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Past Events

9th December

Ipswich Christmas Market
At the Butter Market

On one of the coldest days of the year so far, 13 brave souls from The VIPs gathered around the famous statue of Giles’s Grandma and started singing to passers by.

We quickly realised that we needed more focus for our un-amplified sound, and moved to the more accoustically friendly corner of Clydesdale House, opposite.

The steps at the entrance to Clydesdale House provided an even better stage.

We sang for the best part of an hour before the cold and wind got the better of us and we retired to a nearby Coffee House to warm up.

1. Do you have a busking venue we could use?
2. Thanks to the random Baritone who joined us from the audience and sang several songs note perfect. Do get in touch. We’d love to hear from you.
3. Must choose a warmer uniform for winter Busking!

2nd November

South East Federation of Women's Institutes
Group Meeting at Earl Soham Village Hall

50 delegates from WIs in villages all over the South East Region of East Anglia met in Earl Soham Village Hall for a little routine business before an evening’s entertainment.

We were able to provide lots of close harmony acapella singing interspersed with anecdotes from our MD, Pete Chapman, who, it turns out, was a native of Aspall, just a few miles up the road!

Our Chairman, Bob Sangwell, is an expert on the pitch pipe. In his other role as Master of Ceremonies, he also provided some of his wide ranging funnies, including one from his native Worksop, in darkest Derbyshire. Imagine his surprise when he found a lady in the audience who used to be a near neighbour from “Up North”! Cue natural break for “Long lost friend” embrace.

Brian Crockett emerged from the ranks to entertain with a neo-classical piece on his guitar, followed by one of his own songs.

To judge by the applause, our audience enjoyed the evening at least as much as we did. The hot soup and cake were a most welcome reward for thirsty singers and a tasty way to finish off a happy evening.

15th October — Kirby-le-Soken

The VIPs sang at The Red Lion, Kirby le Soken for Frinton Literary Festival‘s “Performance, Poetry and a Pint” evening, organised for the Frinton Literary Society.

Despite the cosy surroundings, we were made very welcome, and also enjoyed the reward of a free drink at the bar afterwards. Thank you!

For details of other events during the Festival, visit Caxton Books web site.

22nd June to 2nd July

Harwich Music Festival

A full 10 days of musical and theatrical activities of all sorts, which took over the old town of Harwich this summer. This year it ran from 22nd June to 2nd July with multiple venues hosting an amazing variety of acts each day. Truly something for everyone!

The VIPs sang their ‘Up To 20’ slot at 6.30 pm on Tuesday 27th June in The Bandstand, Cliff Park, as part of The Festival. The cameraman was late, as usual!

If you searched hard enough you would have found us singing at The Alma Inn near The Waterfront afterwards! Check out the video on our Facebook page at Alma Video.

Saturday 27th May 2017

43rd Annual Barbershop Convention at the Bournemouth International Centre.

We returned to the competition stage after a one year break, and a winter of Training and Practice, and Training, and more Practice. We were now a much smaller and much less experienced chorus than previously. With so few voices, it is harder to hide any imperfections, so we were not too disappointed with our 27th place out of 37 choruses, beating several groups with many more singing miles under their corporate belts!

But it's not all about us! There were some remarkable packages from the leading choruses, some with 50 plus singers on stage, and all with such precision as we could only dream of.

Oh! yes, and our old friends, Portobello Road, walked off with the Gold Medal in the Quartet competition after several years of Silver. This was a fabulous performance of which they can be justly proud.

Saturday 17th December 2016

The VIPs in Ipswich

We opened proceedings with a pop-up rendition of the mediaeval round "What a goodly thing!", followed by "Nevertheless". Imagine our surprise when we were greeted with a substantial round of applause from the rapidly gathered band of spectators!

Our opening numbers soon drew a crowd at The Buttermarket.

Our close harmony version of White Christmas achieved the same effect and they seemed equally happy with several other numbers before we took our first break. Ten minutes later, we were back, but with a new crowd to entertain, and they seemed just as happy with our brand of Christmas cheer.

Our VIP groupies, alias Pat and Jen, were busy distributing cards, and were pleased to receive lots of complimentary remarks on our behalf. Some were surprised that Ipswich had such a talented group, and one person added that we sounded much better than when they heard us last July, so Pete's hard work must be paying off.

