LVM Annual General Meeting – 14.09.2021, 19:00

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  1. Welcome and apologies

Committee present: Rosena Stevens, Florence Mather, Thomas George, Jo O’Hea

Choir members present: Scott Wiseman

  1. Manager’s update (Rosa)
    1. Virtual rehearsals

We had fortnightly rehearsals Spring 2020-Summer 2021 to keep an opportunity for the choir to sing together, with pay as you feel donations. The rehearsals were attended by roughly ⅕ of members. 

In conjunction with those rehearsals, we managed to virtually perform two pieces, Seal Lullaby and Let It Free.

  1. Venue changes and COVID guidelines

Since starting in-person rehearsals again, we are singing in Yorkshire Dance, however we are currently looking into using studio space at Leeds City College, which we may be able to use from January 2021 if not before.

The COVID guidelines we have in place for rehearsals will remain for this term in both Yorkshire Dance and elsewhere, as they are a committee decision to keep members safe and comfortable; however, the guidelines will be discussed in advance of next term. In addition, Leeds City College has bigger spaces, which would allow for the possibility of a higher maximum of socially-distanced attendees.

  1. Committee updates

Since the last Annual Meeting, Holly stepped down as Social Media Officer, Francesca stepped in as Communicator (formerly Social Media Officer) and Emma stepped in as Open Seat (advisory role) with a focus on Events and Activities.

Rosa is stepping down as Manager/Chair and Librarian, and as of yet both roles are still available. In the meantime, committee members will share the duties of both roles, including two Subcommittees: Librarian Subcommittee led by Rosa, with Flo and Jo; and Events Subcommittee led by Emma, with Rosa, Flo and Thomas.

Rosa is staying on committee as a Trustee and as Open Seat: HR, and will still show as the Chair on the Charity Commission website.

  1. Staffing updates

Caitlin will be going on maternity leave in October, and will be returning in the Spring 2022 term. We are holding auditions for her substitute on Wednesday 22nd September, during the first half of the rehearsal. We will be asking you for your feedback on the auditions during the second half. 

  1. Finance report (Sally)

The financial position of LVM at the end of the year is good – we continued to maintain a level of reserves throughout the pandemic due to the pay-as-you-feel donations from members throughout, and managed our costs by focussing on music we already own. We were also successful in gaining a grant from the D’Oyly Carte foundation which will enable us to run three virtual workshops this year (the first of which was yesterday!)

The budget for this year is conservative as we build back up to full rehearsals and performances, and we’re focussing on ensuring we have a good space for rehearsals and expert leaders to help the choir come back to full strength. 

  1. Music (Rosa)

Due to budget constraints, this year we will focus on pieces we already have. This includes music we bought for our virtual rehearsals, music we performed several years ago and music we started but weren’t able to perform at the 2021 Summer Concert. One exception is the green Carols for Choirs books that have been hired for Autumn 2021, which we hope to use for busking opportunities. 

As we have started to give out music that we have bought (And So It Goes, Sussex Carol, O Magnum), we ask you to only write in pencil and take extra care as they are more difficult to buy again. 

We are expecting you to still have your music from Spring 2020, and will be using some of that music in future terms. If you have misplaced your music during the pandemic, please let me, Jo or Flo know via email or Facebook, so we know who will need music we will be singing in Spring/Summer 2022. 

If you haven’t got a black folder and would like one, please send through a deposit of £10 along with your first installment of fees. 

  1. Publicity (Jo)

It’s been great being back for in person rehearsals, but unfortunately we’ve not been able to welcome prospective new members to the choir because of social distancing and us prioritising welcoming back our current members. Due to this and us having a full waiting list, for the moment we’ve taken the decision to close the waiting list. To reflect this, I’ve closed the “I want to sing!” page on the website. We’ll be monitoring the situation closely so if you have friends or family who want to join we won’t be able to welcome them for a while but please get them to keep an eye on our socials and on the website to see when we are next recruiting.

  1. Communications (Fran)

The choir has 30 current members who are attending rehearsals this term. There are a further 21 members who have chosen not to return to choir, who we will be inviting back once we are able to open rehearsals to more people. 

We currently have 42 people on our waiting list who are not currently members, but are interested in joining the choir when a spot opens. When we are able to host our next open rehearsal, we hope to be able to invite a few people to join us.

