Working with community choirs throughout Sussex, Emily Barden knows just what an impact a choir can have. So when she was approached by the team behind the Priory Park 100, a group dedicated to commemorating the centenary of Priory Park being given to the people of Chichester, she knew in a heartbeat how she wanted to use a choir in the closing ceremony.
“When they asked me what I thought we could do, my reply was that 100 years needed 100 voices. Consisting of 100 singers from across the local area, this is a bespoke, one-off choir,” she said, admitting that she is delighted with the project, which will see her choir singing in Priory Park on Sunday, September 30, at 11.30am as part of a special Drum Head Service.
So what can people expect from her unique band of troubadours?
“Look forward to some beautiful acapella singing, alongside rousing anthems, traditional song and a good old fashioned sing-a-long,” Emily advised, going on to explain how singing is one of our oldest forms of marking occasions.
“And singing with other people is a truly uniting experience. It brings people together and allows people to raise their voice in harmony with others, expressing what is often inexpressible in any other way. The Priory 100 Choir is non-auditioned and enables people to experience this ‘oneness’ of choral singing in a fun, safe, supportive environment.”
As a singer herself, Emily knows the benefits of belting out a song or two.
“Singing is scientifically proven to be beneficial in so many ways. With choirs there is the social aspect of regularly meeting up with people and making music together, but there is also the physical and mental wellness that has been particularly highlighted in recent years. Singing is great for breathing and connecting to your body; it actually makes the two sides of your brain function together, which has great benefits for memory skills and other neurological function. Singing makes you feel better! It releases feel good hormones and increases energy levels. I always leave a choir session feeling more rejuvenated than when I arrived, a sentiment that I know is shared by others. Above everything, singing in a choir is fun, and laughter is great medicine!”
Promising a mix of solemnity, cheering and beautiful music as part of the Priory Park service (which also includes a pigeon release, the reading of names of local fallen soldiers by pupils of Parklands Community Primary School and a waterfall of poppies), Emily hopes that people attending might be inspired to join a choir.
“I’d also like them to be reminded why we continue mark memorable occasions through music, song and singing,” she added.
Find out more about Emily’s community choirs: www.westsussexsings.com
Priory Park 100 marks 100 years since the 7th Duke of Richmond gave the Park to the people of Chichester for the purpose of recreation and to honour those who had fallen in the First World War. More details: www.priorypark100.com.