Latest News


  • Horizon is back in action...again! (Hallmark of Harmony, Horizon 2020)
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  •   Date Posted: Sun, 16 Jan 2022
    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.






     
  • Welcome to Horizon in 2022 (Hallmark of Harmony, Horizon 2020)
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  •   Date Posted: Wed, 12 Jan 2022
    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 . 

    Thank you!  

     
  • COVID TESTS – FURTHER GUIDANCE (Hallmark of Harmony, Horizon 2020)
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  •   Date Posted: Sun, 9 Jan 2022
    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:- 
    1. The NHS App/Website is a great way to record your test result, as it returns a notification to your phone that can be shown/shared (https://www.gov.uk/report-covid19-result)

    2. Alternatively, you can take and show a dated photo of your test strip.  Please ensure that the QR code and result are clearly visible.  You can either use a date-stamp function if your camera/phone has one, or else write the date of the test on the strip

    3. To save time at the door, you can optionally ‘check in on-line’ by sending your NHS test result confirmation or test strip photo to Phil Gill via WhatsApp or email before arriving at the venue.   

    4. If you are able to, please bring a spare Lateral Flow Test with you to the rehearsal, in case any other members have been unable to obtain one.
    Thank you. 


     
  • HALLMARK OF HARMONY REHEARSALS AND OMICRON – WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW (Hallmark of Harmony, Horizon 2020)
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  •   Date Posted: Wed, 5 Jan 2022
    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:-
    1. It is much more transmissible than previous variants. The requirements for self-isolation are causing labour shortages in key sectors.
    2. Disease caused by Omicron is generally less severe than other Covid variants.
    Exec has agreed a modified package of measures (see below) to allow rehearsals to resume whilst providing a degree of assurance that risk of infection has been reduced as much as practicable.  Of course, even with these measures in place, it is impossible to remove risk entirely. It is therefore a personal choice for members whether to attend rehearsals in person. 

    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

    We will:
    1. require all members to be double vaccinated and to have had a booster to attend chorus, unless they are not yet eligible to receive one (e.g. if they have recently recovered from Covid)
    2. continue to monitor CO2 levels at rehearsal venues, and take action if there is evidence that poor ventilation is increasing risk
    3. suspend use of risers to allow singers to stand at minimum 2 metre spacings
    4. require all members to complete a lateral flow test in the 12 hours before each rehearsal, and not attend if it is positive; we also advise/request members to take at least one other lateral flow test per week.
    5. provide a short demo by a medical practitioner on correct method for performing a lateral flow test. The aim is to help improve the reliability of the tests.
    6. require members to wear a suitable face covering (e.g. singer’s mask) at rehearsals, with the exception of the MD, and provide such masks on request to anyone who has not yet received one
    7. require members not to attend rehearsals if they have any cold- or flu-like symptoms
    We will also continue to provide Zoom coverage of rehearsals to help anyone unable to attend (e.g. if they are self-isolating) to keep on track.  Exec will monitor information about Covid and the effectiveness of safety measures, and will change our approach as and when needed. 

    Your Pre-Rehearsal Check List
    1. Ensure you get a third (booster) Covid jab as soon as it is offered to you
    2. send evidence of your vaccination status to Shirley Course.  You should do this by downloading and sending a pdf copy of your Covid Pass for travel (unlike the domestic pass, this includes details of your individual vaccinations) either from the NHS App or NHS website (https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/get-digital-covid-pass/)
    3. Take a lateral flow test in the 12 hours before each rehearsal, and register the result via   https://www.gov.uk/report-covid19-result. This will generate a text and/or email which you will need to show on arrival at the rehearsal venue.  Lateral flow tests may be ordered on-line (https://www.gov.uk/order-coronavirus-rapid-lateral-flow-tests) or obtained from chemist shops (subject to availability).
    4. Bring and wear a suitable face covering at rehearsals.  A singer’s mask is preferable as it allows better vocal production than other masks.  In any case, masks should fit well, be looped over the ears, and made of multiple layers of filtering material. 
    5. If you have not yet received a singer’s mask from the club but would like one, please message Phil Gill.  There are a few spare masks available, and more are on order. 
    6. Stay away from rehearsals and performances if you have any of the following common symptoms of Covid:- 
      • Runny nose
      • Headache
      • Fatigue
      • Sneezing
      • Sore throat
      • Persistent cough
      • Fever
      • Loss of taste and/or smell
    Please help us to keep moving forward by following the above steps so we can deliver rehearsals over coming weeks as safely as possible.
     
