|There has been a fantastic response to Hallmark's fundraising for the Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC) Ukraine Humanitarian Appeal. A total of £1,211 has been raised, roughly half of which was generated by the Hallmark and Friends show in March, and the remainder coming from the Just Giving on-line campaign. Thank you to everyone who has donated so generously to this most worthwhile cause. This money has gone straight to DEC who are distributing funds to charities working in Ukraine and neighbouting countries to meet the needs of people affected by the conflict.
A special thank you is reserved for Jonathan Beard, not only for promoting the Ukraine appeal so passionately, but also for contributing the amazing sum of £602 to cover Hallmark's costs in staging the fundraising show!
Sadly, the situation for people living in the region remains extremely difficult and dangerous, and DEC are continuing their humanitarian appeal. For that reason, we are leaving our Just Giving page active for now, so please do tell others about it so we can continue to raise funds to help DEC charities continue their vital work.
Over the last year, we’ve welcomed new and returning members, sung in two shows in our home city, come away from BABS Convention with silver medals, and enjoyed Forge Part Harmony; Hallmark is back in business!
But what next for our chorus?
Members of Exec and Music Team have taken time out to reflect on the past year and to look forward; are we delivering our vision “to be the biggest and best a cappella chorus we can be, bringing life-changing experiences through music to everyone who crosses our path”? The description of what Hallmark will be like has been updated:-
In planning for the future, it’s important that members’ views are understood so we are launching a twice yearly ‘Member Pulse Survey’. Please take a few minutes to complete the survey, which can be found here, before the end of July. The information you supply will help us to finalise the two-year plan. We look forward to sharing the plan when it is ready.
Thanks everyone for observing our Covid safety measures in the run-up to Convention. We are now adjusting these so that you will no longer be required to show a negative Lateral Flow Test before attending rehearsals. Other measures will remain in place:-
|COVID MANAGEMENT AT RETREAT
Retreat will be your last chance to collect and buy sing-out gear before convention. Please see Jonathan Beard. Cash payment preferred.
|To minimise the risk of illness impacting on members’ ability to prepare for and take part in Convention, we are continuing with current Covid measures for the next few weeks.
|We are proud to launch our online fund-raising in support of Disaster Emergency Committee Ukraine Humanitarian Appeal. This follows the recent 'Hallmark and Friends' show, which has already raised several; hundred poinds for this urgent appeal. |
Please help us to help Disaster Emergency Committee by sharing our fund-raising page with family and friends, or by making a donation yourself.
|For more information, see:||www.justgiving.com/fundraising/hallmark-of-harmony1|
|BABS are holding their AGM on Sunday 20th May. The meeting agenda is attached for information. |
Agenda items 8 and 9, which are motions submitted by East Midlands BHC, might be of particular interest. They concern recent changes to contest rules that have seen the introduction of Youth and Senior Quartet Contests open to male, female and mixed quartets, rather than male-only contests. The issues EMBHC have with this are set out clearly in Appendix 2 to the agenda.
Exec would be interested to hear from any Hallmark members who have particular views about future eligibility criteria for Barbershop contests organised by BABS, or any of the related matters raised by EMBHC. Please bear in mind that BABS intend to provide further explanation of the rationale for the change, and some points of clarification, at the AGM itself.
|Back in December, when the arrival of the Omicron variant threw all our fund-raising plans for St Luke's into disarray at the last moment, it seemed that our annual appeal might fall flat. However, we quickly switched from singing in the streets of Sheffield to an on-line campaign featuring our virtual performance of 'Bridge over Troubled Water'. Thanks to the amazing generosity of donors, we have managed to exceed our appeal target by nearly 50%, raising a total of £739! |
Hallmark of Harmony is proud to have been a friend and supporter of St Luke's - Sheffield's Hospice - for more than forty years. We are delighted that, once again, our appeal has generated essential funds for St Luke's. Without such funding they would not be able to continue to provide valuable care and help to patients and their families at times of greatest need.
