a) Who we are:
We come from a variety of backgrounds and locations around East Lancashire. We share a broadly open minded, principled, 'liberal' approach and some of us would call ourselves 'socialists'. We celebrate the 'Clarion' tradition of singing as a part of radical campaigning but our songs are not restricted to that tradition.
b) How we sing, who can join and our values:
We are led by Janet Russell who is a Natural Voice Practitioner. We support the NVP approach of non-accompanied singing of songs taught by ear (notation is available); open access membership with no auditions; not taking part in competitions; the singing of songs in minority languages and singing in a choir that puts their community before perfection in their performance (but we do aim to and often achieve a high standard of choral singing). We believe that everyone can sing, including in public, and should have that right. We see all of these as part of our 'political' values.
c) Our sessions:
We meet (currently) weekly during Term Times on Thursday evening @ St Peter's School, Church St, Burnley BB11 2DL (free playground parking) from 7.30 – 9.00 but that could be altered to suit the new membership. Each session starts with a physical and vocal warm-up and usually a simple 'round' or two. We then learn and practise a couple of songs (usually in 3 or 4 part harmony) for the rest of the evening with a short break.
d) Our repertoire reflects our values:
We sing songs for fun, laughter and the joy of singing; songs about (including but not exclusively) peace, equality, justice, human rights, environmentalism and internationalism and sometimes radical socialist songs.
In choosing our songs the quality of the lyrics, music and harmonies will be at least as important as any 'message'. We try to find the right balance between keeping people's enthusiasm and reflecting new issues by both practising new songs and giving time to learn and revise a 'core' repertoire. We try to choose our songs collectively and many are arrangements by our Choir Leader, who has the final choice on the repertoire.
This is not the primary focus of the choir nor is it a requirement of membership but, to help activist groups we support, each year we usually do a handful of 'singing out for ourselves and our friends' events (e.g. Clarion House, Blackstone Edge [with other choirs]), a couple of public 'sing-out' events (e.g. Menwith Hill, May Day) and one or two concert performances (e.g. Street Choirs Festival). We plan to offer these 'sing outs' to the groups from whom new choir members are recruited. Whilst we try to 'polish' our performance, we are not a choral society and acknowledge the value of our individual voices.
To assist this, the choir aims to learn and revise a small number of songs to a sing-out, public sing-out or concert standard, to create a 'core' performance repertoire for that year. We grow this repertoire over the years and aim to select a variety of songs for any one year's 'core' repertoire. For our concerts we aim to learn the words & music so that we can sing them without using songsheets or notation.