Wow! I just had the most amazing weekend in Valenza,  Italy – 2 days of workshops with the London Community Gospel Choir culminating in a concert on Sunday night. It was a real privilege to be a part of this wonderful weekend.

Friday evening was club night and we all headed off to Alessandria to party, the highlight of which was V9 Collective and Annette Bowen singing into the early hours.

The next morning we were all up early, despite the late night, eager to start the workshops. Bazil Meade and his team from LCGC, Waleed, Annette and Christina, were outstanding, teaching a choir formed just for the weekend. This comprised of our hosts, The Joy Singers Choir, and their guests from a number of other Italian gospel choirs plus a handful of overseas guests including myself and Gel from Nyodema’s World Community Choir from England.

Listen to Bazil Meade and LCGC singing one of Bazil’s compositions before teaching it to the workshop group….  ‘Where do I go?’

We learnt a number of inspiring songs, all in three parts as is the tradition with gospel music. Waleed conducted the men, Annette the altos and Christina the sopranos, all overseen by Bazil at the piano. It was wonderful to watch how the LCGC tutors lead and inspired the singers, with such energy and passion that, in no time at all, the singing was sounding amazing. It was fascinating to see how good conductors can lead a choir singing gospel in a free format, where it is not predetermined how many times each part should be repeated, by using visual and oral cues to signify which part of the song should be repeated next and how it should be sung. Each member of the choir had to pay keen attention to the conductor. They worked us hard but it was immensely enjoyable throughout.

Listen to the choir workshop group rehearsing…    “I Feel the Spirit”

Meanwhile other tutors from LCGC were working with another group new to singing gospel and I’m sure they were having as much fun as we were.

By Sunday evening we were ready for the concert held in a beautiful theatre in Valenza. I couldn’t help but grin from ear to ear as we clapped, swayed and sang our hearts out. What a joy! And once our section of the evening had finished we returned to our seats and watched LCGC do what they do best – sing the house down!

Stephanie, Annette, Waleed, Christina and Andrea from the London Community Gospel Choir, Gospel@Valenza 2011

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