Sing Viva – Derbyshire Carers Choir Hits the Right Note for Darley Park

Sing Viva – Derbyshire Carers Choir Hits the Right Note for Darley Park

A newly-formed choir made up of local people who are carers will make their debut performance at The Hannells Darley Park Concert on Sunday September 3 with a diverse programme of well-known songs.

Sing Viva  – Derbyshire Carers’ Choir has been set up by Derby-based Sinfonia Viva, the East Midlands’ only professional orchestra, as part of its 35th anniversary programme - enabling more people than ever to experience creative music making.

As well as a packed concert programme across the region and beyond, Viva set itself a target of working directly with 3,500 people over the anniversary year through a series of education and community creative projects.   

The project has been made possible for a year with a £13,000 grant from the Bupa UK Foundation’s Caring for Carers funding programme as part of its focus to help unpaid adult carers to support, manage and improve their own health.

The choir has been meeting regularly to learn a new repertoire which they will perform on the Darley Park stage at 6.20pm - ahead of the main concert by Sinfonia Viva which starts at 7pm.

It is led by award-winning choral conductor David Lawrence and Stapleford-based music teacher and choir leader Caroline Swaby who is also bringing some members of her local choir Allegremente to support the first-time performers.

Caroline said: “We have around 20 regular members of Sing Viva at our rehearsals in Derby and they are gelling together very nicely.

“The programme is a mixture of well known songs from the shows and charts as well as a gospel medley – all of which will get the audience singing along and their toes tapping.”

Among the choir members is Gill Fennell from Derby who works full time as well as being a carer for her 12-year-old son who has a rare genetic syndrome which means that he has learning disabilities similar to severe autism; as well as her mum who has dementia.

Gill said: “I was part of a choir when I was younger and loved singing but it has gone by the wayside over recent years.

“I was very keen to join Sing Viva as it was the perfect opportunity to take up singing again without too much commitment and have some positive ‘me’ time outside work and home.

“It is also good to meet other people who are caring for friends and family and face the similar challenges and pressures.

“We are all a little nervous about performing at Darley Park but I think the audience will love the programme and I hope that we get a good reception from the thousands of people watching.”

Sinfonia Viva Education Manager Marianne Barraclough concluded: “There is a significant number of people locally who are carers for family members from children with special needs to elderly parents and many more who are furthermore juggling work and caring responsibilities.

“There is widespread recognition that, as well as practical support, carers can feel socially isolated.  They greatly benefit from the opportunity to take a well-deserved break and enjoy a group activity.

“Viva has a national reputation for our education and community work and Sing Viva – the Derbyshire Carers’ Choir is a natural progression for us as an Orchestra and meets the needs of an often hidden section of our local community.

“It is an opportunity to join like-minded people and enjoy the chance to try something new together in a relaxed and supportive environment. 

“Singing together is proven to be an excellent way of boosting self esteem and confidence, releasing pain and stress-relieving endorphins and being a part of a team that is creating something.

 “New members are always welcome to join our monthly sessions at the Voicebox in Forman Street, Derby. People don’t need to have any previous choral experience and David and Caroline are fantastic at helping people to find their voice.”

Tickets for the Hannells Darley Park Concert cost £2.50 in advance or £5 on the gate.  Under 16s are free but still require a ticket available at the Derby Live box office in the Market Place or online at

The outdoor spectacular has returned to the city after a year’s break thanks to support from Hannells, Flint Bishop, HUUB, Mortgage Advice Bureau, PKF Cooper Parry, Specsavers, Stratstone BMW Derby and Classic FM.

For more information about Sing Viva, please contact Andrew Nesbitt at Sinfonia Viva, Tel: 01332 207602 or email

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