We get to know the Bahrain choir with 40 years in the bank
Time Out Bahrain staff
We get the lowdown on the Manama Singers.
If you were out and about across the island over the festive season, chances are you came across members of the Manama Singers providing entertainment at venues from The Diplomat to various small carol services.
But, as a very famous charity logo goes (and excuse the adaptation), this choir is for life, not just for Christmas. The Manama Singers celebrated their 40th anniversary last year, though the first ever real performance was of Handel’s Messiah in December 1972, and, as well as making beautiful music, they also raise thousands for charities across the island from Tony the Dogfather to Bahrain Association for Parents and Friends of the Disabled.
It’s a very inclusive organisation with chairman Anna Thompson-Hall explaining: ‘We’re a non-audition choir, so anyone can come and join in. I always maintain that with the right guidance a good singer can be brilliant and even someone who really only sings in the bath can be brought along and we have a number of trained singers who can help people.
‘And for anyone who really, really can’t sing but would still like to be involved, there are plenty of other ways to help from organising to being front of house at our concerts.’
The choir currently has between 60 and 70 members with some having been there almost from the start and others coming and going as work and travel commitments allow.
‘We’re always open for new members,’ says Anna. ‘And we’d particularly like to hear from men as there tend to be fewer male singers than female. For a lot of our male members it’s their one escape from work and they find it very therapeutic to commit to something where they have to switch off from the office, or whatever they do, and think about something else while having a good time among friends.
‘For the future, what we want is to bring music to a wider section of the public, to encourage people to get involved, foster a love of music and take part in live music.’
Members are Bahraini and expat alike with many different nationalities represented and each year the choir chooses a number of charities to support which are suggested by members.
It also sometimes gets involved in supporting particular individuals if the need arises.
There are usually three major performances per year at Easter, in the summer and at Christmas, and sometimes an autumn concert too. And the repertoire is varied from classics through to The Beatles, Queen and songs from the musicals from Andrew Lloyd-Webber and Rogers and Hammerstein.
Small groups of members can also be found taking part in other musical performances across the country from schools to clubs and fundraisers.
Members range from 16 (it’s an adult choir) to singers in their 70s, it’s completely multi-cultural and preparations are now underway for the Easter concert which will be Dubois’ ‘The Seven Last Words of Christ’ one of the composer’s best-known works. Rehearsals are at 7.30pm on Tuesdays at St Christopher’s Cathedral and anyone interested in getting involved can either just turn up or get in touch through www.manamasingers.com.