ManChorus aims to get men singing
Published on: 28 Nov 2015
WHERE have all the men gone? Despite the soaring popularity of community singing, that’s what they’re asking in Britain’s choirs, where the women outnumber the men by a large margin.
Now the people behind Bristol’s largest community choir, Gurt Lush, reckon they have the answer – ManChorus – and it’s starting in South Bristol.
Sam Burns, who is leading the new venture, explained: “Boys love singing in primary school but after that they get to thinking it’s not very cool.
“Boy bands are one thing, but singing in a choir is not seen as masculine.
“So after primary school a lot of men never go back to singing.”
But Sam is convinced that a lot of men would love to give their vocal chords a workout if only they had the chance.
“My theory is that there are hundreds and thousands of men up and down the country who are just waiting to be invited in,” he said. “We know blokes like singing – there’s no question. You just have to listen to a football crowd.
“The question is why they avoid the big mixed choirs so much,” he said.
ManChorus will be men only. Sam thinks it is probably very intimidating for a man who hasn’t sung in front of anyone for 30 years to walk into a choir of many women where his voice may be very noticeable.
“You have got to be a fairly brave bloke to go in and hold the bass line up more or less on your own!” said Sam.
ManChorus will build on the great traditions of the male voice in British culture – the Welsh male voice choirs and barbershop – while being much less formal.
There won’t be the strict dress code of the formal choirs and the songs will be wide and varied, from spirituals to world music and many other traditions.
It will also include some of the new songs that have been written for men to express the modern male condition – the delights of the garden shed and the smell of Swarfega, for example.
There is no audition and it doesn’t matter what standard you are: “This is designed for people who haven’t sung for 30 or 40 years,” said Sam. He believes the formula will be a winner and ManChoir will finish 2016 with around 100 members. They will mainly sing on their own but it’s hoped they will also contribute at concerts with the 250-strong Gurt Lush singers.
Sessions will be held at lunchtimes on Tuesdays at the Southville Centre from 12.30-2.30pm and at St Michael and All Angels church on Gloucester Road on Mondays from 7.30-9.30pm. Trial sessions are free and later ones cost about £7.
“It’s a great sound when you hear 100 men breaking into harmony,” said Sam. “We want the power of the football crowd with the sophistication of a Welsh male voice choir.”
Now there’s an ambition.