PoN at the Choir Convention – and Summer Term news

Following a Spring term and joyful performance at the South West Community Choir Convention on 3rd April 2022, Rosie will be running a shorter 7 week Summer term (10th May-28th June, with half term w/c 31st May). Check our Sing With Us page for updates on when you can book for the Summer term (this will be possible later in April).

Rosie will begin running the choir properly in September 2022, largely running with the school terms and being based at St Paul’s Church in Southville.

We’ve uploaded a video of us singing at the 2022 South West Choir Convention. This is the Georgian song ‘Elesa’ which we’ve uploaded to our YouTube channel.

People of Note performing Georgian song ‘Elesa’ with Rosie Sleightholme in St Georges, Bristol, April 2022

We also sang We Shall Be Known by Ma Muse which will be added to the YouTube channel in due course. Why not subscribe?

What happened at our Gathering and AGM on 19th Feb 2022

We had a very successful and happy AGM last month. There was lots to celebrate, most importantly the ratification of Rosie Sleightholme as the new leader of People of Note. See below for links to the Chair and Treasurer reports and other papers. Here are the draft minutes in full.

The highlight was a chance to hear from Rosie about her story and thoughts for the future of Poople of Note.  Here are the notes we made:

Presentation by Rosie Sleightholme, leader of People of Note

Rosie started with a delightful song, her song “Spring Interlude”, thanked everyone and declared that she felt very emotional and honoured to be our new leader. Rosie was very grateful to Nigel and Christine for working together with her and having several meetings at Windmill City Farm.

Background – Rosie runs two daytime choirs in South Bristol. She comes from a musical background and had a classical foundation, playing the cello and piano from when she was young. She studied Archaeology & Anthropology at Oxford University, and while there she began writing and performing her own songs. She also enjoyed playing and singing different kinds of music, including jazz, folk and improvisation.

After university, she did lots of gigging as a solo artist in London and then travelled round the world, playing music and busking in different countries. After this she continued gigging in London before moving to mid Wales where she discovered a love for community singing, especially in the local folk session scene. She joined her friend’s Natural Voice choir and was inspired that she would like to lead her own choir one day.

After Wales, Rosie moved to Bristol. When she was pregnant, she did a choir leadership course with Susie Ro Prater, which gave her the confidence to begin work as a choir leader. She started a choir for pregnant women and then, when her baby was nearly a year old, a parent and baby choir. She then set up a regular daytime community choir, all in South Bristol.

Then covid hit and Rosie kept people singing through meeting outdoors in Victoria Park in the woods. Some PON members trickled in, namely John and Jennifer Smith and Rina Vergano. Jennifer asked Rosie if she would like to be put forward as our leader and she said yes, she would.

Christine and Rhiannon met her in the woods to sing, and here we are…

Rosie is part of the Natural Voice Network, just like Nickomo. She feels that having no barriers to singing is important and to be joyful singing in harmony together. Her first session with us in the autumn last year gave her goose bumps and it was clear to her how what we have is so special, and how welcoming we are to new people.

Rosie spoke of her vision for the future and said that she will have the same approach as Nickomo, in terms of running things herself, as she already does with her existing choirs.

Repertoire – Rosie wants to always teach a variety of songs, including intro songs, chanting songs, easily satisfying songs and longer, more challenging ones. This includes songs from all over the world, in different languages. She feels it is important to give a broad range with variety, and we have inspired her to write her own songs now, and she has several new songs coming on at the moment. Nickomo gave her a list of songs he had taught us over the years. Bob Endsor had asked if we could revisit some of Nickomo’s arrangements which are ‘old favourites’ of the choir. Rosie is quite open to that. She is aware that we have been running a long time, however she invited us to email her some of our favourites, including classical or pop songs.

Finances – Rosie discussed payments and recognised that the Jon Conway Events site is very useful for now, however eventually she would like all payments to go to her business account directly. She feels we should keep it as it is for now, and then payments to start going straight to Rosie from the summer or September 2022.

She will offer free taster sessions. She would like to operate largely to school terms, either ten or twelve week terms.

Community – Rosie is up for community gigs with us and/or with other choirs and would like to aim for a concert at least once a year, ticketed, either summer or Christmas, maybe see what works. It is good to aim towards a performance outside rehearsals.

