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Modern choirs for people who love to sing

The choir revolution

300,000 more people sing regularly than play amateur football each week, according to a new national survey from choral charity, Voices Now. Despite this, football receives £30m in government funding annually, compared to just £500,000 for choral groups.

The Big Choral Census aimed to find out how many choirs there are in the UK, what types of choir are represented, who sings in them and what sort of music they sing. Through conducting an online survey of over 3,200 choirs and collecting data from a range of national and regional organisations, Voices Now estimates that 2.14m people sing regularly in over 40,000 choirs. In 2006 there were around 25,000 choirs in the UK with a membership of only 0.5 million. 

In just over a decade, over 15,000 new groups have opened up and the membership has more than quadrupled.

So, what has changed or triggered this huge growth?

Gareth Malone's first series of "The Choir" aired in 2007, bringing choirs into the limelight. The US show "Glee" first aired in 2009, which further showed that group singing wasn't just for schools and churches. The dates can surely be no coincidence.

However, this is not to say that it's only recently choral singing has become popular or profitable - The Fron Male Voice Choir, the Monks and Only Men Aloud for example. They've all sold a substantial number of albums; both the Denbighshire-based Fron and the Monks (a group of Cistercians from a monastery near Vienna) have shifted more than a million albums, and Only Men Aloud (winners of the BBC talent series Last Choir Standing) went platinum. At all ends of the scale, choirs and groups are recording their music and bringing it to the masses. We entered the download charts in 2015, and sold around 1,500 copies of the charity single "Praise You - Livin' on a Prayer", recorded at Abbey Road (both songs are still available on iTunes if you haven't got your copy!).  Only Men Aloud and the Monks came to prominence in 2008 near the start of the new choir revolution, and inChoir launched in 2009...while Fron Male Voice Choir started way back in 1947! 

Choirs and vocal groups vary in size from a small room of singers to groups of choirs and franchises which span the country. For example: one UK-wide group acts as an ‘umbrella’ choir made up of smaller choirs and individuals, offering singers the opportunity to take part in unique large-scale choral concerts at the Royal Albert Hall - their performing choirs are between 1,000 and 3,500 strong. On a far smaller scale (but no less commendable) a London-based choir for mums meets in 4 locations each week and only requires a minimum of 10 singers a term. We are extremely proud that we now have well over 1,000 members across our 14 branches in Surrey, Sussex and Kent!

There are vocal groups for every walk of life, for every genre you could wish to sing. Community choirs, choral societies, modern choirs and church choirs rub shoulders with new categories including choirs relating to health and social wellbeing, socially engaged choirs and even ‘tuneless choirs’ for people who ‘can’t sing’. In every town, there are multiple choirs and it's all about finding the right one for you. The one with songs you enjoy, that suits your personality and has jokes you look forward to every week (or is that an inChoir perk?). 

Millions of people across the UK love to sing; this is what brings us all together every week in tens of thousands of rooms across the country. Not only that, but many choirs have travelled far and wide, singing to new audiences and making new friends. inChoir members have already been to Cornwall and Edinburgh this year, and travel to Liverpool in October.

Since 2006 there has been a surge of interest in group singing and, whatever the reason or trigger, we are grateful for it!

Twitter: @inchoir
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