Stoke Sings Festival Online 2021

Join your singing community on 13th March 2021 for an uplifting day of connections through workshops and the premiere of the Stoke Sings Virtual Choir!

13th March 2021 was the date we had booked the Victoria Hall in Stoke on Trent for the Stoke Sings Festival.
We did not feel able to let the date pass without doing some singing together, even though it will have to be online. We can do it!

Stoke Sings Festival 2021 will be on zoom, a video meeting website.

We are asking for a minimum of £3 donation to cover the costs.
We would like you to pay-what-you-feel and what you can afford.

This will give you access to the full fantastic programme:

  • 11am – Welcome, introduction and physical warm up to get us ready to sing
  • 11.40am and 12.40pm – Choice of workshops including songs in a variety of styles and genres, and techniques for making the most of your voice. Full details are at the bottom of the page.
    • The Magic of the Musicals
    • Sing out of lockdown!
    • Choir in a Box
    • Shaping your sound
    • Polyphonic Songs
    • Hits from the 80s
    • “Pandemic Hallelujah” a song for now
    • How to give emotional song performances
    • Rediscovering YOUR voice
  • 1.20 to 1.50pm Harmony Cafe Bar open – a space to say hello, catch up with friends and meet new people!
  • 2.20pm – Keynote workshop on Gospel with Professor Kathy Bullock from Kentucky in the United States.
    • Kathy is a specialist in performing and conducting African American Sacred Music throughout the United States, Europe and Africa. She will talk about the role gospel songs play in civil rights and present day social movements and share songs of hope and joy during these challenging times. The workshop will be 1 hour.
  • 3.20pmThe “Harmony Cafe Bar” opens, including the premiere of the Choir in A Box virtual choir video of The Wellerman made by Steve Mitchell and his participants from the morning workshop at 3.30pm
  • 3.40pm – Big Sing workshop.
    • We will learn two short, familiar, joyful songs together then perform them to a backing track as one big online pop-up choir . This is followed by
    • The world premiere of “Singing Again” from the newly formed Stoke Sings virtual choir!
  • 4.30pm – The “Harmony Cafe Bar” opens – a space to say hello, chat, share songs and stories, watch and listen to clips of singing we have been doing in the last year and generally enjoy some time together. The room will stay open until the last person leaves (last one in turn off the lights please!)

We are asking you for a minimum donation of £3 for the event. We call it pay-as-you-feel. If you can afford more, we would like it if you can pay more. We are not making a profit. All surplus money after we have covered our costs, will go towards future Stoke Sings community singing activities. Our aim is to reach people who experience barriers to singing, and people who will benefit the most from the social, health and wellbeing benefits of singing together.

Please book here on Eventbrite.

Don’t miss your chance to be part of the virtual choir.

Record a video of yourself singing this specially written song from Shan Jones and Martin Jones.
All the instructions can be found here on the Stoke Sings Virtual Choir page.

Send in your video by the 5th March!

Workshop choices

When you have booked, please go to the Stoke Sings Workshop Choices Form to tell us which workshops you would most like to take part in. Please make your choices by the 8th March if you can. This will help us allocate your place. We cannot guarantee you will get your first choice.

The workshops are:


  • The Magic of the Musicals:  Favourites, Forgotten Classics, Modern Masterpieces, with Dan Hollingshurst. A whistle-stop singing tour of as wide a variety of songs from West End and Broadway stage musicals as we can fit into 40 minutes!  To quote a classic Stephen Sondheim song, there will be “Something Familiar, Something Peculiar, Something for Everyone!”  Enjoy your front-row (Zoom!) seat as we sing a variety of show-stoppers you’ll know and love, golden oldies from Broadway’s bygone days and ballads from more recent musical theatre shows.
    • Dan leads regular online rehearsals for 6 local choirs plus a variety of one-off workshops and sessions. He led an online carol-singing event for the international Military Wives Choirs Foundation, with hundreds of singers attending from a number of different countries and led two Staffordshire-wide Christmas singalong events as part of a Digital Christmas Festival. Dan was involved with recording a number of ‘virtual choir’ videos. As a musician he has performed in 2 international online concerts. He teaches weekly piano and singing lessons one-to-one online. Dan is the composer of last year’s finale Sing Together, and conducted his Endon and Fulford Community Choirs.
  • Sing Out of Lockdown! with Kate Barfield and Greg Stephens. Kate and Greg will share some songs relevant to the last year of lockdowns including songs that have been created during the pandemic.
    • Kate leads Loud Mouth Women and Clay Chorus community choirs and  the Village Voices (Singing for Lung Health) group. Kate has sung with the Boat Band for 30 years. Greg has written songs and music for over 50 musical productions, and helps run Clay Chorus and Village Voices. He composed the finale for Stoke Sings 2019, and arranged Auld Lang Syne and the Parting Glass for Stoke Sings 2020.They have been running the Clay Chorus and Loudmouth Women online throughout the pandemic, and recently re-opened the Singing for Lung Health Group. Kate has been teaching violin online, and together they have been performing via zoom at London’s Musical Traditions Club and other virtual venues. Kate has run an online violin workshop for Fiddle-d-Dee society.
  • Choir In A Box: The Wellerman with Steve Mitchell. First of all we will learn the song, parts and verses from The Wellerman – a current internet sensation. Secondly we will capture from zoom a film of everyone singing the song. This will be a muddle due to lag, bad signal and digital delay BUT it’s a shortcut! Thirdly you will all record your own voices on a separate device eg phone at home. You will need to wear headphones connected to your zoom device so you only record your voice and none of the backing! Next we will choose 6 soloists for the verses who will send in a video singing a verse, with headphones on a separate device. Finally Steve will scoot off and combine the voices, zoom capture and solo videos into a one-off virtual video.
    • Steve leads InterTheatre Choir who have raised the roof with their sheer joy of singing in Stoke Sings Festival concerts 2019 and 2020. Reacting to the inevitable, they started first zoom sessions in  the middle of March, a week before lock down in preparation for maybe a few weeks of online sessions. They have been meeting nearly every day on zoom running Sing A Long Sessions, drama and film sessions, virtual choirs, meditation sessions and now arts and crafts sessions. They have made over 20 virtual choral videos, virtual radio series, lockdown films and drama videos and had several successful virtual concerts in the summer and at Christmas.
  • Shaping your Sound workshop with Grace Allwood. A practical look at vowel shapes with a focus on the application for blended sound in choral singing.
    • Grace is the leader of MicWire. She is an accredited teacher for Vocal Process helping to facilitate practical sessions within online courses delivered by Dr Gillyanne Kayes and Jeremy Fisher. Grace runs private and schools based singing and piano tuition on zoom.
  • Polyphonic Songs with Paul Rogerson. In this workshop you’ll be singing a traditional song from Ukraine. A song that, serendipitously, celebrates the profound act of going down to the shops to meet someone outside of your bubble! Paul says “It made me cry with joy when I first heard it. I hope we can feel that together!” This workshop is for anyone of any gender​.
    • Paul runs Up Men Sing – a choir that enjoys polyphonic songs from places like eastern Europe and Georgia. It’s a choir where we all recognise that singing is an intrinsic part of feeling connected and in good mental health and we talk about that. We’ve been meeting to sing on Zoom through 2020 and it’s been worth it!


