My name is Mary Bourne, and I am a freelance choir director.  I am founder and Musical director of  two  fabulous Singing it back community choirs in Kingston Upon Thames (formed 2008). Alongside setting up and musically directing  my own two community choirs, I work on a freelance basis and currently lead a workplace choir for the British Standards Institute and a “singing for breathing” choir at Charing Cross hospital for the British Lung Foundation

In addition to running weekly choirs, I also run an annual Summer Family Camping festival, Singing and Kayaking workshops as well as a brand new project for Spring 2017 called 3Flow. 

As well as running successful and fun weekly rehearsals, I have a wealth of experience and expertise in directing and producing performances for corporate and community events and some have been especially high profile. Fundraising performances in the community by Singing it back have supported The Mayor’s Dementia Appeal, ASK Appeal (where England Began),  KCAH, Love Kingston, Kingston Mencap, Woking and Sam Beare Hospice Charities. I’ve also had the pleasure of  coordinating The Rose theatre annual Xmas fundraising concert for the past three years and directed some fabulous memorable performances by the Singing it back evening choir. With over £17,000 raised thus far, through voluntary donations at our free concerts, or ticketed sales at the Rose theatre, it’s been a labour of love, laughter and music.  We are very grateful to our audiences made up of friends and families in our local communities. Thank you for supporting us so enthusiastically and generously.

From Sept 2012 – February 2016, I worked with the South London Military Wives Choir as their first musical Director. During this time I have been honoured to direct the Military Wives Choirs at numerous corporate performances to includeBen Ball 2013, Fashion for the Brave, BITC awards (in the presence of HRH Prince Charles, Prince Harry, Prince William) as well conducting a live televised performance of the National Anthem at Epsom Derby opening ceremony, June 2013 (HRH Queen Elizabeth) and NPL  Wembley Arena, Autumn 2015 ‘walk of Britain’ ceremony. An absolute privilege to conduct to an audience of 80,000!  A once in a lifetime moment.

During my role as vocal lead for RBK Big Sing (2013, 2014 and 2016) I co-ordinated and led brought over 300 singers at each massed choir event alongside some fabulous vocal leaders from the wealth of Kingston choirs.

On a weekly basis, I am honoured to lead over 200 voices and feel especially proud to be able to remember almost every choir members name. The workplace choir for the British Standards Institute (BSI ) offers a great opportunity for employees to re-connect, de-stress and re-energise during their lunchtime. Since being appointed musical director in Sept 2014  “The Chiswick Singers”  has gone from strength to strength. I’m enjoying the challenge of leading a choir in a workplace setting and seeing the great results that singing together is offering their employees.

In addition to leading large choirs,I also enjoy working with small ensembles. I especially enjoyed creating and directing a small ladies ensemble ‘Singers Corner” where I can work on a more intimate level with a smaller group of singers. I am currently looking into new music making opportunities with smaller ensembles and thrive on new opportunities to collaborate with like minded musicians.

My most recent project (May 2016-current day) has been working alongside the British Lung Foundation as a choir leader for their Singing for Breathing programme. A brand new and rewarding challenge working with patients with chronic Lung conditions.

My work in the community alongside some prestigious performance opportunities  has allowed me to develop my skills, bringing new and fresh challenges musically and socially. It’s wonderful that the simple act of singing as part of a group breaks down barriers, allows for shared emotion and creates such magical memorable moments (for both singers and audience) regardless of the experience of those involved.  

I love working with people and learn something new myself at every single session I lead.  I am really proud of the different groups I run and through our weekly or workshop meeting have developed a true understanding of how to connect musically with people from all areas of life. I have had the pleasure and honour of working alongside some brilliant composers, choir leaders, arrangers and accompanists who continue to inspire and help me develop as a musician.

Whether you choose to sing once a day, once a week or once a month you will reap the rewards. Singing raises self esteem and confidence. It is great for team building and friendships.  Singing can reduce blood pressure and boost the immune system, alleviate feelings of isolation, anxiety and depression.  Singing is a natural thing to do and indeed most of us made sing – song sounds before we could talk. Somewhere along the journey, it may have been suggested that ‘you can’t sing’ or that you were’ out of tune’ and thus have lost the confidence to sing.

My aim is to help those who have become slightly fearful of singing whilst also offering those who sing regularly to indulge their passion through a varied repertoire amidst a friendly atmosphere. I love nothing more than seeing the smiles on people’s faces as they begin to relax and start singing again.

I’d love to hear from you with a view to putting together a weekly choir or one off singing workshop. There’s endless possibilities and music to suit all occassions. Whether you need to get your workforce communicating more effectively, or simply fancy getting a group of friends together, I hope I can offer some ideas and practical advice on how to make that happen.  Do give me a call, or email mary@singingitback.com at anytime.