Kendal Street Choirs Festival 2023 – About the choirs
04
Jun 2023

Author: David Burbidge

Here are descriptions of the 40 choirs coming to the Kendal Street Choirs Festival – you can hear them singing at different venues around Kendal on Saturday afternoon, July – scroll to the end to see the schedule and a map showing where all the venues are. There is also a concert on Saturday night 5-11pm in the Kendal Leisure Centre – see schedule below.

Bentham Voices

We meet every Wednesday in Bentham Quaker Meeting house in the Yorkshire Dales. We also sing with Lakeland Voices in the Lake District, and enjoy singing walks through the Yorkshire Dales where we live. We are led by David Burbidge and sing songs which support peace, community and internationalism. At this year’s Street Choirs Festival we will be helping as volunteers.

Bradford Voices

We are a mixed voice community choir with around 50 regular singers. 

We sing in Saltaire and have been singing & having fun together since 1996.

We sing because we love singing! We sing to express joy, sadness, celebration & solidarity.

We are led by Ana Hayrabedian, our energetic & passionate Musical Director who teaches us using Natural Voice methods. 

We believe that singing is everyone’s birth right, regardless of musical experience or ability. We should all have the right to sing. Singing is our gift & we welcome each unique voice to our choir.

This year we became listed locally, as a Social Prescribing Choir. We always have an open door & welcome everyone.

We enjoy singing at a variety of local community events throughout the year where we collect donations for our nominated charity. www.bradfordvoices.org.uk

Bury Acapeelers

Bury Acapeelers celebrated our 10 year anniversary in 2019 with a great weekend residential in Lytham St Anne’s. We are still going strong; though we have sadly lost some long-standing members, we have gained some lovely new ones.

We sing for our community, raising money for the local hospice and supporting other charities.

We enjoy a varied repertoire, and have a new original song for this occasion, from our in-house writing team of Sheila MacNulty, Cameron Anderson and our Musical Director, Eleanor Hill.

Caedmon choir (Gateshead)

Caedmon Choir celebrate their 30th birthday this year!  Our unusual name comes from the library room we used to rehearse in.  Caedmon has been described as ‘the first English poet’ and ‘the father of English song’.  He died in 680AD. We have around seventy members who vary widely in age, occupation and interests, but who are united by their enjoyment of singing together. We do not hold auditions and music-reading ability is not needed as we learn many of our songs by ear.

We sing unaccompanied, and our repertoire includes traditional and contemporary songs both local and from other parts of Britain. We also perform songs from other countries and cultures, and in a wide range of styles, including some that express a concern for people and the planet. Our musical director is Eleanor Mooney

Cairn  Chorus

Cairn Chorus is a community choir based in Moniaive in beautiful Dumfries and Galloway in South West Scotland. The choir was formed 12 years ago by a group of villagers who wanted to get together and sing and was led by Ali Burns for several years before being run by Kate Howard for the last 8 years. We have two terms one in winter and one in early spring with performances at the end of each. Each term will have a different theme and this term we are singing songs from the Chartist and Civil Rights movements across the world.  We have a core of professional musicians within the choir but our belief is that professional and amateur musicians stand shoulder to shoulder in choir and all voices are equal and valued. We also have a village band made up of classical and folk musicians with fiddle, concertina, clarinet, Clarsach, viola and recorders. We frequently collaborate with other musicians such as Scottish Ensemble and groups like Lady Maisery, Jen Hill and Kate Young as part of the Songs of Separation. We are currently seeking funding to establish a Song Cycle of newly composed songs that celebrate our relationship to the wild land here and the fragility of our climate.

Calder Valley Voices (Hebden Bridge)

We are a friendly, not-for-profit community choir. Everyone is welcome. 
We meet once a week for the love of singing great songs together. We learn, practise and perform songs from the world-wide community singing tradition, including songs of peace, freedom, struggle and liberation. Our musical director is the wonderful Danni Rivett. 

Côr Gobaith (Aberystwyth)

The choir’s name means “Choir of hope.”  “We are based in Aberystwyth, and sing songs of peace, justice and sustainability in Welsh, English and several other languages. The choir is open to all who share our ideals. We sing in the street in Aberystwyth once a month and collect, usually for Medecins Sans Frontieres. We also take part in demonstrations and were in great voice with the other Campaign Choirs at Manchester outside the Tory party conference. In 2016 we celebrated 10 years since the start of our beloved choir.”

