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.