Our choir leader Helen Hayes trained as a primary school teacher at Nottingham Trent University and taught in Nottingham, Derby and Leicestershire until 2002. She began conducting children’s choirs and this led to her working for Music for Everyone as their principal conductor for Vocals, a children’s choir of more than 200. Helen left teaching to become a full-time freelance animateur in 2002. An animateur has been described as someone who helps audiences to appreciate musicians and music in new ways and helps them to enjoy music that they may not be familiar with. They also help the musicians as they develop techniques for reaching out to their communities and encourage as many people as possible to engage with music and music related activities.
Helen has been involved in a variety of exciting projects working with London Symphony Orchestra, on a project with excluded pupils in Nottingham, music workshops at Foston Hall Women’s Prison, drugs awareness projects in secondary schools, an action research project with early years in Leicestershire and taking a schools music workshop in China.
Helen is a member of the international competition choir Choros Amici, winners of Sainsbury’s Choir of the Year 2000. She has performed in the Royal Albert Hall London, in Hyde Park with Pavarotti, on Songs of Praise and taken part in many international choir competitions in Ireland, France, Spain and Finland enjoying much success. She has also part of a Christian singing group 8ctave, described as a “unique vocal ensemble of priests in the Diocese of Leicester.” Helen was ordained as a priest in 2011 in Leicester Cathedral. She has also launched The Sound Cafe, a project for the homeless in Leicester, links to these projects and the churches in the community of Groby can be found below.
Groby Sings started in 2013 when Rev. Helen Hayes launched the project whilst a curate working in the area. It was expected to be a small community choir. “The response for Groby Sings has been completely amazing,” said Helen, “I had thought that I would be lucky to get 40 people involved and after only 3 rehearsals we already have over 210 people singing.”
For the first season we sang a selection of songs from Oliver and Les Miserables at Groby Community College, with a second concert date added due to the demand for tickets. To our great delight and through a lot of hard work from volunteers, it was agreed that Groby Sings could continue.
Each season the songs are chosen on a theme often inspired by a favourite musical of Helen’s. Further songs are then added from a wide variety of eras and styles; sometimes the link to the theme is tenuous but they reflect the age range of our choir (from 7 to over 90 years old) and their differing musical experience. The music is arranged by Paul Cox, our concert pianist, for up to four parts although most of the songs are sung in unison and there is always a melody line for those who prefer to stick to something familiar. The choir has also premiered some of Paul’s choral compositions.
Singers are invited to perform but it is not obligatory; they are welcome to come along and enjoy Monday rehearsals without singing at the concerts. Costumes are encouraged although singers may dress in casual clothes in the suggested colour scheme for the theme. Concerts are often sell outs to audiences of over 300 of our family, friends, neighbours and local residents. Some have been to every one!
Season after season followed:
2013: Groby Sings Christmas
2014: Groby Sings Oklahoma and Grease
& Groby Sings On Ice – including songs from Frozen
2015: Groby Sings Goes West – songs from West Side Story and other American hits.
& Groby Sings Goes to Town –including songs from My Fair Lady and Mary Poppins.
2016 Groby Sings ABBA and The Beatles
& Groby Sings goes Technicolour - Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat and other colour-themed songs.
2017 Groby Sings Rock and Royal – songs from The King and I, Elvis, and Queen
& Groby Sings Hits the Heights revisited some of our hits from previous seasons as well as songs from The Sound of Music.
2018 Groby Sings Steps Through Time was a break from the normal format with no featured show or composers. The songs ranged through styles and genres from a 12th century madrigal to the chart toppers of recent times.
& Groby Sings From the Rooftops – songs from Fiddler on the Roof and other rooftop favourites.
2019 Groby Sings On the Beach - songs from South Pacific, The Beach Boys and other seaside hits.
& Groby Sings Under the Stars – songs from The Greatest Showman and a wide variety of stellar hits.
Groby Sings became a registered charity in November 2018. Registered Charity number 1180490. More details can be found on the Charity Commission website.