Rising Voices sing of the joy of life, the passion of emotion, the warm spirit of coming together in a shared endeavour focussed on beauty, love and hope - all things that a diagnosis of severe illness can put paid to in an instant. The bravery of the Rising Voices singers lies in their simple refusal to give up their passion, their love and their hope, and conducting them in the Big Sing workshops has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my professional life. What an honour to work with the tremendous energy and positive outlook this group engenders! The steadfast refusal to bow down under the weight of illness is immensely inspiring, and the atmosphere of mutual support and love of life is surely something impossible to over-value. The results of the skilful week-by-week leadership are plain to see: working with this group as a guest conductor each year, I become more and more amazed at what is possible in the hearts and minds of ordinary people in extraordinary circumstances. The healing of heart and soul is powerful to witness, and love and support generated through the music are quite simply phenomenal.
Gavin Carr Musical Director of Bournemouth Symphony Chorus, Bath Minerva Choir, Founder-Director of Chorus Angelorum, Chorus Master of the Philharmonia Chorus. Guest conducter of the BBC Symphony Chorus and the London Symphony Chorus
"The physical and consequent mental benefits of singing – essentially deep breathing and gentle exercise, coupled with the transcendental power of music – are very well-known to people like me who are fortunate to experience them daily as professionals. It is easy, then, to appreciate and applaud the dedication and enthusiasm of the generous individuals whose aim is to share these benefits with in a mutually supportive community through Rising Voices"
Stephen Gadd (International bass soloist)
When I was diagnosed with Ovarian Cancer it felt like my world had come to an end. Going through the chemotherapy the thought of playing my piano and singing didn't even enter my mind. I love singing, for me it is like praying, so I was not really allowing myself the things that had got me through so much in my life - composing and singing.
There are lots of great reasons to sing. It releases endorphins which make us feel good, it combats stress and negative emotions, and also gets oxygen into the blood leading to better circulation, and it makes us happy. It doesn't matter if you sing out of tune. Just sing.
At first it was hard for me, I felt exhausted. I wasn't prepared for the effects that the chemo would have – I couldn’t hit that high note. At some point we have to find that warrior inside of us - I just started with gentle breathing exercises, using the diaphragm to sing. It helps standing with knees slightly bent. Sliding up and down the scales, initially not worrying about individual notes I just concentrated at getting the power back.
My aim, no matter what, was to reach that high note. I set myself a challenge. 'The Greatest Love Of All' by Whitney Houston. Before chemotherapy, I would sail through it. Having this new focus was my positive way of dealing with cancer.
When I was singing, the pain would disappear - even if only for a few moments. I would channel all of my feelings, emotions.....and anger into every note. I felt I was connecting with 'me' again. Singing is so good for the soul. But I also had to learn when to stop; when to be gentle.
Almost two years on, I hit the high note and it wasn't long before I was back out gigging with Joe, my hubby and composing my own songs again.
I am now coming up to my fifth year clear of cancer, but every day is a celebration. Yes, I am still struggling with the fear of it returning - that cloud never really goes away, but that's natural and it's where we draw our strength from - being able to do the things we love and be who we really are in spite of the fear.
I read a quote from Jon Kabat Zinn that said "If you are breathing, there is more right with you than wrong".
So sing away. Sing straight from the heart, and reach that high note! -
Pauly Ortis (Singer song writer)
Singing is good for your health!
There are many physical and psychological benefits to singing. First of all, the deep breathing and gentle exercise required to sing using the diaphragm. The act of singing itself produces Endorphins- those "feel good" hormones that we produce when falling in love- or eating chocolate! It is also good for the immune system, and it lowers the blood pressure and improves lung capacity and posture.
Singing is a great community activity too- a wonderful way for people to come together and connect through the uplifting power of beautiful music. People have a sense of achievement and belonging to a community. Singing regularly with a proper technique can also reduce perceived pain in those who are ill or recovering from an illness. It is for all these reasons & more that Rising Voices is such a wonderful choir, and I have been fortunate to sing as soloist in a concert with them and hear them at work. Wishing all in this wonderful choir every success and future happiness & health. Sing for joy!
Lucy Braga BA Hons, CPGS (RSAMD)
Soprano (Opera Singer & Singing Teacher)