Thank you to everyone who supported our appeal so generously.
|Getting ready for performance|
Our chorus is now entering the latter stages of preparation for the show on 19th March. We will be standing on risers as happened at the QuartetCon show last November. Consequently, we will need to be able to stand closer together at rehearsals to better reflect the experience of singing on stage.
At the time of writing, numbers of people nationally with Covid continues on a downward trend, and the government has confirmed its intention to relax Covid legislation. Whilst this is encouraging, the risk of a Covid outbreak amongst chorus members has not disappeared. If this were to happen, then it could seriously disrupt our preparations for the show and, at worst, force the chorus to withdraw from it. To mitigate this risk whilst still allowing singers to stand closer together at rehearsals, Exec has decided to keep all other safeguards in place for the time-being. It will continue to monitor the situation and will announce further changes when it is considered safe to do so.
What is changing from 1st March?
The minimum distance between singers at rehearsals will be reduced from 2 metres to 1 metre. If anyone wishes to maintain a greater distance from other singers, they may do so. We will still be standing on the floor, rather than risers, at rehearsals for the time being.
All other existing safety measures will remain in place. Members may continue to wear a singer’s mask at rehearsals if they wish to.
Your pre-rehearsal checklist
Comments or questions?
If you have any questions or comments about this change, please send to Phil Gill.
|The British Association of Barbershop Singers’ (BABS) convention is always a special occasion, but never more so than in 2022 when the event returns after an unprecedented gap of 3 years. Sing2022 promises to be an especially joyous and memorable celebration of what we do, and of the friendships that bind the Barbershop community together. We do hope you will be there as part of Hallmark of Harmony, who will be returning as champions of the most recent Male Chorus Contest in 2019. |
Below are a few key facts to help you plan your convention.
Where and when is it?
This year’s event is being held at Harrogate International Convention Centre HG1 5LA, which is 58 miles from Sheffield (via the M1 and A1M), or around 2 hours by train.
The full convention programme runs from the evening of Friday 29 April to the afternoon of Sunday 1 May. The main event for Hallmark of Harmony is the Male Chorus Contest which runs throughout Saturday, with results being announced late afternoon/early evening. However, there is so much to do and see over the entire weekend, including Quartet Semi-Finals and Finals on Friday evening and Sunday afternoon respectively, Saturday evening show, the Mixed Chorus Contest on Sunday morning, and a Closing Ceremony late Sunday afternoon. Note that the newly crowned chorus and quartet champions will be invited to perform at the ceremony.
Plus, there are plenty of fringe and informal events, including opportunities to chat, drink and sing with hundreds of other participants, including some of the finest Barbershoppers you could hope to meet.
What about Covid?
BABS are treating provision of safety measures with utmost importance, and are are working in partnership with Harrogate International Centre to manage the event as safely as possible. Further details will be published by BABS nearer the time, but they point to their successful QuartetCon held in November 2021 as an illustration of the measures that might be used.
What does it cost?
Prices depend on your age and how much of the weekend you want to attend, as follows:-
If you want to immerse yourself in Barbershop, and also leave open the possibility of taking the stage again at the closing ceremony on Sunday (if Hallmark is lucky enough to win the chorus contest), then the full weekend pass is the best value option. Note that if you want to go to the Saturday evening show, then tickets for it must be bought separately (cost £20/£12/£8 for Adult/Youth/Junior).
Any member who feels unable to attend because of personal financial hardship may apply to Hallmark’s benevolent fund for a grant or a loan. Please contact Frank Grasso (email@example.com) for further details.
Staying in Harrogate
To get the most out of the event you will probably want to stay overnight in Harrogate. Please note that you will need to make your own arrangements for this. If you haven’t booked anywhere yet, then please don’t leave it too late as choice can become limited as the date of convention approaches. You might want to team up with Hallmark colleagues to find shared accommodation as this can help to save money, as well as being a lot of fun. If this is of interest to you, then Hallmark Chatz WhatsApp group can be a great place to start asking around.
BABS are supplying lots more information about Sing2022 via their website, with updates being published there between now and the start of Convention. Visit https://www.singbarbershop.com/sing2022-generalinformation to find out more.