Our next port of call was Sailmakers, newly re-branded from the old Tower Ramparts, and now filling up nicely with smart new outlets and attractive eateries.

Sailmakers also provided a willing audience.

Shoppers here enjoyed several of our old songs including a rousing chorus of "Do You Hear The People Sing?", the rabble-rousing number from Les Miserables, and the ever popular closing song, "An Irish Blessing".

So ended a most enjoyable couple of hours spent entertaining the good people of Ipswich, providing a little light releif in their busy shopping day. We hope you all ejoyed listening as much as we enjoyed performing. We now have lots of work to do ahead of our appearance at the Barbershop Convention in Bournemouth next May, but we are hoping to show them off at our next Concert in the coming Spring. Maybe we shall see you there.

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Sunday 18th September 2016

The VIPs at Ickworth Church

St Mary’s Church, Ickworth, is a small and charming family church lovingly restored by the Ickworth Church Conservation Trust to the way it must have been for most of its life before all the modern trappings of electricity and heating.

This is why we elected for a 4.00 pm start, although thankfully, we don't need candles to read our music!

The VIPs enjoying the ambience of this charming venue.

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Saturday 6th August 2016

The VIPs in Bury St Edmunds

Our previous visit to Bury St Eds was to sing in the BBC Christmas Concert in the Cathedral last December, so the chill of a winter's evening seemd a world away as we assembled on Cornhill on a gloriously sunny afternoon among the crowds of shoppers. We soon discovered that you need narrow streets and tall buildings to help focus the sound of an acapella chorus on a busy market day, and we made our way along to Moyes's Hall Museum where we made one gentleman's day by inviting him into the singing circle!

Getting into the swing of it with “Nevertheless”.

And enjoying some welcome shade by The Nutshell.

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Sunday 31st July 2016

The VIPs in Ipswich

This was our first foray into the world of busking. Get your act together and just go out there and sing, they said. Well, to be fair, the world of Sunday shoppers in Ipswich is not so challenging. We were blessed with a sunny day and with a round dozen singers plus our new MD, we managed to attract the attention of a good number of passers by, most of whom seemed well pleased with what they heard. Some even stopped to hear more – always a good sign.

A little early discussion about site and song!

Into our stride outside The Old Post Office.

In Tavern Street.
If you liked what you heard, do email us or come to a rehearsal night. We are available for bookings, and we are always on the look out for new singers.

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Saturday 2nd July 2016

Harmony and Soul Benefit Concert – In aid of Suffolk Refugee Support.

Compered by our own inimitable Bob Sangwell, this Concert was organised by St Matthew, Triangle & All Saints, the lively Anglican Church group, at St Matthew's Church, on Portman Road, and featured The Suffolk Soul Singers with support from Suffolk's Barbershop chorus, The VIPs and close harmony quartet, Acafella.

The event kicked off with the recently revived VIPs performing some old favourites and some new material.

We really enjoyed getting on those risers again.

Acafella gave us humour and entertainment with their own brand of close harmony Quarteting,

and it was good to share the evening with the vibrant and exuberant sound of The Suffolk Soul Singers.

The Church was well filled and the evening helped to fill the coffers for Suffolk Refugee Support to the tune of over £1500.

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Saturday 28th May 2016

BABS Convention – Chorus Competition

The Barbershop Convention weekend at Harrogate was as amazing as ever. Such a huge quantity of talent on show, and some healthy competition for the top prizes as well.

Full Chorus and Quartet results can be found on the BABS Results page here

Most of us went this year, even though we were not performing, and this seems to have reawakened our competitive spirit, ’cos we have already entered for next year’s competition in Bournemouth.

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Sunday 13th December.

St Edmundsbury Cathedral.
BBC Radio Suffolk's Annual Carol Concert in Aid of Children in Need

Radio Suffolk's Christmas Concert returned to St Edmundsbury Cathedral in Bury St Edmunds this year, and provided a musical celebration of Christmas with readings from BBC Radio Suffolk presenters with performances from a host of local talent and some robust singing of our favourite carols, all in aid of Children In Need.

We were honoured to be joining the St Edmundsbury Cathedral Choir and The St Cecilia Chorale together with The Seckford Ensemble, a quintet of fine Brass Instrumentalists, and a young folk-inspired duo with the delightful title, Honey and the Bear.