  • Risers are in their new home (Hallmark of Harmony, Horizon 2020)
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  •   Date Posted: Tue, 21 Dec 2021
  • Thank you Jonathan Beard!
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  •   Date Posted: Sun, 28 Nov 2021
  • 2021 Unsung Hero Awards
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  •   Date Posted: Wed, 10 Nov 2021
    2021 Unsung Hero Awards
    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!  

    WINNERS

    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.
  • Barbershopper of the Year 2021
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  •   Date Posted: Wed, 10 Nov 2021
    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 in action! (Hallmark of Harmony, Horizon 2020)
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  •   Date Posted: Sun, 19 Sep 2021

    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!
  • Magic Moments
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  •   Date Posted: Wed, 18 Aug 2021
    Magic Moments
    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....

     
  • Another step forward
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  •   Date Posted: Wed, 4 Aug 2021


    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.
  • We're back!
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  •   Date Posted: Wed, 21 Jul 2021


    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.  
  • Another successful SGS session (Hallmark of Harmony, Horizon 2020)
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  •   Date Posted: Thu, 8 Jul 2021




    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:
    • You are so beautiful: Focus on timing and getting the breath points right. Seb was also keen to get the early chords as beautiful as possible.
    • My Girl: Again timing was a focus here 
    • Call Me: More focus on timing here making sure that the notes in the tag are given the right length so that there is no leakage into the breaks that Sam has put into the arrangement. 

    Great session thank you Seb!
  • Small Group Singing at SHU
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  •   Date Posted: Sat, 26 Jun 2021
    Small Group Singing at SHU
    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!
  • Pride Month 2021
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  •   Date Posted: Tue, 8 Jun 2021
    Pride Month 2021
    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.

     
  • Bridge Over Troubled Water...Launched (Hallmark of Harmony, Horizon 2020)
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  •   Date Posted: Mon, 31 May 2021
    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:
  • First Tuesday night live singing rehearsal! (Hallmark of Harmony, Horizon 2020)
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  •   Date Posted: Wed, 12 May 2021


    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 (Hallmark of Harmony, Horizon 2020)
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  •   Date Posted: Fri, 2 Apr 2021
    Jordan Travis Coaching Night

    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:
    • Alignment
    • Breathing
    • Phonation

     
  • Tim becomes a "Legend of Hallmark" (Hallmark of Harmony, Horizon 2020)
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  •   Date Posted: Fri, 2 Apr 2021
    Tim becomes a "Legend of Hallmark"

    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:
    1. Member most likely to have had dark hair when he started barbershop singing.: Colin Maskrey
    2. The member with the most hair growth on his head over lockdown.: John Faben
    3. The member with the most facial hair grown over lockdown.: Jules Roberts
    4. SPARK awards: The presenter with the most unexpected session. : Glenn Goodman
    5. Section awards: Tenor most likely to be asked for help in a musical emergency.: Sam Hubbard
    6. Section awards: Baritone most likely to spot mistakes in sheet music.: Colin Maskrey
    7. Section awards: Lead most likely to aspire to be a front row prima donna.: Chris Bromley
    8. Section awards: Bass most likely to count "do-doos" on his fingers.: John Faben
    9. Member making best use of kitchen facilities during rehearsals.: Paul Mason
    10. Music Team: member making best use of metaphors when coaching.: Andy Allen
  • Grand Central Chorus (Hallmark of Harmony, Horizon 2020)
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  •   Date Posted: Thu, 4 Mar 2021
    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.   
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