Open Arts Inclusive Choir
By Susan Bennett
As I picked at my sandwiches in the Hub at the Bluecoat the other day, hemmed in by parties, children and fussing adults all doing the same, I became aware that more than one of the crowd were wearing purple fleeces. When one turned I caught sight of the OACC logo on their back and wondered what it was.
As I squeezed further and further into my seat and made way for others to perch beside me, the area filled with around 25 people all purple clad and busy with chairs, bongo drums and display stands. This was the Open Arts Inclusive Choir – entirely unexpected and not on the programme or the blackboard of events in the foyer.
And what a treat they were too! The choir, disabled and non-disabled people of all ages and backgrounds sing together and have become one of Northern Ireland’s ambassadors, recognised for the quality of its work.
Beverley White formed the choir in 2000 and they have taken part in many choral competitions including the BBC’s Last Choir Standing where they made it to the final stages. With a clear focus, the light in their eyes shows how much they enjoy their singing. Their moving renditions of favourites such as ‘Be My Baby’, signed so expressively by one of their members and other unfamiliar but haunting melodies brought tears to many eyes.
I can still hear the crystal clarity of the soprano voice that rang out with such gut wrenching purity and the impeccable harmonies of the totally unaccompanied choir. The rhythms were irresistible, as they were played out in finger clicking, hand clapping and stamping of feet and everyone joined in when invited to show that choirs can be truly inclusive, even for those who are tone deaf like me!!!