Auditions, workshops and meet our new MD!


It’s a lovely thing, mulling over the year while full of turkey leftovers (seriously: that thing was cooked on the 25th, it should be finished by now or we’ll all die).

The blog has been quiet this term while we’ve got to the important matters of auditions, new workshops – and hiring a new MD.

And in great news, we’ve chosen one!

But first, workshops

"Can we keep him?" Charles MacDougall (centre) with a very happy group from The Pop-Up Choir
“Can we keep him?” Charles MacDougall (centre) with a very happy group from The Pop-Up Choir

In October we doubled up our first set of auditions with a workshop with Charles MacDougall, the tenor, animateur and founder member of the globe-conquering acapella vocal group, Voces8. I am entirely biased towards Charles’s fabulousness as he is a dear friend from university, but this was the first time I had seen him in work mode, other than while performing and it was a TREAT.

It was a hardcore, serious two hours punctuated with Charles’s wit, humour and a lot of exercises. We were pushed, pummeled and warmed-up as though we were going into battle, with the result that we were intensely surprised at what we were actually capable of. When 25 people turned, wild-eyed and went “Oh my God, can we keep him forever?” it was clear Charles’s expertise and charm had won everyone over. We look forward to welcoming Charles back for another workshop in 2015.

Auditions for new singers

Auditions for new sopranos and altos at our Brixton Base
Auditions for new sopranos and altos at our Brixton Base

With a number of Pop-Up babies, and our girls going travelling or moving abroad altogether, we needed to replenish our stock of singers, especially in the sops department. We had auditions in our Brixton Base workshop centre, and at the Dogstar in Brixton where we have split our rehearsal time for the last few terms. It was also a brilliant chance to finally meet some of the people on our waiting list, and we welcomed two groups of enthusiastic, great fun women to see what singing with Pop-Up is like. And then Dom made them all sing Somewhere Over The Rainbow solo. SORRY GUYS.

The result is that we have a coterie of new singers with angelic pipes, and the stones to cope with being told to sing Judy Garland at 10 seconds notice. One or two came along and decided it wasn’t for them, and fair enough: Pop-Up isn’t for everyone, but when you love it, you really do.


The Pop-Up Choir singing in the Southbank Centre shop for Mini Moderns's Remix!
Mini Moderns’s Remix!

We started as we meant to go on this term, with sets at the launch of Mini Modern’s takeover at the Southbank Centre shop. What a brilliant evening! Our mash-ups went perfectly with theirs.

Dom wields the Pop-Up flag at Brixton Night Market
Dom wields the Pop-Up flag at Brixton Night Market
A very soggy lot at the Nunhead Bite, but what a great gig
A very soggy lot at the Nunhead Bite, but what a great gig

We’ve mainly focused on auditions this term, and learning some new numbers – Dom’s new mash-up of Dollar, Money and No Diggity went down a STORM when we debuted it at Christmas – but we still had time to sing at a couple of events organised by the brilliant Pexmas crew: The Nunhead Bite, and the Pexmas Christmas fair, as well as the Brixton night market.

Pop-Up at the BBC!
Pop-Up at the BBC!

A group from Pop-Up went to a carol singing event organised by the BBC Singers and ended up singing on BBC Radio 3 which was rather a treat, but our biggest gig, quite literally, was singing at the top of the Shard in December, for a party by The Flicker Club, who were putting on Europe’s highest cinema with a screening of It’s A Wonderful Life.

Now that’s a gig to end 2014 on.

Au reservoir, Dom Stichbury

Dom's goodbye pictures (with the lyrics to his farewell song written around the side)
Dom’s goodbye pictures (with the lyrics to his farewell song written around the side)

Yes, after four wonderful years and some of the canniest arrangements known to acapella, Dom Stichbury moved on to pastures new.

It was a busy term for him as we had new arrangements to learn, not to mention new singers, and gigs, but it was all rounded off with a farewell knees-up in Kennington: our customary Christmas gig for our dear friend and patron Mark, landlord at The Black Prince, and then a sing-song for Dom who was presented with an engraved tuning fork, a collage, a customised version of Space Oddity written by Harry and performed by the choir, and our eternal love and thanks. And then some seriously aggressive Sing Star.

Dom has been a wonderful and inspiring MD and friend, and we can’t wait to see what he and Chaps Choir get up to next. Hopefully we’ll have them back to our next Masters of Pop gig in June.

Auditions for a new MD!

This is the big one, and we are indebted to Laura and Jordana for making this whole process so seamless. We invited five MDs to bring an arrangement to rehearsal and teach us, and we had five fantastic evenings. Thank you to everyone who applied, and to our five shortlisted candidates!

We are delighted to announced that Chris Bland will be our musical director. Fresh out of Oxford, Chris comes with a wealth of experience as musical director of the mixed voices acapella group Oxford Alternotives and singer in the all-male Out of The Blue who you might have seen doing a bang-up job of covering Our Blessed Lady Mariah Carey this winter.

We can’t wait to start working with Chris, and are delighted to get 2015 off to a great start. We’ll have our heads down for a term while the new singers get up to speed on our repertoire, and then it’s all go go go! We’ve got two Pop-Up weddings to sing at in the summer for starters.

So whether you’ve sung with us, booked us, seen us perform or just looked at us on YouTube, thank you. Have a fabulous New Year’s party, and may 2015 bring you great happiness and joy.

Published by Kat


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