Choirs from around West Sussex were brought together by their love for music on Saturday.
The first ever ChoirFest event held at the Alexandra Theatre in Bognor Regis saw passionate singers assemble for an afternoon and evening of performing.
Five enthusiastic choirs took part, each providing something different to the day.
These included: Voices of the South, from the Worthing and Adur area, Chi Choir, from Chichester, The Igloo Choir, from Havant, The Royal Air Force Association Choir, from Bognor Regis and The Bersted Community Choir from North Bersted.
The five choirs together consisted of well over 100 voices, making this by far the largest choir event organised by Bersted and Arun Arts.
Initially, ChoirFest was conceived by members of singing trio The Bersted Boys James Etheridge, Michael Gattrell and Will Hackett, who worked alongside Bersted and Arun Arts to see their vision come to life.
Will Hackett explained how much the success of the day meant to him.
He said: “The event was a great success and far exceeded our expectations in terms of how smoothly it went, audience numbers and participant feedback, especially considering it was the first time we had organised something on this scale.”
All the organisers involved were thrilled to see how many were taking part and kicked off the event at 2pm with a speech of welcome.
This was then followed by an essential warm-up to ensure the singers’ vocal chords were ready for the day ahead.
The afternoon was entirely for the benefit of the choirs and their leaders. Each group took to the stage to perform in front of their peers. This gave them the chance get comfortable with their surroundings and the stage.
The set lists prepared by the choirs proved to be entertaining and diverse.
A range of numbers both modern and traditional filled the auditorium with such songs as Bohemian Rhapsody by Queen, You Are Not Alone by Michael Jackson, Hold On by Wilson Phillips, and Walking on Sunshine by Katrina and the Waves contrasting with hymns such as Dona Nobis Pacem.
Having rehearsed together in the afternoon, the choirs were then presented with a 200-strong audience in the evening, eager to hear what they’d been working on.
The show was split into two halves with an interval and each choir was given two ten minute sets to show off their vocal talents – one in the first half and one in the second.
Hosted by James Etheridge and Michael Gattrell, from Bersted Arts, the performances were enjoyed by both the audience and choirs alike.
Regis Centre operational manager Hazel Latus expressed her delight at how the day had turned out.
She said: “ChoirFest was a great success. The choirs were all brilliant and very diverse, each offering something different and unique.
“The team have worked really hard to bring it all together and I’m so pleased it went down so well with the audience on Saturday – there was such a buzz afterwards from both the choirs and those who had come to watch.”
Generous audience members also donated money during the event towards the upkeep of The Regis Centre, which homes the Alexandra Theatre. All together, they raised an impressive £280.
Due to the success of the day, the organisers at Arun and Bersted Arts are already planning another ChoirFest event next year.
Dates for ChoirFest 2018 have been arranged for March 31 and April 1, and will take place once again at the Alexandra Theatre.
Those involved are hoping to welcome new choirs from across the region who would like to take part in what they are sure will be an even bigger and better event.
To find out more or to register an interest as a choir, visit their website www.berstedarts.com or email firstname.lastname@example.org