How it all began
Stream of Sound started in 1997, when a group of young people who had been very impressed by the American Choir Northern Harmony, returned to Elmfield School in Stourbridge after the Summer Holidays and just wouldn't stop singing! Caroline just happened to be the lucky music teacher who was in the right place at the right time for once!
Once we'd been singing for a while, we planned a short tour, and so we needed a name. Suggestions were put into a hat, and 'Stream of Sound' was agreed on over a cup of tea around the kitchen table &emdash; it still suits us today! Various singers moved on to colleges that year, so we decided to make Tuesday evenings our rehearsal time: this is still when we rehearse, and a week always seems incomplete without it!
Over the years, about 300 young people have been members of Stream of Sound. Many have been Midlanders (Stourbridge being near Birmingham in the West Midlands), but a surprising number have joined us from further afield, both from within the UK and beyond. We’ve had singers join us from Sweden, Norway and Finland, from Germany, France, Belgium, Austria, Switzerland and the USA…
Although Matt and Nath are the only two people still with us from that first residential, many of our former singers have kept an involvement with music and we keep in touch with them and benefit from their experiences. Not surprisingly, many singers don't want to stop singing with us, and they have now become our leaders, bringing many skills and experiences of their own.
We ran our first residential session in 2001, based on a business plan that Matt wrote for a college project: he was told it would never work, but we've successfully run over 20 so far…Twice a year we stay at the wonderful Dunfield House in Kington, where we learn a new repertoire and then take it on tour for a few days.
Our first CD, entitled Stream of Sound, was recorded at Elmfield School in 1999. We've since followed that up with five more CDs: Good People All (2001), Stream of Sound Live (2002), New Old Songs (2005), Bottled at Source (2011) and finally, in 2012, in Black Voices' studio in Birmingham, we made Time & Tide. This last CD took us almost a year to complete, as we had to gather singers not only from all over England but also from abroad for each recording session - the reach of Stream of Sound is quite amazing! With wonderful artwork by Katy Coope, this CD is full of songs from our own traditions, arranged for the choir by Caroline, and we're extremely happy with it!
Highlights so far
We’ve performed hundreds of concerts in the last 13 years (so many we’ve lost count in fact) often to hundreds of people, sometimes to thousands… and once to one man and his dog.
We've been lucky enough to work with some real experts from global singing traditions: Carl Linich on our Georgian Music, Larry Gordon on our Shapenote singing, Dessislava Stefanova on our Bulgarian songs, Fran Hook on our early French songs, and Kate Howard on our South African music. We've also had a lot of encouragement from Black Voices.
We've sung in some amazing places over the years, for instance:
- Worcester Cathedral, (for a charity Christmas Concert)
- Birmingham Town Hall, alongside Black Voices and Ex Cathedra
- Performed a contemporary musical (by Andrew Christy) in an underground cave!
- Sung on a boat and a train, and in the Civil War centre, Worcester
- Run 27 Singing Days for young people
- Put on a workshop of local 19th Century church music researched by Fynn Titford-Mock
- We've been interviewed on local radio several times and been played on BBC radio 4 and recorded for BBC Radio 3’s The Choir programme.
- We've toured in Brittany and Normandy
- Sung in local folk clubs, (including our favourite - the Black Diamond, Birmingham)
- Put on a full performance of The Beggar's Opera, and performed it at the Sidmouth Folk Week 2006
- We've run vocal workshops for young people, and given concerts at Towersey Festival, the Shrewesbury Folk Festival, the Moira Furnace festival and the Sidmouth Folk Week.
…and we finally got to go full circle, and sang with the amazing Northern Harmony this year!
And the future?
More singing days, more workshops, more exciting projects with other choirs and musicians, and lots of concerts, we hope. Plus lots more young singers joining us…