everyone back home proud.'|
|People of all ages can listen to Erewash Sound and hear a track they will like and/or can relate to within minutes of hearing one that they might not! This means that everyone in any given location can listen to and therefore take advantage of the other services offered by the radio station, both musically and through information provided. No-one should be made to feel left out and unable to listen to the station, irrespective of age. Erewash Community Radio promote local music on a Saturday evening.|
|GCC's top quartet came third in the British Barbershop Quartet Championships held at Bournemouth on 3rd, 4th and 5th May 2013. I think they were pleased with their bronze medals....|
GCC's other quartet in the competition, The Grand Dads came a creditable 11th.
|The Chorus, as non-competing, retiring champions, had a hard day at the office on Saturday 3rd May. It began with ‘Mike warming’ at 10am, at the opening of this year's competition and ended at 11.30.pm singing with the Cheshire Chord Ladies Chorus in an informal presentation after the Saturday evening show. In between, the Chorus had two separate hour-long ‘Master Class’ coaching by the guest American quartet ‘Lunch Break’, ‘Mike Cooled’ at 6pm at the end of the competition and closed the evening show at 11.15.pm. Four of the Chorus members, who comprise the quartet ‘Homespun’ had more to come on the Sunday, competing in the finals of the quartet competition. It was worth it, as they won the bronze medal - the third best quartet in Britain! Grand Central Chorus also had a hand in the winning quartet’s success, as our Musical Director, Zac Booles, arranged their ‘up tempo’ song - a medley from the musical, Oklahoma.|
|It’s show-time again with EMUS Youth. No we have not had the bird we are featuring Erewash Musical Society Youth Group at the Chorus show on Saturday the 8th June, which is happening at the Long Eaton Silver Prize Band Hall, Salisbury Street, NG10 1BA at 7.30.pm. In addition to the Chorus there will be two quartets, the ‘Grand Dads’ for the older members of the audience and ‘Homespun’ featuring a Dad and his three lads for the younger set. Doors open 7pm. Tickets £5 from Bryan on 01159463803, e-mail email@example.com . There is a licensed bar. Come on down and try a different night out that will not break the bank, high quality at budget prices. This is the last performance before the Chorus head for Toronto at the end of June to represent the U.K. at the International Barbershop Convention. See www.barbershop.org/toronto and you can follow us on twitter. Thanks, by the way, to all who came to our Loughborough show on the 20th April, and made it such a success. Every seat occupied and enthusiastic applause – what more could you ask for. STOP PRESS Tagline’ the quartet that were hot on the heels of our own ‘Homespun, (they came fourth) will be also be singing.|
|You can now follow GCC on Twitter: @GrandCentralMen Please note - You don't need to be a Twitter user to find GCC on Twitter. Just type the account name @GrandCentralMen into Google or any other search engine and it should bring it up.|
|Our next concert is at 7.30pm on the 20th April, 2013 at the Emmanuel Church, Forest Road, Loughborough, LE11 3NW. On the bill is the Chorus, their two quartets ‘Grand Dads’, the Chorus seniors and ‘Homespun’ featuring a Dad and his three lads, the very talented Act One Youth Musical Theatre Group from Shepshed and the new ‘New Orleans Hotshots’ playing their special brand of traditional jazz. M.C. will be Mr. Des Bates the well known local presenter and raconteur. Tickets £8 from Peter on 01530 243912 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org|
|A Champion year ahead. After the December experience of singing on the streets at Nottingham and in the magnificent surroundings of Newstead Abbey the Chorus started the new year in a more business like setting. The Novotel, Long Eaton was the venue for the National Barbershop Directors’ Academy and the chorus is there to be used by the American educator to display the skills and techniques required of a successful chorus Director. It was an exacting start to the year but proved to be an inspirational day for all concerned, emphasizing the professional standards aimed for in what is a hobby. Fundraising is at the forefront of the Chorus activities this year to support them in competing, as British Champions, at the International Barbershop Convention in Toronto, Canada. An auction is being held on the 6th April, 2013, at the Long Eaton Silver Prize Band Hall, Salisbury Street, NG10 4BA. Viewing 12nn to 1pm when the auction