  • Hits from the 80s with Martin Jones, composer of Singing Again our Stoke Sings Virtual Choir song this year. Expect uplifting hits from Erasure, the Communards and the Buggles in a life affirming session of upbeat music. Sing along with familiar melodies or learn some optional harmony parts, the choice is yours. Mullet wigs and shoulder pads welcome!
    • Martin has run weekly virtual choir sessions with his 2 choirs (Broughton and Eccleshall) since the start of the pandemic as well as virtual band sessions for the Eccleshall Community Band. During the Summer he led virtual Sea Shanty sessions for his shanty choir the Fair Weather Sailors, and in the current lockdown has started a virtual choir for a local primary school. He teaches piano and saxophone over Zoom and has created many virtual performance videos with his friend Dom Gwynne using the name “Impersonal Studios”.
  • “Pandemic Hallelujah” a song for now with Caroline Walton. Caroline has written this version of the famous song “Hallelujah” by Leonard Cohen in 4 part harmony, over the last few months. She took half a song to Loud Mouth Women choir and asked for contributions to expand it. They pooled ideas and this led to 2 more verses. The chorus also evolved from one word to 2 words with asides which change each time.
    • Caroline has used Zoom to teach piano/recorder and for online choir sessions for Loud Mouth Women as deputy leader. She is an experienced Primary School music teacher and community musician.
  • How to give emotional song performances that your audience will really believe with Kate Cubley leader of MicWire. In this interactive workshop we will explore the idea of primal sounds used in singing. We will learn how they could help get more truthful and emotional performances. We will begin with a brief evolution of singing, explain why song is seen by most humans as such an emotional form of expression, before trying out six convincing primal sounds. When we have tried these sounds in isolation, we will test them out in songs from different genres, explore how they might be used to create emotional, believable performances and how you can make appropriate vocal choices when you are singing across genres (especially useful for those of you singing lots of different music with many different choirs!).
    • Kate Cubley is the leader of MicWire. She is lecturer at Voice Workshop/ UWTSD and runs a private studio as a Voice Coach and Singing Teacher, in Cheshire. She encourages singing for fun, and specialist in voice pedagogy, vocal health, body alignment, phonetics, emotion and performance.  Kate researched online singing tuition as part of her MA in 2017 but has been teaching singing online since 2015. Her maternity leave finished in September 2020 and all her work has been online since then. She hosts monthly group singing workshops and teaches choir online each week.
  • Rediscovering YOUR voice with Ashley Mellor. Lockdown and the last 12 months has had an immeasurable impact on what we all love doing most; singing. Whether on your own in the shower, or in the Victoria Hall with 400 other voices, we all love a fabulous sing. BUT, has lockdown knocked your confidence? Do you feel out of practise? Do you feel your voice has changed? Join Ashley for a workshop about rebuilding a positive relationship with your voice, so you can once again ‘belt’ out a tune in the car or one day soon with an amazing group of people around you. Let Ashley help you rediscover your voice, and build your confidence again from the safety of your own home, before we head for the ‘new-normal’.
    • Ashley is the leader of Staffordshire Community Choirs and has 10 choirs rehearsing each week on Zoom. He has organised zoom events including ‘Songs from the Shows’ sing-a-long, Come & Sing Vivaldi Gloria, Messiah online concert, The Sound of Music workshop, Boost Your Confidence and Finding your voice online workshops. Ashley leads various vocal coaching masterclasses and workshops for colleges and choirs.

When you have booked on eventbrite please fill in the workshop choices form.

After you have booked we will send you an email with the links to the zoom online meeting rooms for the day.

Credits for official Stoke Sings photographs on this website go to Tony Jones, Kim Watson, Lydia Hopwood and Jaro Ralph.

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