Corista

We are a small group of singers from the upper Calder valley in England and we met through Calder Valley Voices, a community choir based in Hebden Bridge.

We love to sing and perform shape note pieces, contemporary songs with a political edge, and folk songs in various languages.  We are always looking out for open mic opportunities, and recently performed in the Hebden Bridge Folk Roots Festival.

East Lancs Clarion Choir (Burnley) 

East Lancs Clarion Choir comes from a socialist tradition, singing current and historical political songs as well as folk songs, protest songs and songs for peace freedom and justice.

After the pandemic the choir ran a publicity campaign, interviewed for a new musical director, and hosted a workshop, to support its sustainability. We have some new members and are now led by Eleanor Hill.

We sing annually at Burnley May Parade, Nelson Clarion House and outside the US eavesdropping base at Menwith Hill on July 4th. We support local community events and local campaign groups such as the Pendle – Palestine Twinning Group.

Fellside Singers (Kendal)

Fellside Singers are a 30-strong acappella choir, who sing world songs which cover all emotions: one minute, you’ll be smiling; the next, shedding a tear.

Ferry Blend (Edinburgh)

Ferry Blend is a local community choir based in South Queensferry. We sing for enjoyment, for the challenge of learning new skills and to share a real variety of good music with our audiences. We sing concerts locally, go carol singing, visit pensioners’ clubs and participate in wider events such as the Fife Festival of Music.

Free Range (Leeds)

Free Range is 16 years old – its aspirations include inclusivity, diversity and joy. It is led by Frances Bernstein, who also writes and arranges many of their songs. Things their members says: “Committed and supportive group,” “Good rapport, friendly people, cohesive,” “Right level of challenge,” “Interesting and diverse performance opportunities,” and “Ambitious about singing and performing well.”

Growing Singers (Kendal)

The Growing Singers is a new fundraising, community-building choir in Kendal set up earlier this year by Rachael Wadey and Clare Elleray specifically to raise funds for a local mental health charity, Growing Well, as well as having a gloriously fun time singing our heads off. 

Heaton Voices

Heaton Voices is a Community Choir based in Heaton in Newcastle Upon Tyne who have been enjoying singing and performing together for 23 years.

The Honest Singers (Musselburgh)

We are an open and welcoming community of singers based in Musselburgh, and we love learning, singing and performing songs together. Our numbers fluctuate but we have a core of around a dozen people.

Our name comes from the fact that Musselburgh is known as ‘The Honest Toun’, and we sing regularly for all the reasons above. Our songs are a mix of traditional and new, some composed or arranged by our own members. We enjoy busking twice a year, usually in Edinburgh city centre, to raise money for charitable causes, and we love being part of the Street Choirs Festival.

Ilkley Moor Notes

Ilkley Moornotes is a Community Choir based in Ilkley, West Yorkshire.  We sing from a wide repertoire, mostly for our own pleasure, but look forward to our performances in a variety of wonderful locations, including the historic Fountains Abbey. In April we enjoyed a fabulous evening of singing with a choir from our twin town of Coutances, in Normandy.  There was a full house for our joint concert at All Saints Church and we are again looking forward to singing for friends and family in the grounds of Ilkley Manor House in the summer.  Our talented Musical Director is Kate Stevens whose energy knows no bounds and who has been leading us now for almost 6 years. .

Kadenza (Bolton)

Kadenza women’s choir is now in our 19th year led by Moira Hill. We try to reach out to women of all ages and backgrounds in our membership and for our performances at community events. The choir is based in Horwich, near Bolton but our members are both local and from as far afield as North Manchester and Darwen. We believe that singing is our right, is fun and good for us and is a positive force for change both in our personal lives and in the wider community and this is reflected in our songs.

Lakeland Voices (Kendal)

We are celebrating our 30th anniversary. Our choir grew from a Natural Voice evening class at the Kendal Brewery Arts Centre – Discover Your Voice – started by David Burbidge in 1993 for those “who would like to sing but believe they can’t.”

We are now an easy-going acappella, community choir open for all, and at the beginning of June returned from a tour of Slovenia where we sang in Slovenian and English alongside several choirs, including singers from David’s twin town, Zreče – and at the Bohinj Wild Flower Festival, in the Waldorf School in Ljubljana, and on walks, wild swims and boating trips across Bled and Bohinj. 

