Four years on from when the TV cameras first assembled for Gareth Malone’s The Choir: Unsung Town , the South Oxhey Choir is still drawing a crowd and the group has big plans as it returns to the Watford Palace Theatre with its Summer Concert, following on from the success of last year’s performance.

New chairman Steve Pickering says the committee was practically working full time to keep the choir running.

“We’ve been working really hard to encourage new members and widen our repertoire,“ he says. “Our director Simon Wookey has been bringing in some more challenging sacred songs and these went down very well at our concert at St Martins-in-the-Fields in April where we had a real mix of tourists and classical music fans. The sound in the church was just fantastic.“

Steve, a training manager and mentor, explains how the group has been getting to grips with all sorts of indoor and outdoor environments, which has helped them develop.

“Two weeks ago we were on a portable stage on the Brighton seafront, which was completely different to a theatre event. Simon does encourage us to consider our environment such as when we sing for the South Oxhey Parish Council fun day and really have to punch it out as the sound doesn’t travel.“

The emphasis has also shifted away from solos to larger ensemble pieces.
“Simon has worked really hard on inclusion this year, so there are sectional highlights and we’ve been working more on harmonies, diction and breathing techniques.“

Onward and upward, the choir’s recent open rehearsal attracted 25 new members. The group is now looking for a volunteer to promote its concerts and events.
“We are concentrating this year on making the choir solid for the next few years and celebrating four years locally in September. When we started, it was like learning to ride a bike with somebody pushing us with the stabilisers on and all we had to do with sit in saddle. That was our time with Gareth. Now we have to work as a choir in our own right. Next year, we’re looking at applying for charitable status and reinstating the youth choir.

“We are an extended family now and the community is getting far more diverse, so it’s really nice to see a mix of members coming through. We would love to expand the male youth section and attract more bass and tenors. The benefit it has brought people who attend is invaluable in terms of confidence and ability to communicate and it’s brought the community together with people asking for help who would never have asked for help.“

For the Palace concert the choir will be singing a mix of pop, rock and classical arrangements from Fats Waller, Coldplay and Sting to Mozart and Vivaldi, plus Simon’s arrangements of popular hits including Starmaker from Fame , Christina Perri’s Jar of Hearts and McFly’s It’s All About You .

The South Oxhey Choir Summer Concert takes place at Watford Palace Theatre on Saturday, July 21 at 7.30pm. Details: 01923 225671,