Costa del Sol
Tuesday, 23 January 2024, 11:30
Members of the Love to Sing Costa del Sol choir are gearing up for their 2024 schedule of fundraising concerts, which this year will be used to raise money for local cancer charities. Since its inception in 2017, the amateur choir has raised more than 15,000 euros for local charities and worthy causes, including helping to buy prosthetics for local Spanish girl Sarah Almagro, who lost her feet and hands to sepsis in 2018. It has also supported several local animal shelters and charities, as well as Aspire Mama Africa (AMA), a charity that helps women in Morocco, and the Botika Centre (Casares), an organisation that cares for people with neurocognitive disorders such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and Huntington’s.
Under the dedicated direction of musical director Shirley Helleur, the choir performed many concerts along the Costa del Sol last year, raising a total of 6,500 euros, and it is hoping to better this figure in 2024.
SUR in English spoke to Shirley Helleur, who is also the founder of the choir, about how it came together and why the members choose to help others with their music.
A former secondary school director of music, Shirley settled in Manilva in 2017, after moving from Malta where she had lived since 2005, and she soon got involved with the expat community of the area.
“I joined a social group on arriving in the area. One day, someone suggested that we should start a choir. Once everyone had stopped laughing, I said that, as I also play piano, I would be prepared to do it, so Love to Sing was born,” Shirley explained.
The choir performs around 12 concerts each year, and the members decide among themselves who should benefit from the funds that they raise.
“It tends to be suggestions put forward by the choir. We try to share the money around where it is needed most. We support local charities and emergency situations that need financial help. For example, when we had the forest fire problems in 2022, we donated money to the firefighting services, because they had been so fantastic. Our festive concerts usually support underprivileged families. This year, the majority of the performances will be in support of local cancer charities,” she said.
The singers offer a varied repertoire of music, from The Beatles, Queen, Adele, Abba and Bert Baccarach, to popular songs from musical shows such as Mamma Mia!, The Jersey Boys and Les Misérables.
The choir currently has around 45 regular singers, but Shirley is appealing for more to join. There will be an open evening on Wednesday 24 January at 7pm at the weekly rehearsal venue (Villa Matilde, Avda Leopoldo Aras Clarin) in Manilva.
“If you are interested in singing, then information can be found on our Facebook page, or come along to the open evening. You don’t need to be professional, or be able to read music, but experience is quite important. The problem is that some of the members have been with us since the beginning, so if we accept people with no experience, they cannot catch up. So often people join and then drop out a few weeks after, and this disrupts our schedule,” Shirley said.
The choir has several concerts already lined up for this year, the first of which is at Manilva International Day in May. Shirley is also offering the choir’s services to anyone interested in hosting a charity event, although she stresses that people should contact her as soon as possible in order to guarantee a date.
For more information, see the choir’s Facebook page.