On Monday 18th March, Southend Boys’ and Girls’ Choir sang onstage alongside Collabro at the Cliffs Pavilion, in Southend. Britain’s Got Talent winners Collabro, have invited youth choirs from across the UK to perform alongside them on their ‘Road to the Royal Albert Hall’ tour this year.
Southend Boys’ and Girls’ Choir, who are supported by the Jack Petchey Foundation through their Achievement Award Scheme, secured this incredible opportunity by applying to the group’s nationwide competition. In September, Collabro started their search for the best youth choirs across the country to join them onstage. The Southend choir applied for the opportunity and were selected as the lucky group to join Collabro at their show.
The Jack Petchey Foundation works to inspire and motivate young people to reach their full potential through grant-giving schemes in schools and youth clubs across London and Essex. They also fund various programmes to encourage young people to participate in new activities and explore exciting opportunities. Therefore, the Foundation fully supports the group’s initiative to give young people a platform to develop skills and present their talents.
Collabro, who all started their own journeys into the arts as members of youth choirs, thought up the idea as a way to offer opportunities to young people. Jamie, a member of Collabro, said: “If we’d have had the chance to perform alongside an established artist we’d have loved to. We just dearly wanted to give young people that opportunity, because we are able to.”
Fellow group member, Matt, explained how competitive the selection process was: “We had well over 300 choirs apply for slots on the 52 dates of the tour which was amazing. We sat with our team and watched all the videos everyone sent in – and made our selection. It was difficult as the standard was so high.”
Fellow member, Michael, explains how the Southend youth choir joined the group for two songs of their set. He said: “It’s great to have that wall of sound behind us. I also get a chance to chat with them onstage too, which can sometimes lead to some impromptu, funny or heart-wrenching moments.”
The group love to see the inspiring effect being able to perform onstage has on the young singers. Matt, said: “We love to see how elated the children are when they’re onstage with us. I think it’s beneficial for them to see that there is the opportunity to succeed, wherever you live in the UK.” Their support of youth choirs doesn’t stop at this tour either, Collabro’s Tom explains how the group has plans for this initiative to continue; “it creates such a buzz and the fans always love to see the children onstage with us. It’s a real talking point.”
This isn’t the first time the musical-theatre group have invited young singers to join them on stage. The Southend Boys’ and Girls’ Choir have been lucky enough to perform with the group at their last performance at the Cliffs Pavilion and, after a successful show, they were selected to return for the ‘Road to Royal Albert Hall’ tour.
Rosemary Pennington, the choir’s Accompanist, explains: “We were approached by Collabro’s agents last year and performed with them at the Cliffs. It was a great experience and when we saw they were doing another UK tour we applied to be considered. It’s a great experience to perform in a large theatre like the Cliffs Pavilion.”
A mixed group of 30 singers from both the Boys’ and Girls’ choirs were selected to perform at the show. They all got the chance to present their talent on stage alongside the group, as well as meet them during rehearsals and backstage. This opportunity will encourage the young performers to develop their performing skills and confidence on stage.
The youth choir offers local young people the chance to explore their performing arts skills, develop their confidence and form strong friendships too. They regularly sing at one-off performances, representing Southend by singing at venues from St Martin’s in the Field to the Royal Albert Hall in London to venues in Hong Kong and Australia!
Rosemary said: “The singers are part of a large team where everyone is working together to produce the finest performance wherever we are. Everyone supports each other and helps each other and there are many really strong friendship groups amongst the singers. The singers come from different schools and different backgrounds and there are no barriers to anyone who wants to join and become a member.”