Handfuls of Harmony is now entering its fifth year as a community choir, having started in the summer of 2013, with support from the Co-operative Community fund. Subsequent funding from the Barry and Peggy High Foundation and the Big Lottery People’s Millions enabled us to support a number of new ideas for choirs in BS3, which resulted in the involvement of all the schools in BS3 (and surrounding post code areas), the development of a choir for the residents of Monica Wills House, singing sessions at Amerind Grove and Fosseway School, and the launch of a new choir called “Family and Friends” to enable parents/carers to sing together with their children.
A pattern has been established where the Handfuls of Harmony choirs come together for a concert in May and November, and many of these concerts have filled St. Paul’s Church (and previously St. Francis Church) to capacity. Around 200 children are involved from the local primary schools each term and the adult choir has a membership of between 50 and 60 people. It has been a real success story for BS3 and for the South West Bristol Co-operative Learning Trust which provides the base for the core, adult choir at Ashton Park School.
Ali Orbaum has been the Musical Director since it all started in 2013, and has provided the inspirational catalyst for the development of the various choirs that make up Handfuls of Harmony. Over the years Ali has worked with a brilliant team of choir leaders, including Oli Poole, Douglas Watts, Sarah Scott, Julia Turner, Chris Morgan and Sophie Westerwijk. After the June 2017 concert at St. Paul’s church, Ali decided to hand the relay baton of Musical Director to Julia Turner, who is now responsible for the co-ordination of the songs and the leaders for the respective choirs. Chris Morgan and Sophie Westerwijk will share the primary school choirs with Julia.
Ali continues to lead the adult choir that meets on Thursday evenings at Ashton Park School and Roger White continues to be the Trustee of the South West Bristol Co-operative Learning Trust (SWBCLT) with overall responsibility for the whole Handfuls of Harmony project, working in tandem with Debbie Scroggs and Julie Radnedge in the SWBCLT office in Ashton Park school, Edward Huxley who manages the website, Richard Higgs who designs the posters and CD covers, and David Butt, who co-ordinates the arrangements with the concert venues.
During the autumn term the core adult choir will continue to meet on Thursday evenings at Ashton Park School (starting 14th September), preparing for the concert on Saturday 11th November, which will also involve children from the seven primary schools (Ashton Gate, Ashton Vale, Compass Point, Luckwell, Parson Street, Southville and St. Mary Redcliffe), together with members of the teen choir, Lush Voices and members of Family and Friends choir.