A CHOIR from Chepstow is keeping the coronavirus blues away by taking part in group singing sessions from the safety of their own homes.

Ben England, the new leader of the Larks Community Singers group, set up the Quarantine Choir after the coronavirus epidemic forced the cancellation of all his upcoming concerts.

But rather than suspending his choir practices, he moved his classes online – presenting a daily tutorial and singing lesson for anyone to follow.

Since starting up just over a week ago, the Quarantine Choir now has more than 750 members.

"You join a choir to be with people, and if you lose that it feels like you lose your family," Mr England said.

Free Press Series: The Larks Community Singers group rehearsing in Chepstow. Picture: Derek FowlerThe Larks Community Singers group rehearsing in Chepstow. Picture: Derek Fowler

The online choir started out as a way for Mr England's choir members in Chepstow, as well as in the Bristol area, to keep up spirits and communicate.

Glyn Jones, of the Larks group in Chepstow, said the Quarantine Choir was "good for moral and friendship".

That group, formed only recently, gave its first concert earlier this month in Tutshill to raise money for St Luke's Church and Chepstow Mencap.

But all rehearsals and future concerts have been cancelled because of coronavirus.

Dr Jones said the Larks' 30-odd members were instead all singing along with Mr England's daily videos.

Each day on Youtube, Mr England runs through a series of singing techniques, then teaches viewers the different parts of a song. He then finishes with a complete run through of the song, for his viewers to join in with from home.

And what started out as a local venture has blossomed – the Quarantine Choir now has members around the world, with singers from Japan, the Netherlands, South Africa, and Iraq all taking part.

Anyone is welcome to join in – and you don't need to be watching live to take part.

For Mr England, the experience has opened up new possibilities of connecting with singers online.

He is now asking the choir's members to record themselves singing along, so that he can stitch them together and create the full choir experience.

And he hopes to start a new weekly singing series for children, starting on Friday at 11am.

"If you'd told me two months ago that all my work would be cancelled and I'd be on zero wages – but that I'd be more professionally excited and energised than ever – I'd never have believed you," he said. "It fills me with joy to see people enjoy what I'm doing."

You can join in with Mr England's Quarantine Choir on Youtube at www.tinyurl.com/quarantinechoir.