If you weren’t already convinced that joy is infectious, go and see The Phoenix Choir.
As the singing group make their ebullient entrance onto the stage for their premier at The Queen’s Hall, we can see we’re in for some fun.
This local Edinburgh based soul and gospel choir is led by Kat Brooks. Its sister choir is The Phoenix Community Choir, a fully inclusive non-audition all ability group. But there’s a strong sense of community in this choir (which does require audition for entry) too.
Each member’s individuality is allowed, and clearly encouraged to shine. The group is diverse in almost every way, and the visual variety this creates is a joy – in appearance, accessories and clothing, movement style and to some extent, vocal sounds. Many of the members beam through most of the show, radiating happiness to watchers.
There’s a necessary element of uniformity too. The numbers are choreographed, soaring harmonies and parts are well executed and finely drilled, while outfits are colour themed. There are better choirs out there, from a vocal perspective. But for a one city, amateur effort, they’re got pretty good voices. It’s clearly about much more than that though. It’s about how we feel watching them.
The show is called Raise It Up – and they do. It’s uplifting, especially the upbeat, uptempo celebratory, jubilant and victorious numbers. Some of the slower numbers and smaller group pieces are less effective, but these are to some degree a vehicles of opportunities to a larger number of the choir’s members.
The repertoire of Nu Soul, pop and gospel is in the main very well chosen, and is led with heart, enthusiasm and skill. A combination of better and lesser known songs maintain the mainstream wide appeal, with some quirkier mixes thrown in. These are ably accompanied by a three piece band, helping the choir to really rock it up.
By the end, most of the audience is on its feet. We sing, dance and clap to a celebratory arrangement of a Madonna song, as massive party poppers are launched overhead. After an encore we go home happy and inspired, having enjoyed a fun musical evening.
It’s well known that singing is good for mental health. But listening (not just singing along to) to the Phoenix Choir at Queen’s Hall proves to be good for health and wellbeing too.