commences. Come along and pick up a bargain, household goods and collectibles are coming under the hammer. The next concert is at 7.30pm on the 20th April, 2013 at the Emmanuel Church, Forest Road, Loughborough, LE11 3NW. On the bill is the Chorus, their two quartets ‘Grand Dads’, the Chorus seniors and ‘Homespun’ featuring a Dad and his three lads plus the very talented ‘Act One’ Youth Musical Theatre Group from Shepshed and the ‘New Orleans Hotshots’ with their special brand of traditional jazz. MC for the night is Des Bates. Tickets £8 on the door, from Peter on 01530243912 or e-mail. Draw tickets, with a first prize of £400, are being sold. If you would like some they will be available at the above events or contact us at the e-mail address below. Sponsorship is being sought from East Midland businesses. Nelson on 07967091202 is the man to call if interested. See the website www.grandcentralchorus.com for up to date information. If you are seeking an entertainment contact Peter on 01530 243822 or e-mail as below. Any number of singers can be provided from four to forty. Fees are negotiable. Quality is guaranteed. E-mail email@example.com with enquiries regarding any of the above.|
|Gold singers for designer shoppers. The Long Eaton based Grand Central Chorus will be entertaining shoppers with their gold medal winning close harmony singing in the ancient area of Hockley adjacent to the Lace Market, Nottingham, on Sunday 2nd December, 2012.|
The Chorus will perform three twenty minute spots at 1pm, 1.45.pm. and 2.30.pm. The probable location will be the wide pavement at the top of Carlton Street near to the Mercure Hotel. ‘It will be good to get out on the streets singing to the shoppers, I just hope the rain holds off. No! We havn’t got THAT song in the repertoire’ said member Rob Parnham. The aim is to raise the profile of the Nottingham Business Improvement District by presenting quality street entertainment. This is an opportunity to listen to the top Barbershop Chorus in the Country who will be competing in the International competition in Toronto, Canada, next year. The Chorus will be directed by their new young Director Zac Booles, who took over the baton at the end of October from his mentor John Grant, who was recently featured in the Nottingham Evening Post. ‘It is just great to take over a Chorus of this calibre,’ says Zac ‘particularly as this is where I started over 10 years ago.’ http://maps.google.co.uk/maps?oe=utf-8&rls=org.mozilla:en-US:official&client=firefox-a&q=Hockley,+Nottingham&um=1&ie=UTF-8&hq=&hnear=0x4879c3d6718ad8c5:0xc5740e0fb0b51af5,Hockley,+Nottingham&gl=uk&sa=X&ei=4KivUKu1KYjJhAe4wYHYBA&ved=0CIsBELYD
|The Chorus is sad to announce the departure of their Director, John Grant, who has retired after taking the Chorus to two medals in two years. He made the announcement public on the 27th October, on the stage at The Ladies Association of British Barbershop convention where the Chorus performed in the Saturday evening show. At the same time he handed over the Directorship of the Chorus to Zac Booles who had co-directed the Chorus since June, 2012.|
‘On being invited out of retirement by Grand Central Chorus in 2010, my limited mobility and advancing years made me give myself two years to satisfy my ego and achieve further success’ says John Grant, ‘during that time I achieved my goals of Improving the singing, increasing the membership and mentoring a young successor. I am content that Zac Booles, as the new Director, will serve the Chorus well. I thank Grand Central for giving me the opportunity to direct again and wish them well for the future.’ The Chorus thanked him for his efforts and the chairman Derek Dodman presented him with a framed photograph of the Chorus together with a crystal wine decanter suitably inscribed.
John is well known and respected in barbershop circles. He’s been involved in the genre since 1975 and has been British Association of Barbershop Singers most successful chorus director. His record in this role is second to none, having achieved seven firsts, three seconds and four third places at the National Barbershop Championships. He has also reached the final stages of the Sainsbury’s Choir of the Year competition on three occasions. He was a founder member and Chorus Director of Grand Central from 1991 to 1996 winning the UK Championship at their first attempt in 1993. He gave up directing in 1997 due to work and ill health but, having given up work, was pleased to return to Grand Central in 2010. The rest is history - he took them to a bronze medal six months later and the gold twelve months later in May 2012.
