Olivia Devereux-Evans speaks to the new director of a local children’s choir while recalling how it influenced her own development
A much-loved Palmers Green children’s choir is seeking new members after the passing of its beloved founder.
Children’s Voices of Enfield (CVE) was founded by Dr June Keyte in 1994. June was an important anchor in musical education, teaching music and directing choirs for many years. Under her direction, the choir enjoyed countless residential trips, concerts, recordings and events. Sadly, June passed away in September 2020, aged 82.
As a member of CVE myself from 2009 until 2016, my memories of the choir and June are very special. When I started in 2009, aged eleven, I was shy and timid. However, this soon changed as June encouraged me to sing solos. These soon boosted my confidence and I am grateful I was part of the choir’s family, with June and her loving husband Christopher at the helm.
Exposed to numerous new opportunities, such as exchange trips with German and Italian choirs, I thrived. Safe to say, I made friends for life who I am in touch with to this day. I feel honoured to have known June, a kind and caring woman who brought so many of us together and gave me so much confidence.
June’s legacy lives on, with new musical director Laurence Williams stepping in to keep the choir going. Laurence sings, plays piano and directs multiple choirs. As a child, he was a chorister at Westminster Abbey. This experience has made him determined to teach the next generation to sing and appreciate music.
Laurence said: “I got the opportunity to sing every day. For me that was one of the most amazing gifts at that age. I really have a passion for ensuring the next generation get this music training.”
The pandemic had halted the choir’s rehearsals for a time. However, during the third lockdown, Laurence stepped in to run the choir with online rehearsals culminating in a virtual concert.
He told the Dispatch: “The passionate part of me said ‘we have to provide something for these kids’. It was an opportunity to get to know the children better.”
CVE has two choirs at present, the younger voices and older choir, conducted by Laurence and Giulia Laudano. Going forward, Laurence hopes to continue nurturing a vibrant choir community.
Explaining his plans, Laurence added: “One of the real beauties of a choir is the friends we make and the bonds that bind us to together through music. It brings real joy to us. We sing a range of styles.
“The idea is to give children the opportunity to come and learn how to sing and have some fun and build a skill.”
In-person rehearsals are now happening at Palmers Green United Reformed Church. This is in preparation for an informal concert in the church in June. Rehearsals are from 1pm-2pm on Sundays for children aged between four and eight years and 2.30pm-4.30pm for the older choir. Children of all ages are welcome.