Sarah Cheverton interviews Rebecca Robertson from Cantando FVC Choir about their ongoing fundraiser to support victims and survivors of domestic violence.
Sarah Cheverton: When we reported on Cantando FVC Choir, you’d recorded one video with more than 40 singers recording solo in their own homes. How has the fundraising been going?
Rebecca Robertson: When we decided to record our first song for Aurora New Dawn seven weeks ago we initially set a target of £150. During the first few days, we increased the target further as we had raised over £1000. I realised then that this could be something we could potentially do every week while we are rehearsing virtually, to try and keep that number getting higher and higher. We are now at £3150 and I’m so grateful to everyone who has donated so far.
Since then, you’ve been releasing a song every week, can you tell us how you coordinate so many people virtually?
My choir are such a massive part of my life and something that I’ve worked so hard on growing for the past 7 years. When lockdown began, I wasn’t sure if or how I could keep us going. We are such a close group of friends and an enormous support for one another. I’m a single parent so having these amazing women in my and my children’s life is such a blessing and life would be so different without them.
When lockdown began, in addition to missing the singing side of the choir, I knew I was going to miss the sisterhood and support network we have all created. Being in a choir is so much more than singing together; it’s about being a team and a community. I think this whole experience has proved more than ever that that’s what we have evolved into over the years.
We do our weekly sessions on a members’ Facebook live group. Everyone can see and hear me but unfortunately I can’t see anyone else. Everyone can still message, so we communicate that way in rehearsals. This is working really well and I’ve started to get used to doing it this way, which at first was a bit daunting. The benefit of doing it in Facebook is that if anyone misses a rehearsal, they can watch it back another time.
It’s been quite a learning curve!
We occasionally go on Zoom to do a rehearsal, mainly so we can see each other which is lovely, but with there being over 40 of us, I find the delay is a bit much. That said, it always ends up being really funny.
So in Cantando FVC Choir, we sing in three sections: Soprano one, Soprano two and Altos. Each week, I’ve been recording myself doing each part and sending it to everyone to learn, and we obviously practice it in rehearsals too. Then once it’s learnt the ladies record themselves singing it on their phones or tablets and send it back to be to put together. We have an amazingly talented lady in choir called Clara who has been creating the videos for us, which I’m so grateful for.
We understand Express FM are getting involved with supporting the choir, how did that come about?
We are on our seventh lockdown recording this week, and Darren Gamblen at Express FM has been playing recordings on his show every Tuesday, which is amazing. For our next recording, a few of the Express FM presenters are going to be involved too so I’m looking forward to that. We’ve also got some of the choir husbands – or ‘Mantando’ as we like to call them – getting involved.
Can you tell us about your forthcoming event and the challenges of organising something in the real world that’s socially distanced and safe, for both the choir and the audience?
The Jolly Sailor in Southsea have been supporting us by sharing our videos on their social media each week. The Jolly Sailor is where we rehearse and perform regularly and I can’t wait to get us back there. We are hoping, toward the end of July, to do a social-distanced performance outside the pub performing all the songs we have recorded in lockdown, again this would be a fundraising effort for Aurora New Dawn. We obviously just need to ensure that it is safe to do so first.
How can local people support the choir?
We aim to carry on recording a song each week and hopefully to continue to raise money for this wonderful charity. The best way people can support us is by sharing our videos and our Go Fund Me page – it would be so incredible if we could reach the £5000 mark by the end of this.
Finally, the issue of domestic abuse is clearly close to all of your hearts. If you could send a message to victims and survivors in the city right now, what would it be?
Aurora New Dawn do such amazing work with victims and survivors of domestic abuse and every penny of this money is going towards helping them achieve that and continue their work.
I think it’s so important for women to know that there is someone there to help and to not be afraid to ask for help because it’s the strongest thing you can do. Aurora are there everyday to help women who need help the most.
As a female voice choir, we are a strong network of women who are there to sing together, laugh with each other and be there for one another when one of us needs a lift. I am thankful every day to have these strong, inspirational women in my life. Hopefully we can continue raising money for Aurora New Dawn and helping other women who maybe don’t have that support network around them.
The Cantando FVC Choir are aiming to do a new video each week as part of their ongoing fundraiser for Aurora New Dawn. This week, the choir are singing Creep by Radiohead (as arranged by PostModern Jukebox). Donate to the Cantando FVC Choir fundraiser here, or share on your social media to help spread the word. Find out more about the Cantando FVC over on their Facebook page.
Aurora New Dawn, supported by You First, have launched a helpline for victims and survivors of domestic violence in Hampshire. The number is 02394 216816 and runs 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. For more information about Aurora, visit their website, Facebook and Twitter. You can email them at firstname.lastname@example.org.
You can also find out more about Aurora’s work and the impact the Coronavirus has had on their organisation and the way they work in our weekly series of articles with the charity.
Image by Cantando FVC Choir.
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