|In May this year, the members of the Grand Central Chorus sang out of their skins and won the National Barbershop Singing Championship. The chorus has now been invited by their organisation, ‘The British Association of Barbershop Singers’ to travel to Toronto, Canada, to represent Britain at the International Competition there in July, 2013. ‘It is a real honour to represent our organisation at this, the biggest Barbershop event in the world, it’s our equivalent of the World Cup ’ said Derek Dodman, Chairman of the Chorus, ‘but it means a lot of hard work, not only on the singing but in the planning and the raising of funds to help finance the trip’. New Chorus Director, Zac Booles, said ‘It is just wonderful to have been given the opportunity to lead the Chorus during this landmark year. The aim now is to get the vocal quality to an even higher plain ‘. Fund raising is important and the chorus does that best by singing. It is available to sing anywhere, anytime. If you are seeking an entertainment you should contact Peter on 01530243822 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. Any number of singers can be provided from four to forty. Fees are negotiable. Quality is guaranteed. Sponsorship is being sought. Anyone interested in sponsoring should contact Nelson on 07967091202|
|Open Night Poster The members of The Grand Central Chorus invite male singers to join them at their weekly rehearsal on Wednesday, 19th September, 2012, at 7.15pm in their regular venue Harrington School, Derby Road, Long Eaton, NG10 4BJ. You will experience close harmony at its best. Learn the mechanisms of the voice, how to blend with others, the importance of breath control and the secrets of harmony. Oh! you will have some fun as well. Whether you are an experienced singer or somebody who would like to improve your singing skills this evening is for you. Bring a friend, observers are welcome. Ring Martin on 07855270803, e-mail email@example.com to register your interest or just turn up on the night.|
The Chorus was performing at the Cedric Ford Pavilion at Newark on the 10th June. The Lincolnshire/Notts. branch of the Air Ambulance Service, a registered charity, was holding its annual gathering for its supporters and Grand Central were there as part of the entertainment. ‘The Air Ambulance are our chosen charity’ said Brian Sargent of the Chorus, who presented a cheque for two hundred and fifty pounds to the organiser Mr. Peter Aldrick .’ The money was half the proceeds from our 21st Birthday show held in March, the other half is going to the Leicester/Derby Section.’ The Chorus performed for half an hour receiving enthusiastic applause. ‘We were hoping to get a picture of the Chorus in and around the helicopter, but it had been called away by the time we finished’, said Brian, ’We had to make do with a ‘Noddy’ car that a local car recovery man displays for the charity. That was fun.’ The Chorus travels throughout the East Midlands singing at functions, charitable or otherwise. ‘We just love singing,’ said Mick White from Long Eaton, ‘and the harmonies in Barbershop are great, have a look on the website if you want to contact us for anything.’ If you are looking for an entertainment we can supply four to forty singers as required.
|The East Midlands wins gold. Singers show athletes the way to gold.|
The Grand Central Chorus ran away with the winner’s medal at The Barbershop Singers National Championships in Southport last week-end the 26th/27th May, 2012. ‘It was fabulous’ said Bryan Smith ‘I only joined seven months ago and here I am with a gold medal – terrific.’ The Long Eaton based chorus took the gold medal for the fifth time in their 21 year career. ‘I felt we were in with a chance’ said John Grant the Chorus Director, ‘We came third last year and I knew we’d improved but, so might the other Choruses.’ Martin York a long standing member of the Bass section said, ‘ It was nerve wracking, third place was announced, not us, then second, not us, then the brief wait for first place is a killer, gold or nothing, happily it was gold. The chorus were ecstatic.’ 2003 was the last time the Chorus had won Gold and many of the present membership took part in that event. The British Association of Barbershop Singers holds a National Convention annually. There is a Chorus and quartet competition, with most Choruses within the U.K. being represented. There were forty choruses competing this year, varying in size from seventeen men to sixty. Each Chorus is marked on their choice of music, presentation and, of course, quality of the singing. Grand Central chose to sing ‘I’ll Be Seeing You’ and ‘South Rampart Street Parade’ achieving an overall score of 79.1%.