We sing songs from other countries too, as well as many walking and drinking songs – and in the summer months take our songs out onto the Lake District fells where we sing by lakes and waterfalls, in woods and caverns….and round the fires of country pubs.

Alongside singers from Bentham Voices and the Rivington Rebels we will be acting as volunteers at this year’s festival to help things run smoothly.  

We especially enjoy meeting and singing with other choirs and singers – often with our local sister Natural Voice choirs, Bentham Voices and the Singing Cyclists (many of whom are volunteers for this festival) – and extend a warm hand of welcome and camaraderie to all of you who are visiting from other parts of the UK and beyond. www.lakelandvoice.co.uk

Leeds People’s Choir

Leeds People’s Choir is a social justice choir – we sing to support causes and campaigns we believe in and to promote equality, justice and community. Led by our inspirational MD Jenny Goodman, we are a friendly bunch who sing songs of joy, liberation, struggle, celebration and peace from around the world. In 2019, to celebrate our 30th anniversary, LPC started on a project (funded by Leeds Inspired) to create new songs about hitherto unsung Leeds people, working with composer Fran Wyburn, who put our words to music. Last year at Whitby Street Choir we sang the first of these, Women of Leeds, and we are now working on our second song, celebrating the historic Middleton railway.

Liverpool Socialist Singers

Liverpool Socialist Singers formed in 2010 and have been supporting socialist campaigns ever since.

We are a non-party political group who share socialist ideals.  We stand with those who call for peace and social justice, promote racial equality, fight to protect the environment and support the rights of workers. Music has been used for centuries both to tell stories and to unite people in the struggle against oppression in all its forms. We are part of that tradition and sing at picket lines, demonstrations, political rallies, campaign events and street festivals. We sing a wide variety of songs including classics such as ‘This Land is Your Land’, ‘The Internationale’ and ‘Bread and Roses’.  We also write original songs in response to current social and political struggles, for example ‘Cammell Laird Celebration‘ and ‘Zero Hours’.    Sometimes we surprise listeners by using new lyrics for well known tunes, such as ‘Tory Boys’ Picnic’ or  ‘We Won’t Be Fracking Long!’

Manchester Community Choir

Led by experienced singer and musical director, Rose Hodgson, the choir sings songs that are warming and moving, joyful and funky from different musical traditions, all in beautiful, unaccompanied four-part harmony.  

The choir sings for pleasure, wellbeing and friendship, is non-political and non-religious and enjoys supporting good causes. It doesn’t audition and is always open to new members. More information can be found on its website: https://manchestercommunitychoir.org.uk

North London Collective

“The north London collective is a combination of the Parklife Singers in Queens Park and the Islington community choir. Both run by Ryan O’Riordan, these groups do a lot of fund raising and campaigning for local causes. The Parklife Singers are closely linked to Laurence’s Larder and the Islington community choir raise for the Islington centre for refugees and migrants. Both groups are incredibly playful and joyous, and make a raucous sound together”

Nottingham Clarion Choir

We have been a socialist choir since 1988 – when we sang with other artists producing the LP ‘English Rebels.’  We have performed on May Days, historical commemorations; Tolpuddle, Burford Levellers Day, the Pentrich uprising in Derbyshire.  We’ve enjoyed being part of marches for the NHS,  against education cuts etc. against the Iraq war and all other wars to exploit countries across the world!  We have travelled to Cuba, Germany and Sweden singing with other like-minded choirs.  We continue to grow in numbers (though not all can come to the SCF).  

Open Voice choir (Manchester)

We are 50 strong (and growing again) a community choir based  in Whalley Range, Manchester for over 15 years now. We sing many songs of social justice from around the world, as well as songs that are just beautiful and uplifting to sing! We perform to support  local community events and at political and peace events and  benefit gigs,  including Amnesty International and Kimbilio  (supports street children in the Congo). We love to work collaboratively! So far we’ve worked on theatre projects, with bands,with XR & Red Rebels, on the ‘Opal’s Comet’ canal  project in Manchester  and currently with ‘Refuge from the Ravens’ – a project giving voice to homeless and marginalised folk. 