  1. Fundraising (Thomas)
    1. Project Funding 

Through much of 2020 and early 2021, many funds similar to those that we’ve previously received funding money from understandably tightened their budgets and either stopped giving grants or limited their grants to charities directly affected by or dealing with the pandemic. As a committee we continued to seek funding through this period, and managed to obtain a grant for £1875 from the D’Oyly Carte Charitable Trust, specifically to put towards the running of three online workshops. The first of these workshops took place last night, which was hosted by Caitlin and focused on the basics of sight singing. The other two workshops with take place in the upcoming year – more to be announced closer to the time!

We are starting to see a number of trusts and funds open up their funding again, and derestrict the charities that they’ll fund, so will step up our efforts in the coming months, hopefully focusing on securing some unrestricted funding if possible.

  1. Sponsorship opportunities

We are also starting to actively seek sponsorships. This has been a long term plan, but due to the pandemic we didn’t have an awful lot to offer any company looking to potentially sponsor us in terms of performance opportunities where they can be seen, so put this side of fundraising on hold. Now we are able to meet in person again, both for rehearsals and socials, we’ll begin to seek sponsorship from local businesses again. This could take a number of forms – they could give us money to put their name on our posters and flyers and be visible at any performance opportunities for example, or they might sponsor a social event and give discounted rates to members. If anyone here knows of any good local businesses who may be interested in any form of sponsorship with LVM, please let me know and I’ll gladly get in touch!

  1. Socials (Flo)

Most of this year we have held virtual socials. From October, we began monthly virtual film nights which allowed us to watch a film together, a low effort way to socialise! We also held a virtual Christmas carol concert during a Saturday afternoon in December, followed by a virtual Christmas quiz that evening and exchange of Secret Santa gifts. These were well attended and really enjoyable – especially as a replacement for our usual in person busking and Christmas dinner.

Over the summer we sent out a survey to discern what kinds of socials people might like to do, and pub trips were most popular. We held pub trips most weeks over the summer break, a great way to keep in touch with each other prior to in person rehearsals starting up again.

  1. Events (Emma)
    1. Virtual Workshops

Our first virtual workshop last night proved to be a real success! We’ve had some really lovely, positive feedback and as a committee we are looking forward to planning another virtual workshop in the next few months (there are some exciting possibilities). 

  1. December performance opportunities

We’re hoping to get out there busking and bringing festive cheer once again to the people of Leeds which is so exciting! We hope to go ahead with busking on several dates in December but we will hold off from confirming these as the situation on what we’re able to do could change at any time and with Covid rates still high our priority remains keeping our choir safe. This same thought applies to any potential concert we hold this winter. We will want to see how singers, and our new associate musical director, feel about the idea of a concert after such a short time back and while we are still in the midst of a pandemic. If we do go ahead with the concert this is highly likely to be on the 20th/ 21st December so it may be worth pencilling in the date for now and we will keep you updated very soon with what’s happening.  As our funds are lower than previous years we need to ensure that this is a viable opportunity for the choir so we are currently looking at affordable venues. We’ll keep you all updated over the next couple of Months!

  1. Any other business

Rosa: I enjoyed my time as Manager and Librarian. The choir has grown a lot since taking on the roles and I’m leaving the position with it far more established than when I took the helm. Thanks to committee, Caitlin, Sylvia and for their amazing support and friendship, and choir members for helping to make great music together.


Virtual Workshops : Artist Brief

Leeds Vocal Movement are looking for talented musical professionals to work alongside our choir and create engaging virtual workshops which give our community the opportunity to learn more about choral music. 

This year we have funding available to create three bespoke virtual workshops. 

What are we looking for?

We love working with anyone who is as passionate about choral music (of any genre) as we are! We welcome proposals for any type of workshop you would like to run, as long as it fits into our model:

  • A live session of between one and two hours, led on a virtual platform, allowing our members and the public to learn directly from you. This session should be structured to include some content which we can record and retain to share with our members in the future.
  • Creation of any supporting materials for your workshop, including any recordings or backing tracks (we have excellent contacts who can collaborate on this area)

While we are open to any suggestion, we are particularly keen to host a workshop on music-reading for singing, and any genre-specific workshops. 

What will you get out of it?

It’s a paid gig, and we have provisionally set aside £350 for the creation and delivery of the session, with an additional £200 for post-production. We can negotiate within these bounds if you are interested in both delivering and editing the session yourself. 

We have a budget set aside for marketing and promotion, and you will be referenced on all our outreach materials as well as our website. We have a membership of over 50 paying members, and typically advertise to between 300 and 500 young musicians in the Leeds area.

You also get a lot of support when working with Leeds Vocal Movement, both from our dedicated committee and from our network of local professionals. If you haven’t led a workshop session of this type before, don’t be put off getting in touch – there is a lot we give back to our collaborators!

Who are we?

