Saturday, 10 November 2018
Choir leader Kate Howard returns to the Calder Valley
Kate Howard, a former resident of Hebden Bridge is a performer and teacher of singing with an international reputation. Kate is returning to the valley on Saturday, 17 November to lead a day of singing which will be hosted by the group of women singers which she set up over 25 years ago.
Kate formed the Calder Valley Women Singers after approaching the Adult Ed Centre about a class. Kate said, ‘They reluctantly agreed and I put up my hand drawn posters around the town – that first night some 30 women turned up to sing at Riverside School.’
It was a huge success and gave a voice to women who enjoyed singing together. Kate said she heard later that bets had been taken that a women’s singers' group would fail. How wrong they were! 25 years later, Calder Valley Women Singers continues to meet at Riverside on Wednesday evenings. A warm welcome is still offered to women wanting to sing a wide variety of music and learn by ear.
Before moving to Hebden Bridge, Kate was destined for a career as a classical singer in opera. But she was drawn instead to developing music in the community.
She had been a founding member of the Sheffield Socialist Choir which arose out of the miners’ strike support group. She recalls, ‘Many of us stood alongside miners and we sang songs together on picket lines and at demos up and down the country. After the strike ended we didn’t want the singing to stop so we formed a choir that expressed both our love of singing and our political views’.
Before that, Kate had been a Greenham Common woman in the early 80s. Kate remembers, ‘I saw how when women sang together we felt stronger and less afraid. It broke down barriers of age, race and class. We were equal in song’.
Kate’s passion for developing community singing also led her to establish a mixed choir. She said, One year both Calder Valley Women and Calder Valley Voices, a mixed choir I ran, hosted ‘Raise Your Banners’ a political choir festival in the town. The cinema was filled with hundreds of voices. Calder Valley Women sang there too. The choir was a place to make new friends, meet new people and also was the start of many a romance. It was welcoming and fun’.
Calder Valley Women Singers has evolved as a group and had many a singing leader after Kate moved to the US in the mid 1990s. Some of its original members still sing in the group and new women have joined over the years.
Kate maintains, ‘So much research has been done now to show the positive benefits of singing together and now its health benefits. It’s our birthright to sing and I still stand by the fact that anyone can do it. We might feel shy or feel we can’t sing but more often than not when we open our mouths it’s such a joyous experience and made even better by singing in a group’.
Women who would like to find their singing voices are welcome to come to Riverside School on Wednesday evenings from 7.30 for a free taster session.
A limited number of places for both women and men are available for to join Kate’s workshop at the Fielden Centre from 10.00 on the 17th November. Kate now lives in Scotland and leads the Cairn Chorus. The workshop is a fabulous opportunity to work with an excellent teacher and experience the joy of singing with others.
Further information on the workshop or CVWS, please email.
More information about Kate Howard.