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Cyprus community choir centre stage

By Bejay Browne

A Cyprus based ladies community choir formed less than a year ago is already making its mark and has performed alongside X-FACTOR winner Sam Bailey in Cyprus for two live concerts earlier this year.

They will be performing two concerts in Cyprus in the coming week.

They will then go on to perform at the Côr World Choir 20,000 voice event in Wales, at the millennium stadium in Cardiff next year, alongside a prominent concert orchestra, a renowned conductor and music director and some of the world’s finest solo artists and groups.

Julie Edwards, the Achord Ladies Choir’s founder and musical director told the Cyprus Mail: “Côr is Welsh for choir and the idea is of one choir, 20,000 voices. Most of us (there are 45) are signed up to go and sing at this huge event.”

The concert will combine male, female and mixed voice choirs from all over the world, who will be accompanied by a well- known conductor, with a number of stars leading the performers, she added.

The event will be televised and recorded for worldwide distribution and will highlight the power of choral music with both traditional and specially arranged pieces from renowned composers.

Edwards, 43, is originally from Wrexham in North Wales, but now lives in Episkopi, where she is the head of the Expressive Arts faculty at St Johns School. She said that she has always had a passion for music.

“A couple of years ago I started the ‘Episkopi Military Wives Choir’ and then handed that over to someone else. I decided I wanted to do something more formal and performance driven and since the age of 9, have always been in choirs during my life. My father and grandmother were both choir members at some point, it’s a family trait,” she said.

The choir has only been going since the end of January when it started with 14 members, and has now swelled to 45. Edwards said that the criteria to join the choir is simply an enjoyment of singing. There are no auditions, and people come along and have a go, to see what they think, she said.

“The choir also has a social element, and we get together, work on our voices and perform for pleasure and for charity. We have already supported the Cyprus Freemasons, the Royal British Legion and the animal centre at Episkopi garrison.”

Edwards admitted the most exciting performances so far have been alongside 2013 X Factor winner Sam Bailey, when she was in Cyprus for two live concerts this year.

Bailey, a powerful vocalist saw her debut single ‘Skyscraper’ shoot to the top of the charts, making it a Christmas number one. She has since supported celebrity artists such as Beyonce on her UK tour and Michael Bolton.

Bailey’s album reached number one in the charts, she has undertaken a live tour and released an autobiography. This year she supported Engelbert Humperdinck on his UK tour and she has also appeared as a guest presenter on the popular daytime TV show Loose Women.

Edwards said: “We opened for Sam at both her St Johns school amphitheatre concert as well as at Pissouri Amphitheatre. It was our first bit of fame,” she joked, “and it will be hard to top.”
Edwards described the experience as amazing.

“Sam is fantastic and she also came and worked with the students at the school, doing vocal work, warm ups and a question and answer session. They learnt one of her songs and sang it with her at the concert at the school. She is coming back next year and hopefully we will be working more closely with her.”

Edwards also noted that there is also a strong possibility that other well-known artists may be bought over to Cyprus by the same agency and the Achord choir will have a chance to sing alongside them.

“The agency has a number of well-known artists such as Status Quo and Chas and Dave on their books, it’s an exciting prospect,” she said.

The musical director said that the choir is best described as classical/contemporary and said that the upcoming gig on Friday November 20th at The Sunshine Restaurant on Currium Beach, will help to raise funds for the Royal British Legion.

“It’s quite a big venue and we are expecting to perform to an audience of around 200. The James Lambert Singers from Wales will also be here, they arrive on the island on Wednesday. There is a Cyprus link as I know a few of them from our days in another choir in the UK.”

In addition, Achord will join them at their hotel, the Imperial Beach in Paphos, at 8.30pm on Tuesday November 24th, to give a free concert, there will be a collection for Cyprus children’s charity, ‘One dream, one wish”.

The Cyprus Brass Band will also be performing and all three groups will join together to sing a Welsh hymn as the finale.

Achord Community Choir
Live performance by the choir. November 20. The Sunshine Restaurant, Curium Beach, Paphos. 7pm. €10/free. Tel: 99-741972

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