The Mayor of Camden, Richard Cotton, 2017

"The fabulous Primrose Hill Choirs embody the community spirit of Camden"
 

Singing for Spring
On the Hill magazine, 2017

St Mary's church was the venue for a concert by the Primrose Hill Choirs on Saturday 1st April. All three choirs looked as if they were thoroughly enjoying Musical Director Matthew Watts's eclectic selection of pop, folk and musical-theatre numbers. The audience swayed and hummed with enthusiasm too. We have heard that the social side is not neglected: "I've got to know so many more people locally", one choir member told us during interval drinks.
 

Gareth Malone of Primrose Hill founds three local choirs
Hampstead & Highgate Express, 2015, Michael White

Matthew Watts likes to call himself “the Gareth Malone of Primrose Hill”: and it’s a fair enough label for someone who has set up from scratch three choirs in the neighbourhood – every one of them a success story and doing their bit not only to get ordinary people stretching their vocal muscles but to reinforce a sense of community in that corner of NW1.

They started just three years ago when the former UCS schoolboy and Glasgow music graduate was sitting with his mother in their local restaurant, Lemonia, discussing the lack of singing opportunities within walking distance. “It struck me”, he said, “as a gap in the market. So I spent the next weeks leafleting every house around us, pinning posters to trees, to announce an inaugural meeting at the Primrose Hill Community Centre. 75 people turned up, and the Primrose Hill Community Choir was in business”.

PHCC was designed for everyone and anyone, with no auditions. And its open-door policy is charmingly captured in the logo Watts designed for it: a bird, a dog and a few notes of music, indicating that whether you sing like a lark or howl like a hound, you’re welcome. “In fact”, says Watts, “most people can sing better than they think. They turn up saying ‘Oh I’ve got a lousy voice’, and then amaze you with how good they are. They just need confidence and opportunity”.

Out of the ranks of singers in the PHCC, Watts then set about creating an auditioned sub-group for more complex repertory: the Primrose Hill Singers. And finally, with parents clamouring for something for their offspring, came the Primrose Hill Children’s Choir. Between them they sing everything from unison pop songs to opera choruses.