The explosive energy and inspiring performances of Birmingham Community Gospel Choir are known to people across the UK – not least since they won the BBC’s Gospel Choir of the Year title in 2015. Now seven top members of the choir are coming to Sibiu International Theatre Festival to perform ‘Gospel in Praise and Worship’.
Choir founder and director Maxine Brooks will be with them. She tells us why Romania is so important for the choir – and why you might want to see and hear the choir at Sibiu.
We feel as if we’re going to our family in Romania
There is a large Romanian Christian community in Birmingham. We have had several singers in the choir over the years from Romania and we’ve heard that there’s a big gospel presence in Romania too. This is why we’re particularly inspired to be coming here.
This will only be our second trip overseas and we are so looking forward to sharing our music and our experience with people who we feel are like ‘family’. We feel sure people will connect with what we are doing – this is our experience with the Romanian Christians who we know from home.
There’s a reason we were named ‘Gospel Choir of the Year’
Some audience members at our concerts weep because they are so moved by the music and the message we communicate. For others, they’re laughing and dancing and joining in.
It’s my belief that anyone can sing and praise God – it doesn’t matter whether their voices are beautiful or not, or whether they are in tune if they are making a joyful noise.
But we are a bit more than that. We are really talented. We have excellent voices. We rehearse, we get our harmonies together, and I make the choir work really, really hard.
When you have a group of people singing together who have such a connection to the meaning of what they are singing, then this gives them a connection to each other and to their audience. And when they are really good singers too – that is what makes a difference.
We want the audience to feel part of the choir
As choir master, I’m not straight laced at all. I actually talk to the choir during the performance – I say things like, ‘Stand up straight!’ and ‘Keep your head up!’ and ‘You’re not in line there!’ Audiences find it funny because it’s sincere.
We don’t want to build up a wall where we just deliver some polished, cold performance. We invite the audience into our choir. We want them to feel a sense of connection and belonging. We want to join with you, and for you to join in with us, to praise – and to have a good time.