Bicester singers have soul

By Sarah Edwards at

A Bicester arts charity is hoping to get the town singing with the launch of a new soul choir.

An invitation has gone out to residents across the town and surrounding villages to join in one of two free taster sessions and give the choir a try on Saturday, February 2, from 2pm to 4pm, or Thursday, February 7, from 7.30pm to 9pm.

Organised by arts charity OYAP, The Soul of Bicester Choir has been part funded by a grant from the National Lottery. The £10,000 grant will also be used to create a theatre studio at OYAP’s headquarters, at the former St Edburg’s School, Cemetery Road, Bicester.

OYAP Director Helen Le Brocq said: “There are so many good reasons for people to join the choir. “Singing is proven to have a positive impact on your health and well-being, but it’s also about socialising, making new friends, and people just getting together and having fun. This choir is for all ages and you don’t need to be able to sing as you will learn. Steph will make you sound amazing. Up until now OYAP has been about young people; but with this new venue we want to reach out to the people of Bicester and surrounding area to help transform it into a cultural hub for all.”

OYAP hope the choir will grow to about 50 members by the end of the year and be financially sustainable.Choir director, singing teacher and professional musician Steph Pirrie, who runs the successful Jericho choir and Singing Saturdays in Oxford, is the choir’s director, and the choir’s leaders are professional session singer Kelly Smith, and theatre musical director Rebecca Reid.

Steph, who was trained with Shirley Bassey’s teacher and internationally renowned voice specialist and author Gillyanne Kayes, said: “I grew up in Bicester and so feel really connected to the town. I know how important choirs can be in a community, when a choir flourishes the community flourishes as well.This choir is for everyone, no experience is required, and there’s no need to read music. Everyone is welcome and we will work to include everyone.”

The songs planned for the taster sessions are still under wraps, but with a wide range of genres to choose from, people could be trying their hand at pop, soul, jazz, folk or even some world music. The choir will be officially launched on Thursday, February 28, and sessions will run from 7.30pm to 9pm during term time.

For more information and to register for a taster session call 01869 602560, email admin@oyap.org.uk or go to www.oyap.org.uk