The Barberettes – Divas at heart!
By Francis Hammerton, Lead
I joined the Barberettes in June last 2017, and time has flown since then, so I’m not the newest member any more! I attended an open evening at the invitation of an existing member, who is also a friend. I loved the singing but what made it for me was the buzz and the fun but focused atmosphere. There was lots of banter to keep the tone light, but I could tell these ladies took their singing and performance seriously!
An observer for that first week, I came back the following week and was soon up on the risers with the other ladies, joining in where I could. I think everyone in the Barberettes is a bit of a diva at heart, and I am no exception! I was given sheet music to practice, but most of the learning is done by ear using teach tracks at home, or with the chorus in rehearsals. Most members don’t read music, and sometimes we purposely deviate from what is written anyway to make it sound better and keep it interesting. Singing without holding music in front of us brings our focus to the sound and the performance of the song. We love to engage with our audience and use costumes and moves to express the feeling of the song, either choreographed or freestyle. One of my current favourites is We Go Together from Grease – it’s such a fun song to sing because the moves really tell the story.
My first few months with the Barberettes has been great fun. I’ve really challenged myself to show my inner diva and tune into the chorus so that together we can sound our best. Arriving at rehearsal mid-week evening I often feel tired and fed up, but within twenty minutes all my worries are forgotten and I leave each rehearsal feeling uplifted and energised. Our musical director, Emma, uses a brilliant mixture of encouragement, silliness and sarcasm to get us to give our best, and sometimes we even achieve it!
I’ve also taken part in several performances, one of which was the re-affirmation ceremony of Reading’s twin-town status with Dusseldorf, Germany, which took place in the beautiful Reading Town Hall. Performing with a choir like the Barberettes is a fantastic experience, because we are all so proud and happy to showcase all our hard work and put everything into our performances. We recently took part in the annual Let’s Sing competition, hosted by the Hexagon in Reading, which was very exciting.
I recently became a committee member and took on the role of Secretary, which is not something I’ve done before so I’m learning some new skills and how much it takes to run a choir such as this one. I hope my membership with the Barberettes lasts well into the future, as apart from the music, every single one of the ladies in the Barberettes is someone I’m proud to say I know.