We’ve all been affected by life in lockdown, and not being able to do the things that we normally take for granted. These limitations have impacted us socially and physically but also take a toll on our mental health and wellbeing. We are missing family members and friends, and the support that these connections bring. The choir are missing singing together, too, and the benefits that this brings to our own mental wellbeing. With over 150 members, getting together virtually is difficult, but our Musical Director, David Gibson, has been keeping us on musical track with weekly chats on YouTube, giving suggestions on music to listen to and help with singing techniques. It’s been a very welcome move, but it’s not the same as meeting in person. We last sang together as a choir back in March, shortly before the lockdown was enforced, and we should have been performing again on 7June at St John’s Smith Square, London with the Hanover Band.
Southampton Philharmonic Choir are currently charity partners with Solent Mind, Hampshire’s leading mental health charity, who offer a recovery-focused, person-centred and individual approach, providing advice and support to empower anyone experiencing a mental health problem. Retiring collections are taken at the end of each of the Phil’s concerts and have raised £930.80 since the start of our two-year association in September 2019. As our concerts have been cancelled for the foreseeable future due to the ongoing restrictions on social gatherings, we are conscious that this support has stopped, and because we believe that the important work of Solent Mind is even more vital in these difficult times, we have come up with a cunning plan!
On what would have been concert day, 7June, choir members – and friends and family – started ‘setting out’ locally to cover the 67-mile distance between our rehearsal home at Turner Sims, Southampton and the concert venue, St John’s Smith Square, either on foot or by other self-propelled means (e.g. bicycle or wheelchair), giving ourselves until 21 June to complete the task. Some participants are self-isolating and not able to leave their home/garden, so they are taking the Colonel Tom approach of building up the miles in the garden. Others are doing laps of the neighbourhood or getting out into the countryside, but all are observing social distancing. Some are making this an individual journey, while others are counting the miles as part of a virtual relay team (of up to four).
The main thing is that it's a bit of a challenge and is raising vital funds for Solent Mind! To sponsor our teams, please visit the Justgiving page.