She is enthusiastic about trips too, however not quite yet as they are a lot of work. Perhaps the UK first then maybe twin with other countries.

Venues – Rosie discussed venues and she is very aware that there are many needs and opinions about them. When she starts full time leadership in September, she feels she cannot manage any more than once a week and so it will be Southville based. She is not totally wedded to St Paul’s as it is cold, parking is difficult, but it is great for size and acoustics. She is currently contacting other venues.

She is not saying she cannot ever commit to another venue in north Bristol, just not right now. For now, she wants to focus on one place and get new people into the choir. A survey could be possible so that if numbers allow, she could commit to another venue at some point in the future.

People of Note (Ponita) Gathering and AGM, 19th Feb 2022

It’s been quite a year since we last gathered on Zoom on 27th Feb 2021. It’s now time to reflect and celebrate what’s been achieved in the past year, and to look forward to a new era for People of Note.

We’ll be doing this face to face, and with lots of cake, as we used to in the old days.

You can just turn up to St Paul’s Southville at 2pm on Sat 19th Feb, but it would be helpful if you can book ahead (free), so we know who’s coming.

Before that gathering last February, it had already been a year since we had last sang together, in Feb 2020. We were considering what the future for People of Note choir might be after the twin traumas of losing Nickomo and Rasullah, and the pandemic. Indeed, we were thinking about whether there was any future at all.

At that meeting a working group was set up, with the result that a full programme of workshops and events were organised for the autumn, starting with the Joyous celebration with Nickomo.  We also started the search for a new leader.  The Gathering marks the conclusion of the efforts of the Working Group, and the start of a new stage.

Singing is what People of Note is all about, of course. But this is a time for all those who care about PON/Ponita to mark and give thanks for what’s been achieved. This will also be a chance to hear from our Leader Designate, Rosie Sleightholme about her ideas and plans, and to let her know our feelings and views.

See you there!


Here are the papers for the AGM

Our first term with Rosie Sleightholme, and PON Gathering/AGM

We’ve now had two full choir sessions with the wonderful Rosie Sleightholme. At the People of Note (Ponita) gathering/AGM on 19th Feb we will be confirming her as our new leader and she will be setting out her ideas for taking on People of Note.

We have already learned the classic Tebye Poyem and Helen Yeoman’s Weave a prayer, as well as the rousing warmup Siyahamba. All the part recordings for songs this term are on a Soundcloud link which will be sent to anyone needing to refresh or catch up. The next three sessions can now be booked individually and will be in Tyndale Baptist Church on Whiteladies Road, Redland.

The Late Spring half term of five sessions starts on 8th March and can be booked at an ‘early bird’ rate until 2 weeks before.

Rosie will be leading us for two songs at the 2022 South West Community Choir Convention at St George’s Bristol on Sunday 3rd April.

As usual, all sessions and workshops can be booked through the Events page.

Are carols best sung in a church, or a pub?

That was the question on our minds during the first of Chris Samuels’ “Weird and Wonderful Carols” workshops on Thurs 25th Nov.

Yes, we were in a church (the lovely acoustics of St Paul’s, Southville), but we learned two carols from the old tradition of Christmas singing in pubs, still well established in Yorkshire (folk singer Kate Rusby tells Songs of Praise about it here) .

Chris has been seeking out tunes from Somerset, Wiltshire and Gloucestershire and bringing them to a wider audience.

We learned Hark The Herald Angels to a tune called Carlingcott, named after the the Somerset village where it is sung. There’s a clip of it being sung in the pub at Bradford on Avon here.

We also sang The Dunster Carol – I hear along our street. This has words from Henry Wadsworth Longfellow set to an old French tune. It was adopted after the First World War by the village of Dunster on the edge of Exmoor in West Somerset, where it is still sung boldly and with good courage!

Here’s a clip of us when we’d just about got the hang of it:

For his next Xmas workshop on Thurs 2nd December (book your place here!) Chris has promised us one of the 400 known tunes for While Shepherds Watched. This one is also known as Sweet Bells as made popular by Kate Rusby https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mWz2X_h72nU