Looking forward to being with you in Harrogate!
|COVID MANAGEMENT – NEXT STEPS |
Why are we reviewing our safety measures?
Exec is responding to:-
What is changing from 1st February?
Members will no longer have to wear a mask while singing, but may choose to do so. We believe that relaxing this rule will improve coaching at rehearsals, as directors will be able to hear and see chorus members more clearly. We also believe that by keeping all other safety measures in place for the time being, we will be able to manage risk to an acceptable level. This change applies to both Tuesday and Horizon rehearsals. Note, however, that Wesley Hall still requires people to wear face masks when moving about the building.
Your revised pre-rehearsal checklist
Comments or questions?
If you have any questions or comments about this change, please send to Phil Gill. Thank you.
A lot of effort is put into getting these rehearsals under way including: designing the rehearsal, venue selection, COVID preparations, technical set up and more.
Most of all there is the commitment from every member of Horizon to the individual preparation required to make sure we get the maximum out of the day.
Natually we miss the refreshments team, aka the tea ladies, hopefully they will be back soon!
No matter how you contribute, thank you for making today so enjoyable.
Gentlemen of Horizon – Welcome to 2022. And what a year it promises to be!
Our performance at QuartetCon in November 2021 showed what great shape we’re in, despite our enforced hibernation since early 2020. That was just the beginning, as we now start getting ready for the first BABS Convention in three years in April. Oh, and there’s also a show on March 19th; so much to look forward to!
The action commences in earnest in just a few days, with our first Horizon rehearsal of 2022 on Sunday 16th January, at Springs Leisure Centre, East Bank Road, Sheffield, S2 2AL. As recently reported, we have safety measures in place to allow the rehearsal to go ahead, so I am really looking forward to welcoming you back to do some serious work on our convention songs. I hope you are all getting to grips with the words and notes from the teach tracks. We will be looking at the intro of Things are Looking Up (bars 1 to 10) and bars 9 to 34 of No Other Love. Please come as well-prepared as possible so we can make good progress on the day.
I know some of us find it a struggle to energise ourselves in the lee period after Christmas and New Year – all the more so this year after the unexpected hiatus and uncertainty caused by the arrival of Omicron. If this applies to you, then please do remember the joy and strength we all draw from being together and doing what we do so well. The quality of our chorus is down to every one of you – your ability and willingness to learn and improve, your engaging personalities and performances, your wonderful voices, and your passion and commitment to making music together. I hope every one of you will be with us throughout 2022 to use our gift of music to bring light into each other’s lives and to our audiences.
Exec, Music Team and Events Team are busy planning a programme of rehearsals that promise to be both rewarding and productive. Please help them to prepare by completing a short survey via this link: https://forms.office.com/Pages/ResponsePage.aspx?id=DQSIkWdsW0yxEjajBLZtrQAAAAAAAAAAAAMAAKkxhIRUQU05UEoyMTRXMlI3TExCSFFLR085MjFKTC4u .
|COVID TESTS – FURTHER GUIDANCE|
The advice below is designed to make the process for providing and checking Covid test results as quick, simple and effective as possible:-
|HALLMARK OF HARMONY|
REHEARSALS AND OMICRON – WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
Welcome back! I hope that you have all had a pleasant Christmas and a happy new year.
We are gearing up for our 2022 rehearsal programme starting on Tuesday 11th January, and Sunday 16th January for Horizon. Our aim is to give members as much opportunity as possible to prepare for exciting events including a show in March and Convention in April. This is only possible if we introduce a number of additional safety measures designed to address the new challenges presented by Omicron.
What are the risks?
The impacts of Covid have been widely reported over the past 2 years. Various safety measures have been employed by Hallmark to manage risks since we resumed singing together. Whilst it is good that there have been no Covid outbreaks linked to Hallmark rehearsals or shows to date, the continuing risk was brought into sharp focus in October 2021 when a member of Cowbridge Male Voice Choir in Wales died in a Covid outbreak after their 50th Anniversary Concert.