Leeds Vocal Movement is an unauditioned choir that aims to offer high quality musical opportunities for adults between 18 and 35; by targeting this age group, we bridge the gap between youth choirs and choral societies.

Our objectives are to advance the musical education of people aged between 18 and 35, and to advance and improve public engagement of choral music. These objectives are reflected in our activities; we provide musical education to our members through weekly rehearsals, in which we teach musicianship through a range of techniques, including the Kodaly method. Our projects are also aimed at improving musical education; we hold regular workshops in sight-reading and choral techniques, and our internship programme provides skills to early-career musicians, and improves the choir’s training. We have improved our public engagement through concerts, public performances and collaborations with the local arts scene, and free open rehearsals and choral workshops. 

Who’ve we worked with before?

Our workshops have included Neil Balfour (Sing for Pleasure Master Conductor), on vocal techniques and applying them to music, Katy Cooper (Chapel Music Director, Glasgow University) on choral conducting, and Anna Weister Andersson (choral expert) on the genre of gospel music.

All sounds great…how do I apply?

If you like what you’re reading and think you have a workshop that is right for Leeds Vocal Movement, then please get in touch with us by emailing your proposal to manager@leedsvocalmovement.co.uk. In your proposal please include:

  • A short personal introduction, including any qualifications and relevant experience
  • An overview of your proposed session
  • Any supporting materials you intend to create or have created for the session

Please limit proposals to a maximum of two pages.

The deadline for submitting proposals is Tuesday 31st August at 11:59PM

We look forward to hearing from you soon!


Seal Lullaby – Eric Whitacre

Leeds Virtual Movement’s rendition of Eric Whitacre’s “Seal Lullaby”

internship, Uncategorized

Katie McKinnon – Apprentice Conductor 2018/19

Katie was our apprentice conductor for 2018/2019. It was so nice to have her in the LVM community; she has a big personality and puts a lot of herself into the music she conducts. When she left she wrote us a letter highlighting her favourite parts of the year which you can read below. It was an absolute pleasure to have her on board and we wish her all the best in the future!

Dear Leeds Vocal Movement, 

I want to let you know how much I appreciated the opportunity to be your apprentice conductor last year through this wee blog post, and let you know some of my favourite things about LVM.

My favourite musical moment in LVM was conducting Northern Lights by Ola Gjello in the Christmas Concert 2018. I never saw myself as a “classical” conductor because most of my conducting experience before LVM was with popular, music theatre or a capella music. However when Caitlin asked me to choose which pieces I would like to conduct for the Christmas concert I was drawn to Northern Lights. The piece was inspired by Aurora Borealis (the northern lights) and is performed in Norwegian. Conducting this piece was difficult in terms of my conducting technique, there are several time signature changes and pauses and lots of dynamics, but by working with Caitlin in individual lessons and the choir member’s excellent musicality we pulled it off magnificently. I had lots of wonderful feedback from audience members. Northern Lights sounds like winter without sounding like Christmas and I appreciated the contrast with the other piece I conducted – Let it Snow – which sounds wonderfully like roast reindeer with a side of mistletoe. 

One of the biggest highlights of being a member of Leeds Vocal Movement is the social side – I was greeted with open arms by LVM and have made life-long friends (they helped me discover ale – I’m now a big fan). There are so many interesting people to meet out there, and us millennials can feel lonely and find it difficult to meet new people and make friends, but with LVM everyone is accepted and has a place. For example: I broke my ankle in January and only missed two rehearsals because choir members helped me get in and around Leeds in my wheelchair/crutches (big shout out to Dan – you are so kind and I miss our car chats! #folkislife). 

I was sad to leave LVM this year because of all the connections I had made and how much my artistry had grown and blossomed, but I got a dream job, so I moved to Essex. I am now the Learning and Participation Coordinator for a large concert hall called Saffron Hall. We have so many interesting musicians that visit, including Britten Sinfonia, London Philharmonic Orchestra, and The Sixteen just to name a few.  LVM set me in good stead for full-time work, through things like: regular meetings with Rosa, having to manage my own schedule, a formal but friendly application and interview process, and learning to communicate with lots of different people. I really enjoyed my time with LVM and learning new skills from Caitlin and although I’m not conducting at the moment, I am still singing, I have a job that I love, and I’m pretty proud of myself. 

Thanks for the laughs, miss you all.

Katie XOXO

joining the choir, SATB choir, Uncategorized

All About That Bass: Life in LVM by Alex White

Having previously sung in a choir and barbershop during my school years, it wasn’t until after university that I decided to pick up singing again. After a quick ‘google search’ for choirs in Leeds I found Leeds Vocal Movement and decided to inquire and maybe give it a shot.

