Choral tribute to good mental health

WOKING-based Mosaic Chamber Choir has marked Mental Health Awareness Week with a new virtual choir arrangement of Don McLean’s Vincent.

In the song, often referred to as “Starry, Starry Night” because of its familiar lyrics, McLean pays tribute to the artist Vincent van Gogh, who struggled with his mental health.

POWER OF MUSIC – Mosaic Chamber Choir gives a virtual performance of Vincent against a backdrop of Van Gogh’s painting The Starry Night

“Many of us have faced mental health challenges as a result of the pandemic and lockdown,” said Sarah Kerr, Mosaic’s assistant music director.

“We know how much music, and singing in particular, can have a positive impact on wellbeing. We wanted to make this recording as a reminder of the challenges we continue to face and to highlight the importance of looking after each other during this time.”

The choir met Roger Emerson, a widely known arranger of choral music, over Zoom as part of a series of virtual sessions they held with composers and choral experts during lockdown.

 “It was an absolute thrill to meet him and to hear more about the background to this arrangement,” said Barbara Cobham, Mosaic alto. “It has definitely added an extra layer to our performance.”

Although Mosaic have not been able to rehearse together since March last year, virtual recordings have helped them to stay connected as a choir.

“Music is such a powerful tool,” said Marion Barton, Mosaic soprano and music therapist. “More and more during this pandemic we have connected through music.

“Singers throughout the world have come together online to share expressions of hope, resilience and a sense of belonging.”

However, as lockdown measures begin to ease, Mosaic are looking forward to their first in-person rehearsal in over a year.

“Singing together virtually has been great, though it’s never quite the same,” said Tom Griffiths, Mosaic, bass and choir chairman.

“Nothing beats singing together in person, that sense of community and being part of a bigger sound. That’s where the magic happens.”

Victoria Henshall has been appointed the choir’s new musical director.

She said: “I’m really excited to begin working with this dynamic and vibrant chamber choir. I think exciting times are ahead for Mosaic.”

Mosaic’s virtual recording of Vincent is on www.facebook.com/mosaicchamberchoir and on YouTube, search for Mosaic Chamber Choir.

Mosaic has some vacancies, particularly for sopranos and tenors. For more information, visit: mosaicchamberchoir.org.uk. For information and support on mental health issues, visit www.mind.org.uk.

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