Henley Big Sing Strikes a Harmonious Chord in Henley

Henley was in for a harmonious Saturday thanks to the inaugural Henley Big Sing event. Organized by the Henley Choral Society, this musical extravaganza brought together residents of all ages to experience the joy of singing together.

The brainchild of Richard Harker (Musical Director of The Henley Big Sing), the event aimed to provide the community with an opportunity to unite their voices and explore the magic of group singing. Richard said, “Many people love singing along to their favorite tunes on the radio, in the shower, or at the pub. But they never get the opportunity to find out what it’s like to sing in a large, friendly group, or to see if they can actually develop their voice. We wanted to put that right!”

The Henley Big Sing was born out of a desire to celebrate the Henley Choral Society’s 50th anniversary in 2023, whilst also fulfilling their mission to share the joy of singing with the community. Held at the Town Hall, the event offered two sessions: the morning session, from 10:30am to 12:00pm, was open to adults and those aged 12 and above, whilst the afternoon session, from 2:30pm to 3:15pm, was dedicated to children aged 7-11.

The Henley Big Sing proved to be a resounding success with participants of all ages, with a spectacular turnout for both the morning and afternoon sessions. The children made their enjoyment of the event clear, enthusiastically belting out songs like ‘Believer’ by Imagine Dragons, ‘Under the Sea’ from Little Mermaid, and ‘How Far I’ll Go’ from Moana. Each of the songs in the children’s session came with accompanying actions, for added entertainment. The chorists were supported by a band of musicians: Anita D’Attellis on keyboards, Sam Wilkinson on drums, and Andy Crowdy on bass.

Lottie, a 9-year-old participant from Rupert House School, said, “I found it really fun, with all the singing and fun moves. My favourite song was probably Believer; that was fun. I just like the pulse and movement of it. I do violin, so I don’t really do singing – I do music. It was nice to sing. I used to sing in a choir.”

Notably, the event garnered the support of broadcaster and adventurer Ben Fogle, who commented, “As a local resident, I am absolutely delighted to support The Henley Big Sing. It’s a great idea. Singing is very good for mental and physical health, and anything that brings families and communities together is a positive. Sing your hearts out Henley!”

Dr. Tim Wilson, Chair of the Henley Choral Society, expressed his delight in the event’s success. He said, “What a fantastic event! The morning session for adults and over 12s was full, and we had 74 children aged 7-11 in the afternoon. Everyone sang their hearts out. We are so appreciative of the talents of Musical Director, Richard Harker who led both events so brilliantly and to our musicians on the day. People have come and told me how much they enjoyed it and that they feel so uplifted and energised. We have had lots of people asking if we can please make it a regular event. We will have to wait and see!”

Tim expressed gratitude to the event’s supporters, including Henley Town Council, Gold Sponsors like Davis Tate, Courtiers, and Beaufort Financial, and local businesses, JJ (Jayson Jaurigue) Founder of 8Ray Group and The Green Room in Henley. The Gwyn Arch Foundation also played a pivotal role by providing a grant to support the afternoon session for children. Additionally, the event was used to raise funds for Riverside Counselling Service, a local charity providing affordable counselling for the community.

The Henley Big Sing left a lasting musical impression on Henley, demonstrating the inescapable joy of singing in a group. If you would like to sing regularly with Henley Choral Society on a Monday, or with their Youth Choirs on a Thursday, see their website for details – there are no auditions! To stay updated on upcoming events or to get involved, visit www.henleychoralsociety.org.uk.


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