If you would like to read the full report, please use the link to Children in Need Carol Concert .

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Sunday 29th November. Bury St Edmunds Christmas Fayre

We were invited to sing at the Christmas Fayre in Bury St Edmunds this year. This was a charming event held over the weekend from Thursday evening the 26th to Sunday afternoon the 29th November. There were lots of stalls, attractions and events all over the Town Centre during the weekend. Fortunately, the rain held off for us, although the wind proved challenging, especially for some of the stall holders!

Alan, “doing his thing” in Teddy Bear

We sang at midday on the Sunday and were just loud enough to hold the attention of the passing crowds, against the howling wind and flapping canvas!

Here are just a few of our loyal supporters and some interested members of the great Bury St Edmunds public. It was an hour of fun for us, 'cos we love singing, but I think we were all secretly looking forward to the relative calm of The Cathedral in a couple of weeks time!

Saturday 17th October. Autumn Harmony ‐ The VIPS Concert Evening.

What a splendid evening this was. A feast of A Capella singing from some of the best in the country! The evening, at The Drama Hall at Suffolk One Sixth Form College, opened with a set from The VIPs, including the Elvis classic, Love Me. Our own Bob Sangwell took over the reins with his laid back North Country humour, mildly tainted with Essex, before introducing the hugely talented girls from Kent, Viva Acappella, fresh from their Convention Gold Medal winning performance in Nottingham. Portobello Road rounded off the first half in their smooth as silk style, in a set which included Shakin’ All Over and a heartfelt rendition of Grow Old with You, learnt especially for Gaynor’s big birthday last month.

The interval was notable for the excellent wine, courtesy of “Wines of Interest”, and a well supported raffle ‐ so well supported that we ran out of tickets! The buzz of conversation among families and friends was a clear indication that we had given the audience lots to talk about.

The audience warmed to Hot Note, firing off the second half with three cracking numbers demonstrating clearly why they were such deserving Double Gold Medal Winners this year. They then joined forces with Portobello Road to perform an enchanting octet arrangement of Misty, the Earl Garner jazz standard made famous by Johnny Mathis in the ’50s.

Almost reluctantly, Bob Sangwell returned to charm us with his shortest “Country” song, and the sad tale of “Lucille” as you’ve never heard it before! I think even he was surprised by the gales of laughter. Viva Acappella brought us serenely back to the main event with a set that included CeeJay’s always passionate rendition of “I Feel Good”.

The VIPs returned with the rousing “Do You Hear The People Sing?” from Les Miserables and our 2015 Convention number, the touching “Love Letters”. The assembled company sent a happy audience home with The Irish Blessing ringing in their ears, and a promise to see them at another event soon.

Tuesday 15th September. The VIPs AGM.

While this is not a public event, it maybe helps for people to know that we are a properly constituted Club running under the auspices of The British Barbershop Harmony Society (BABS) and we are required to hold an Annual General Meeting to review the past year's activities and financial afairs, elect our management committee for the coming year and present and discuss plans for the future.

After just two years of rehearsal and public singing, The VIPs have made amazing progress, especially in our Convention performances, although perhaps our local public are less sure about who we are and what we can do. Occasional, and very welcome, airing on Radio Suffolk has helped, but we have not been successful in finding suitable gigs over the last 12 months or so and have some difficult decisions to make, particularly about recruitment and about finding performance opportunities.

However, we are hugely encouraged by the Contest Evaluation Summary which we received recently, after our Llandudno Convention performance. We certainly put Suffolk Barbershop “On the Map” and we hope to keep it there for many years to come.

Keep your eye on these pages to discover what we plan for the next year.

Friday 22nd May and Saturday 23rd May. National Barbershop Convention - Llandudno

What an amazing festival of Barbershop excellence we were treated to at Venue Cymru in Llandudno.

The VIPS performance wasn’t too shabby either, with 10th place and 69.9%. With 29 men on the risers, we were not included among the small choruses this year, (the limit is 25 or fewer), but it was a good performance nevertheless.

Here we are, on stage in our new uniform.

Our three full day rehearsals obviously paid off, allowing us to put on a convincing performance with an otherwise difficult second song - and the colour of our new shirts impressed everyone who saw them.

Our dress rehearsal, put together on 19th May for friends and family, proved a useful trial for the contest ahead, and gave our families some idea what we had been working towards over the last year.

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