Rosa was very welcoming and after one rehearsal I was hooked! And after sticking with it, to this day we have covered multiple genres and emotive music led by our very enthusiastic conductor Caitlin.

Leeds Vocal Movement singing led by Caitlin

Personally I think it is great to do some midweek singing and get rid of the stresses of the day. I always feel more refreshed the next day. It runs like any society would at university with multiple socials throughout the year and the pub after rehearsal. Can safely say it is worth it!

choir social

Choir Trip to Tropical World, Roundhay Park

Recently we had one of our summer socials at Roundhay Park and Tropical World. The day after the Ed Sheeran concert, thank god.

Luckily, the weather stayed sunny and we had a great time at Tropical World, some of us reliving our childhood.

Choir manager and alto Rosa looking lovely amongst the leaves!
Treasurer and tenor Sally becoming one with nature!

The meerkats were dozing in the sand looking as cute as always, must have had full stomachs.

Walking around Roundhay Park seeing the aftermath of the concert, we were still able to enjoy the scenery (if you looked the other way) and walk round the lake with a spot of lunch at the lake side cafe.

Not long to go until our voices all fire up again !

We think this fish was getting ready to sing!
internship, joining the choir, SATB choir

More Than Just Accompanying by Sylvia Jen

As a pianist, I have accompanied soloists, ballets, musicals, and various kinds of ensembles, but never an adult’s choir, only children’s or youth choirs. I was finally given the chance to accompany an adult’s choir when I was appointed the accompanist intern to Leeds Vocal Movement. And what a journey it has been!

I learnt many things during my time with the choir. The first major thing is seeing the Kodaly method in action, which Caitlin (our amazing choir conductor) uses to hone the skills of the choir to help them pitch and tune more accurately as a group. It works wonders as the choir became better at keeping in tune without the aid of the piano as the year went on. I knew about the Kodaly method and the Solfege system, but have never used it to learn or teach music. Working with LVM has opened my eyes to the benefits of the system, and I’ve started to apply some of Caitlin’s techniques in my own teaching (I teach piano to kids). Caitlin has been keen to offer advice as well which just goes to show the open sharing culture of this friendly choir community.

Secondly, I got better at sight-reading, particularly four-part and sometimes six-part choral music! Even though this is an unauditioned choir, the quality of singing and complexity of music is not lacking. Certainly, not all the music that we sing is highly complex, as we learn pieces from all kinds of genres. However, I did find that I was playing more complex music than I had done for youth choirs, which really pushed my boundaries and I’m grateful for the challenge.

Lastly, I learnt about all sorts of things that are non-music related as the choir members come from various backgrounds, some are musically trained, though most are not. This makes for really vibrant and interesting conversations, which one can always find at the weekly pub gatherings after choir rehearsals.

I love that this choir isn’t just about singing and performing choral music (and me accompanying that), but it’s a community of like-minded people that come together to learn, socialise, and enjoy music-making, and I’m so proud to be a part of that!

choir venue

New Term, New Us

It’s a new year in the world of Leeds Vocal Movement, and we’ve had a busy first couple of months. Our membership has grown, we’ve already performed once in the wonderful Left Bank choir festival, and we’ve moved to a new rehearsal venue, which is also going to be our home for our upcoming Christmas Concert on December 15th.

We are now based in the amazing St John the Evangelist church, in the heart of Leeds city centre. Don’t be surprised if you’ve never heard of it though – it is tucked away behind the St John’s Centre (which takes its name from the church) and surrounded by a quiet churchyard which is a haven for those in the know.

Inside St John’s (photo courtesy of LeedsInspired)

St John’s is a venue owned and managed by the Churches Conservation Trust (CCT), a charity which works to protect historic church buildings nationwide. They preserve spaces like St John’s and allow them to continue forming a part of the community, by being used for all kinds of diverse activity – including our choir rehearsals! We have loved rehearsing in St John’s over last few months, and in the new year we are planning a concert in aid of the CCT, to support the work they do for our historic buildings.

The oldest church in the city centre, St John’s is a spectacular building now hidden behind the urban landscape of Leeds. Step inside though, and you are greeted with a genuinely surprising interior. It has a Jacobean carved wooden screen and fittings, including wall panels, pews, and pulpit. Our regular rehearsal space is behind the screen, though we will be in front of it during our concert.

We’re proud to work with the CCT in such a great venue, and we’re excited to share it with you as well! Tickets for our concert are available now, so we look forward to seeing you there!