Minsteracres choir, the Rubato Singers, travelled to Oakland, California this summer to perform with a sister choir raising money for the work of two charities both linked to homeless and mentally ill people on the margins. The need is particularly immense in the Bay area of San Francisco and Oakland.


NAMI (the National Alliance on Mental Illness) and St Mary’s Centre both address the epidemic of poverty, homelessness and mental illness especially affecting the elderly. They provide education and safe environments for recovery.

Two excellent concerts were sell outs and raised over $4,000. Our choir took with them a tribute to Mozart, Northumberland folk songs and Captain Noah and his floating zoo, performed in crazy masks with noises off.


Special talents within the group also meant we could offer our American hosts fast track teaching in Ceilidh dancing with the mighty Doonans taking audience and singers through their bemused paces.


It was a great treat for the 13 singers and their spouses who also worked tirelessly to make a success of the venture. Enormous fun was had by all too. Hospitality shown to us was incredible and great friendships have been forged between the two groups.

Cheering Oakland Athletic at an evening baseball game while eating huge hot dogs and trying to figure out what was going on was a truly bonding experience! We were treated to Paella parties, Mexican parties and a riotous burlesque show downtown.

A large group later camped out in Yosemite National Park and the singing continued there.