You can still enjoy singing in a choir with others even if you are keeping your social distance. An on-line choir is still communal and uplifting and is something that I enjoy doing.
Felicity Maries and John Taylor lead the choir which takes its name from the Oasis Academy School on Kennington Road.
The Oasis choir – ironically water in a desert – gives voice to the human need to come together. Singing is a great therapy and choral is even better because it joins people with others.
It is now something that can still be done virtually through the Oasis Choir on Zoom.
Felicity Maries (right) chief choral tutor and John Taylor ran the choir every Tuesday evening at the school and now run it online.
The Oasis Waterloo Community Choir is a diverse group of people, who sing everything from classical, gospel and rock to pop and folk. Over the past couple of years, the choir has performed at the Royal Festival Hall, Waterloo Station, the Young Vic Theatre, local community choir concerts, weddings and more!
The great news is the Oasis Choir is in the same time slot but online every Tuesday on Zoom at 7.30pm every Tuesday with the rest of the choir crew.
Felicity says: “I realised that my real passion in music was the connection it draws between people – composer and audience, performer and listener, musician to musician – and how it is accessible for everyone. No one is excluded. It’s as if there is a language that we can all speak and communicate within – so it helps me express my love and joy at being with others and facilitating connection.”
John Taylor (below), born in Fife, Scotland says he loved singing from an early age and was in the National Youth Choir of Scotland.
“At school I had a fabulous, quirky teacher called Mrs Wedderburn. I wasn’t always well at school as I have a blood condition and she used to let me use the music room when everyone else was doing PE. She had about 10 pairs of glasses, which she could hardly ever find, because they were all on her head! I’ll never forget her voice shrieking ‘Boys!’ when we were misbehaving in choir.”
Felicity, born in York, moved to Devon with her Mum and Dad before arriving in South London. Music she says “was definitely in the blood. I got up to all sorts as a child – from musical theatre to playing concertos with orchestras, youth orchestras, choirs, church and religious settings, and generally any form of music making, big or small. I ended up studying Music at Kings College, London which drew me to London Oasis and then starting this choir!”
Felcity and John have added the piano to their musical repertoire,
Felicity says: “My first instrument was the cello, which I’ve been playing since I was eight.
“One highlight of performing was playing an original composition of a Concerto for Three Cellos in the Royal Festival Hall as part of a school’s festival when I was 15.”
John adds: “I dabble in the accordion, which I taught myself (as with the piano) through YouTube! I’m by no means an expert!”
Although John taught himself the piano he says: “From the age of 8 my grandad bought me a keyboard. I had an elderly next door neighbour who was a retired primary school teacher and she taught me my basic chords. However I didn’t have formal piano lessons, so now I can mostly play by ear with chords. I still find sight reading music a challenge.”
Singing together is still possible thanks to on line technology says Felicity: “Zoom is the go-go platform at the moment – for all things interactive when it’s a bigger group of people. It was beautiful chaos the first time we tried – lots to learnt, lots to enjoy – but having a method for virtual connection and seeing one another’s faces is the primary thing at the moment.
“Hopefully the technology won’t exclude people from joining. Our next task is to go the extra mile to figure out how we can get those online who don’t currently have the ability to join in.”
John adds: “Last week was our first attempt which to be honest wasn’t musically a great success due to the lag of connections. That said, it is all about community and connection with others and from that perspective it was a roaring success!
“Using Zoom we are muting mics, so we can teach parts to different groups and letting people sing along, but the combination of hearing everyone anyway regardless of the technical issues is all important, It’s important at this difficult time to find a way to have a laugh.”
Check out Oasis Community Choir once a week every Tuesday at 7.30 on Zoom.