The choir with a difference
notorious, established in 1997 under the leadership of Musical Director Clare Edwards, was founded with a clear mission: to create choral music that could be enjoyed by everyone, regardless of their background or prior musical experience.
It all began with a vision to bridge the gap between youth choirs and traditional choral societies. Clare, alongside a close-knit group of friends, embarked on the journey of forming a choir that integrated with busy lives and unique lifestyles. notorious was born, setting itself apart with a distinctive approach to choral music.
What started with 14 somewhat apprehensive singers has blossomed into a confident ensemble of 40 voices, creating the harmonious sounds you hear today.
Over the years, notorious has sung in diverse venues ranging from the Coffin Works on Halloween, inside the Singing Cavern in the Dudley canal tunnels, Birmingham Town Hall, on stage with Barry Manilow and also at more relaxed gigs in local pubs and Castle Bromwich Hall Gardens.
Our journey continues…
Our music continues to evolve, often incorporating music by new composers, the latest chart hits or less well-known choral works. The choir loves to collaborate with talented artists including – jazz soprano soloist – Gabriella Liandu, Beatboxer – Pye, Poet Laureate – Matt Windle and a theremin player – Ms Hypnotique to name a few.
Each term, choir members are excited to hear what’s next on the musical agenda, so come and join us on our journey!
Clare Edwards - notorious Musical Director
Clare is a multi award winning creative producer and general dynamo who started Notorious 26 years ago. She is Director of Learning and Events for Young Voices and in this role produces massed children’s choir events across the UK and around the world. Her 30 year CV includes producing choir-related events around the world with a specialism in making choir singing more accessible to people who might not otherwise take part. This work was recognised in 2017 when she was the recipient of the Lady Hilary Groves Prize – Winner for Outstanding Contribution to Music in the Community.
When she is not rehearsing or performing with notorious, Clare can be found singing soprano with Ex Cathedra or being a trustee for the YV Foundation, Arts in the Yard and Music Theatre Wales or growing flowers and food in her garden.
Rehearsals for notorious are one day a week, 19:30 – 21:30, in Kings Heath. Each week the rehearsal is on a different day (Monday through Thursday) to ensure that everyone can make the majority of the nights. After the rehearsals we like to head down to a local pub (usually the Hare and Hounds, or The Red Lion) for a bit of socialising
The notorious Committee is a fantastic group of individuals who are dedicated to making things happen. This exceptional committee is made up of six remarkable members, who are all incredibly passionate about the choir. If you want to learn more about these amazing individuals and the incredible work that they do, then we highly recommend checking out their bios
Meet Our Committee
Nigel Pietroni has the pleasure of being chair of notorious having joined in 2019. Nigel has sung in choirs first as a boy treble and then as a bass since he was seven years of age, first in church-based choirs before in recent years singing with a Male Voice Choir in Staffordshire. He had the joy of fulfilling a lifetime ambition of singing at The Albert Hall in The Festival of Welsh Male Voice Choirs along with 500 other men! He loves the huge range of music that singing with Notorious gives! We are a welcoming choir who love to have fun together .. why not join us? Outside of choir Nigel is married to Christopher and works as a Civil Celebrant! He has a love of France where he spends as much time as possible!
Rozy has recently taken over the secretary role with notorious. She’s been with the choir for a little over 5 years with one of her first concerts being the big 20th anniversary performance at Birmingham Town Hall. She comes from a very musical family and has sung in choirs since she was old enough to hold sheet music! She also plays piano, clarinet, and ukulele when there are enough hours in the day. She has a secret love of admin work which is why she’s enjoying the secretary role so much! If anyone has any queries or questions about the choir, feel free to drop her an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and she’ll get back to you!
Chris joined Notorious in September 2022 having been invited to take part with the choir’s performance of ‘Mass in Blue’ by Will Todd; which he admits was quite an introduction! He already sings with a workplace choir in Birmingham and got bitten by the choral singing bug around 6 years ago, and has loved being part of a choir ever since; so is now in two! Chris is proof that anyone with an ear for a tune and a decent sense of rhythm can learn to sing in a choir; despite still not knowing his minims from his crotchets he has managed to learn partly by ear and partly by reading the dots and squiggles on the music score! (having been steered away from music aged 12 in secondary school towards learning languages instead!) Chris is a self-taught guitarist and inherited a piano many years ago, so music is in his blood: he enjoys anything from church music to Coldplay, with instrumental pieces by Vaughan Williams and Einaudi being a passion too. Chris took over the role of Treasurer earlier this year; at last he is making good use of his work experience in his Saturday job as a teenager: calculating the payouts in his uncle’s bookmakers shop; so hopefully this will serve him well in this role!
Josie tried several choirs in Birmingham, before finally feeling at home in notorious! She grew up in a musical family and sang in the local church choir from age 4 - as soon as she was able to sit still for a whole service. Her music teacher encouraged her to learn the double bass to play in the school orchestra, but she still prefers singing - the voice is so much easier to transport! Josie feels very much at home in the alto section and also enjoys sitting in front of the Basses’ deep tones during rehearsals! Josie has now sung with the choir for 10 years and is always easy to spot in the lineup - a very tall second alto. She is also often found standing on chairs taking photos for social media posts and using her communication skills in the role as Publicity officer.
Julia joined the choir 10 years ago after making a New Year’s resolution to join an a capella choir! She was instantly drawn in by the variety of repertoire, interesting venues and friendly bunch of people. She was soon easily persuaded to join the committee as concerts manager, and has since planned gigs all over Birmingham. Her highlight to date was the Halloween gig in a coffin factory, complete with spooky tour! She enjoys the unique style and range of Notorious, from Cole Porter and Britten to Daft Punk and Muse, and loves planning concerts at fantastic venues around Brum!
Rachel is one of the founding members of the choir, having sung second alto since the choir’s humble beginnings in 1997 when the first concert saw about 15 slightly terrified people take to the stage for the first time. Since then Rachel has performed in all notorious performances aside from two, when a broken back and a baby arriving interrupted play. The variety of music tackled and the camaraderie between friends as well as the amazing impact on mental wellbeing is what keeps Rachel wanting more. She is currently masquerading as a tenor to boost the male voices, but this isn’t a permanent move!