The arrival of the Omicron variant appears to have changed the situation in two main ways:-
Frank Grasso has prepared a very helpful risk management plan containing a review of relevant research into Covid and infection control measures which you can access here.
What the club is doing
Your Pre-Rehearsal Check List
|Hallmark of Harmony salutes members whose voluntary work makes a big difference to our club, but who have not previously received the recognition they deserve. We want to make this an annual fixture so other deserving members can receive the award in future years! |
Paul Kaiserman and Paul Searson (joint award), for working together to provide the technology needed for the best possible on-line rehearsals throughout 2021, including many hours sharing their expertise to support members setting up their computers for Jamulus and Jitsi.
Paul Dalpra, for his quiet, skilful and efficient work for Hallmark over very many years, for example looking after our aging risers to keep them in a usable state, arranging transport and setting up sound systems.
NOMINATIONS ALSO RECEIVED FOR...
Paul Mason for enthusiastic and reliable support over many years, including putting up risers, IT, being membership secretary, and helping the rest of us get our notes right!
Iwan Roberts for leading on riser logistics, including relocation from the Jesus Centre, putting in extra hours whenever needed.
Frank Grasso for all he does for the administration of the club, always with a happy and positive attitude and a realistic approach.
Shirley Course for being a long-standing loyal supporter of Hallmark, and now doing a stirling job as secretary (even when confined to her chair), always with a sunny and loveable personality.
Phil Gill for maintaining a steady hand and positive outlook at the helm during the past 20 months.
|Members voted Seb Marshall as Barbershopper of the Year at our AGM on 9th November 2021. Seb has done a remarkable job, stepping in to lead rehearsals with great energy and enthusiasm over recent months, and then directing the chorus in a memorable performance at BABS Quartetcon Saturday Evening Show. He also received a nomination for the 'Unsung Hero' award (apologies for omitting this from the last news item).|
Well done and thank you Seb!
Horizon is back!
Preparations are finally underway for Hallmark to be part of the BABS show in November that follows the Quartet prelims. It was fantastic to see old friends again in the flesh (as it were) and to make that unmistakeable Hallmark sound. As ever the music leadership did an outstanding job in leading the coaching and everyone is looking forward to the next horizon event in October where we will be graced by the presence of the one and only Mr Zac Boooooooole!
|More great singing and coaching at King Edward VII School and on Jamulus. Thanks to all the coaches for their brilliant leadership. The in-person rehearsal ended with a thrilling taste of things to come, with all four parts singing together in glorious harmony, To be continued next week....|
The process of building back to full chorus rehearsals continued this week with the first in-person duet sessions being held at King Edward VII Lower School, and a parallel Jamulus session being delivered to members who were not there in person. It was great to sing in harmony again, and thanks go to members of the Music Team for making this possible.
A special and much anticipated moment on a warm summer's evening as many chorus members rehearsed together in person for the first time in 16 months, while a Jamulus session was run for others who couldn't be there in person..
Thank you to our talented coaching team (Duncan Blackeby, Nick Bryant, Bob Devine, Seb Marshall and Colin Maskrey) for making it such an enjoyable and useful evening, and to members of the Small Group Development Stream who acted as stewards.
Nope this is not an audition for "Singing in the rain". The amazing Seb Marshall came all the way from Manchester to hold a SGS event and we made him smile as the chords rang out. Seb took us through:
Great session thank you Seb!
|Small Group Singing Event|
Many thanks to Jules Roberts for organising a Small Group SInging event up at Sheffield Hallam University (Collegiate Crescent). Singing together was a realy pleasure enhanced by the excellent coaching that Sam Hubbard gave us with "How can I keep from singing" and "You don't you won't".
Can't wait for all restrictions to be lifted!
|June is pride month, and that's a great opportunity to celebrate the contribution that LGBT+ people have made to our world of music. |
We recognise the discrimination experienced by LGBT+ people, and are proud to say that our chorus welcomes all singers regardless of sexual orientation.
|Premier of Hallmark's Tribute to Bridge Over Troubled Water|
Hallmark's tribute to the classic Simon and Garfunkel song "Bridge over troubled water" was the finale to a busy bank holiday weekend schedule of events for BABS Sing 2021.
