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Newham housing association residents take to the stage at Theatre Royal Stratford East

Residents from three leading housing associations struck up a song at the Theatre Royal Stratford East on Sunday 15 January as their community choir project was brought to an uplifting finale.

Fifteen residents from Genesis, East Thames and L&Q performed songs including Jackie Wilson’s “Higher and Higher” and a new composition following three months of taster sessions and rehearsals led by soul singer Byron Gold.  Their performance as House Harmony was part of a sell-out evening concert of the Stratford East Singers, a renowned local singing group which Byron leads.

The community choir project set out to give residents of all backgrounds and ages the chance to meet new people and enjoy participating in the arts.  It was funded by the Genesis Community Foundation, the housing association’s grant-giving arm which supports projects across its area of operation.

The Stratford East Singers are a singing group that formed in 2011.  In September 2015 they made it to the final of the BBC 2 series “The Naked Choir”, presented by choirmaster Gareth Malone.

Debbie, an East Thames resident who took part in the choir said "it was a fantastic opportunity.  I really, really enjoyed it.  I’ve gained confidence and new friends."

Lauren Picton, Volunteer Programme Manager at Genesis, said: House Harmony’s performance was amazing and exceeded expectations.  All of the choir members put so much hard work in and they should be really proud of what they have achieved in a short space of time.  Projects like this one are fantastic at bringing communities together to have fun while building confidence and new skills.”

Deborah Lamb, Resident Involvement Manager, commenting on behalf of the newly merged L&Q and East Thames organisations, said: “Byron and the Stratford East Singers have done a fantastic job coaching our residents who really impressed everyone with their polished final performance. Well done to everyone who took part and contributed to this celebration of our diverse local community.”