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Wanted: local vocal talent for Festival Hall re-opening

The Southbank Centre is looking for local residents to join its new Voicelab initiative to encourage the development of all kinds of vocal expression.

Voicelab – under the direction of Mary King from Channel 4's Musicality and Operatunity – will provide training and performance opportunities for all kinds of people from enthusiastic amateur to aspiring professional.

World-renowned bass-baritone Sir Willard White is Voicelab's patron.

"With a voice you have a unique musical instrument," says artistic director Jude Kelly.

"All over the world people sing for joy, in sorrow, protest and for fun. I want to provide an opportunity for would-be singers to explore repertoire other than classical and broaden their musical challenges at Southbank Centre."

Southbank Centre is looking for people of any background with a passion for any kind of singing – from classical to beatboxing – and a musical ear to come along to an Open Voice session on 24 and 25 February for a mass sing.

The first performance opportunities for Voicelab participants are the chance to train for and sing in the Royal Festival Hall's re-opening celebrations in June.
The re-opening will be celebrated with 48 hours of free music and singing, the Overture Weekend, when every part of the site will become a platform for music and performance. Choirs from all over the country will participate.

Mary King, Director of Voicelab said: "Voicelab presents a completely new world of opportunities for singers of all ages and musical interests to develop their musical and vocal potential, and to perform with the greatest artists of the world. We will nurture aspiring, emerging artists so that their talent can flourish, giving them opportunities that are normally not available to them."

Voicelab will comprise a number of vocal groups, each named after types of river movement in allusion to Southbank Centre's Thames-side location.


Surge will be a large choir of some 200 voices, trained by Voicelab, to take part regularly in Southbank Centre initiatives and performances. The first such opportunity is to perform during the Royal Festival Hall's re-opening weekend, on 8-10 June, including the chorus for Beethoven's Symphony No.9. A love of singing is essential and no choral experience is necessary.


For confident singers who want greater challenges, there will be the chance to audition for Swell, a chamber choir of 30-50 people. This choir will record an ambitious new work, War Oratorio, by Dominic Muldowney, which will form the backbone of a major new music film commissioned by Channel 4, and made by Oxford Film and Television. In June, Swell will be part of Royal Festival Hall's re-opening and in September will take part in a Southbank Centre performance of Paco Peña's Requiem for the Earth. This will also include a children's choir for which auditions will begin in the summer.


In September Voicelab will begin a year-long part-time course for 10-12 aspiring and talented singers, forming a core ensemble, Pulse. This will intersperse training modules with performance opportunities, providing an incredible resource of singers for Southbank Centre productions across all artforms. Course and audition information will be announced shortly.

In addition, Voicelab will train some of the 'youth ensemble' of Carmen Jones, a major feature of the re-opening of the Royal Festival Hall this summer. Directed by Jude Kelly, Carmen Jones will run from 25 July to 2 September and will continue the very successful producing collaboration between Southbank Centre and Raymond Gubbay.

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