Out thanks have to go to Hallmark Legend Tim Briggs for the lead vocals and to the wonderful BHS 2015 International Quartet Champions, Instant Classic, for collaborating with us.
|YouTube Video URL:|
Hallmark rehearses live for the first time in just over 12 months
This image captures Hallmark singing together but apart on a Tuesday night! Thanks and credit needs to go to Paul Kaiserman, Paul Searson and Duncan Blackeby for their patience and perseverance in making this happen. Not even the worst Thunderstorm to hit the East Midlands in a few years could stop this from happening. Before the event, after a year on Zoom, people's expectations were pretty low but the feedback has been overwhelming positive; it was great to hear those chords!
Hallmark is making use of some software called Jamulus. Jamulus requires a decent computer with a wired connection to the internet, a good quality microphone, some good quality headphones and a little bit of handholding for the technophobe. Some members of the chorus are not set up and so a way has been found to patch Jamulus into Zoom so that everyone in the club can benefit from a Jamulus rehearsal to a greater or lesser degree.
The overwhelming feedback has been positive, even from those that could attend via Zoom. Here are a few verbatims:
"That was fabulous..."
"That was really something..."
"Good session. Well worth the trouble..."
"I had almost forgotten how much I enjoyed singing in harmony..."
"...very enjoyable even though I was still on Zoom..."
"I was having a great time until my laptop crashed..."
Jordan Travis Coaching Night
Wonderful picture of Jodan getting a round of applause from the club after and engaging and informative session on improving singing technique. The key message is to just do a little each day (5-15 mins) to improve. From day to day there will be no noticable improvement BUT over the long term you will notice. No need to do anything complex, practice the basics:
Tim Briggs awarded "Legend of Hallmark" status
Tim's relationship with Hallmark changed this year and although Tim is already a legend in Hallmark, BABS, LABBS and just about anywhere he goes, we felt that it was time to recognise this with a formal(ish) presentation. Hallmark has been on memorable journey with Tim at the helm for the last 4 years and we are all incredibly grateful.
After the excellent coaching session from Jordan Travis, which TIm attended, an awards ceremony was planned. Little did Tim know that this was a cover for a COVID-19 safe delivery of the award, a bottle of bubbly and framed photo to honour Tim's newly found status as a "Legend of Hallmark", Thank you Tim.
To round off the night we did look at the awards, there are some up and coming legends:
|Of interest to many in Barbershop circles, and certainly to many Hallmark of Harmony members, current and past, 4th March, is the 30th Anniversary of Grand Central Chorus. It is yet another example of how dedication, with talented leadership and quality of membership that Grand Central have enjoyed since 1991, can combine the enjoyment of singing as a hobby, and the satiusfaction of success in the public eye. |
Hallmark of Harmony know only too well, having recently celebrated our own big Anniversary, just what it means to enjoy what we do, AND to receive plaudits and reward from our peers for doing just that. It is great to see that our close friends from Nottingham have shared in similar success.
A visit to their Twitter account @GrandCentralMen, will give you a brief history of their Chorus. There you will recognise names of sevearal Musical Directors with whom Hallmark of Harmony have been associated with, and honoured to have coordinated wth in coaching projects,with our own Musical Directors. A close relationship with benefits for both Chorus' .As you may well know, we are blessed that this close relationship between our Directors has enticed one such individual- Zac Boules, GCC Musical Director from 2011 to 2020, to share his wealth of experience and assist us in our 'plans out of lockdown'!
Ove r the years, individuals from both our Chorus' have for periods represented both Hallmark and Grand Central. It has been a pleasure to see several GCC members at our virtual Horizon rehearsals, and we look forward to meeting those same faces, in person, when current restrictions are lifted.
May this relationship between our two Chorus' continue, and the very best to Grand Central Chorus for their next 10 year journey.