|“Barbershop vocal harmony, as codified during the barbershop revival era (1940s – present), is a style of a cappella, or unaccompanied vocal music characterized by consonant four-part chords for every melody note in a predominantly homophonic texture. Each of the four parts has its own role: generally, the lead sings the melody, the tenor harmonizes above the melody, the bass sings the lowest harmonizing notes, and the baritone completes the chord, usually below the lead. The melody is not usually sung by the tenor or bass, except for an infrequent note or two to avoid awkward voice leading, in tags or codas, or when some appropriate embellishment can be created. Occasional traveling may be sung by fewer than four voice parts. According to the Barbershop Harmony Society (BHS), "Barbershop music features songs with understandable lyrics and easily singable melodies, whose tones clearly define a tonal center and imply major and minor chords and barbershop (dominant and secondary dominant) seventh chords that resolve primarily around the circle of fifths, while making frequent use of other resolutions." Slower barbershop songs, especially ballads, often eschew a continuous beat, and notes are often held (or sped up) ad libitum.The voice parts in barbershop singing do not correspond closely to the correspondingly named voice parts in classical music. Barbershop singing is performed both by men's and women's groups; the elements of the barbershop style and the names of the voice parts are the same for both”.|
|Thank You! The 21st Birthday Show on the 10th March was a great success. Thank you to all that came and made it so. The Derby Theatre was full of enthusiastic show goers. ‘We’ve never had such a big house for a show like this’ said one of the box office clerks. ‘A brilliant show, ten out of ten for entertainment,’ said an audience member. We were delighted that all the effort had been worthwhile. Ten new men have joined the Chorus recently and seven of them were singing in the show. ‘It was a wonderful experience’ said new member George Mackie ‘ I’ve sung and played guitar for years but performing with the Chorus has added a new dimension to my singing pleasure.’ By the time you read this they will have performed at St. Johns Church in Long Eaton and, at the moment, if you were to visit Harrington School, Long Eaton on the Wednesday evening rehearsal you would detect a frisson of excitement in the room. After the hard work and pleasures of the show they are getting down to more hard work, (and hopefully subsequent pleasures) preparing for the annual Barbershop convention. Once a year up to 40 of the Barbershop Choruses in the Country gather over one week-end to sing their hearts out. They compete for the Best Chorus gold medal. The Chorus managed a third place bronze medal last year so are working feverishly in the hope they may improve upon that. This year it is to be held in Southport on the week-end of the 25th – 27th May. If you are interested in quality Choral singing, in four part harmony, that is the place to be. We rehearse every Wednesday at 7.15pm in Harrington School, Derby Road, Long Eaton NG10 4BJ. Any men interested in singing contact Martin on 07855270803 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
Contact Brian Sargent, 11 Jessop Street, Waingroves, Ripley DE5 9TL. Tel. 01773749737.
This show is a celebration of Grand Central Chorus who has been performing top quality a cappella close harmony singing for twenty one years. Winning the U.K. National Barbershop Championship on four occasions, they have never been out of the top six! The venue is the Derby Theatre. Please follow the signs for Westfield Car Park. The basement car park is the best to use when visitng the Derby Theatre. www.derbylive.co.uk/findus.aspx Competition has taken them across the U.K. Europe and America, the latter to represent Britain in the Barbershop World Championships. Dale Diva, a ladies a cappella close harmony chorus, formed in 2007 has made a big impact on choral singing in their short life. The most public highlight was on TV winning the Channel 5 ‘Don’t Stop Believing’ talent show in 2010. In 2009 they gained 6th place and in 2011 5th place, in the ladies' national competition and in 2009 won two silver medals in Dublin, one for their singing, the other for their entertainment. Yesteryear are a group of a dozen men who mainly sing a capella but have been known to get out a ukulele now and then. They have been entertaining throughout the East Midlands for a number of years and are in much demand. Their 13th member is our compere for the evening, Mr. Len Matthews, a man well known throughout barbershop circles for his easy presentation manner and dry wit. The Great British Barbershop Boys got together in 2008 whilst in the National Barbershop Youth Chorus and eight months later became the British Champion Quartet. After signing a record contract with Sony they appeared live on a number of television shows in 2010, appeared in a charity fundraiser at the Royal Albert Hall and appeared at the London Palladium. A national tour followed which got much critical acclaim.