Notorious bigger

Choir to raise Town Hall roof in twentieth anniversary celebrations.

Birmingham’s choir with a difference, notorious, is welcoming back members past and present to form its biggest choir-to-date for a special concert to mark 20 years since the choir was formed.

The non-audition choir, which is usually 35-strong, will grow its numbers to 75 for its biggest concert to date at Birmingham Town Hall, performing Fauré’s Requiem and Rutter’s Magnificat in an uplifting finale to its 20th anniversary celebrations on Saturday 25th November.

notorious was launched in 1997 by Musical Director Clare Edwards, whose artistic vision was to be different. She had three key aims: to be non-audition and open to all; to widen the audiences for choral music by performing a wide range of repertoire; and to perform in unusual venues.

From a tentative group of 15 singers in the first concert, the choir has grown both in size and confidence over twenty years, performing more than 120 concerts with music from Duruflé to Daft Punk, Mozart to Madness and Poulenc to Prodigy. 65 different venues have featured, the more unusual being a water-themed concert in a cave with the audience on barges, a Halloween-themed concert in a coffin factory, and joining the Bishop of Birmingham at Lifford Lane tip to promote not being wasteful at Christmas.

Championing new music has been an important focus too – the choir has performed in 14 new works, four of which were commissioned by, and for, notorious. Musical Director Clare Edwards said: “What makes notorious truly special is that choir is about more than just the music – it has brought together a group of like-minded individuals who have created strong friendships.

“Four choir balls, three tours, plus four choir weddings for those that met at choir, then married – who are all back for this special concert – are testament to the fact that we clearly enjoy being together. We even have my daughter, Ella Salt, who was the first choir baby to arrive, playing second violin in the orchestra.

“The average age of the choir may have increased over the last twenty years, but each year we recruit and retain new singers who are looking for that same thing which motivated setting the choir up in 1997, and who join the notorious family to be inspired to make music.”

Rachel Burrows, one of the founder members of the choir who still sings with notorious today, said: “I’m so proud of what notorious has achieved so far – it’s clear that we’ve more than met our founding aims. The music-making, the challenging repertoire, the amazing arrangements of popular tunes, the cameraderie, the laughter, the sense of achievement at pulling off a blinding performance, and the mental wellness that singing with a fabulous group of people promotes, is, quite simply, notorious.”