Pales Peace Choir 

Pales Peace Choir is a small acapella choir based at the beautiful Pales Quaker Meeting House (www.thepales.org) in Llandegley, near Llandrindod Wells, Powys. Singers come from far and wide to sing in the beautiful surroundings. The choir began in 2009, following a benefit concert for peace work in Nagaland, at which Côr Gobaith performed. The peace work was being undertaken by Lynda and Martin Williams, the wardens of the Pales at that time, and they were the inspiration behind the founding of the Peace Choir.

Pales Peace choir meet three monthly to sing about peace, social justice and the climate crisis. They regularly attend Street Choirs Festival and Sing For Water, as well as many local events in Powys, including the unveiling of a Peace pole in the grounds of the Pales.

Singing with the Pales Peace choir this year are some members of LERI VOICES, a new small acapella community choir based in Talybont, Ceredigion, which started after the Covid lockdown. They sing similar songs to Pales Peace Choir and are delighted to be collaborating with them this year. Both choirs are led by Susie Ennals. For more information, please contact susie@ennals.org.uk.

Preston People’s Choir

Preston People’s Choir was born in August 2011 and from its humble beginnings with just a few choristers in a local pub, it has become a lively and welcoming community choir based in the University of Central Lancashire. Members represent all sorts of backgrounds, ages, nationalities and genders, and love to sing together just for the joy of it.

As a Natural Voice Choir, we celebrate the voice we are born with and no audition or ability to read music is necessary.

We sing songs from all over the world, often at community events and try to spread a message of peace, justice, hope and inclusivity, as well as celebrating Preston’s rich history.

Raised Voices (North London)

We are a political choir, since 1986, that meets near Kings Cross in Central London. We are a welcoming group of 20-25 people who sing together and share responsibility and decision-making in a collective way. We sing a wide variety of left, social justice, environmental, climate, feminist, anti-racist, and anti-war songs. We perform at political and cultural events, and sometimes busk on the streets for an agreed cause. We also sing at many demonstrations, distributing a song sheet and encouraging others to sing along with us.  

Red Leicester

We are an enthusiastic group of about 35 singers drawn together by our love of four-part harmony and our socialist ideals. No auditions necessary! We rehearse weekly at Leicester Secular Hall, home of the world’s oldest secular society. We sing throughout the year at community and political events, and to raise money for various causes including CND, WaterAid, Leicester City of Sanctuary and Women’s Aid. Our repertoire includes historical and contemporary songs of social and political protest from around the world, as well as songs of celebration, freedom, justice and peace. Many of our songs are arranged by musical director Jane Bursnall. https://redleicesterchoir.com/

Rivington Rebels (Rivington, near Bolton)

We are the Rivington Rebels, there’s usually around 12 of us. Rivington is a beautiful corner of Lancashire on the edge of the West Pennine moors and our members come from surrounding towns including Chorley, Horwich and Bolton. Our numbers are fairly fluid as we’re all members of other local choirs. We tend to get together informally for fun, adventure and the joy of singing as and when people can make it. We don’t have a designated leader, so it’s a real team effort deciding what we sing (and how we sing it), we’ll have a go at most songs, from folk to pop and we try and raise money for charity along the way.

Sea Green Singers

Sea Green Singers are a campaign choir based in Oxford who sing songs about peace, freedom and the environment. No auditions, everyone welcome.

We take our inspiration from the Levellers who believed in equality and democracy. They were part of Cromwell’s New Model Army and wore Sea Green ribbons. Every year we sing at Levellers Day in Burford in May commemorating the execution of three Levellers shot for refusing to follow an order they disagreed with. See the video of this year’s Levellers Day here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9zIQHBIICsg.

This year we have also sung with the strike pickets outside both Universities in Oxford and will be singing at Ascott under Wychwood to remember the 16 women Ascott Women Martyrs. We have sung fundraising concerts for Asylum Welcome and Refugee Resource.

Settle Voices 

Settle Voices is the local Community Choir in the market town of Settle in the Yorkshire Dales. Our Musical Director, Janet Russell, is a member of the Natural Voice Practitioners’ Network, and recognises the right and ability of everyone to sing. Thanks to her skilful and enthusiastic teaching we have a wide repertoire of songs which is constantly growing. We often sing seasonal songs, and living in such a beautiful area, we enjoy singing about local history and landscape. We also learn songs from much further afield, for example from Africa and New Zealand. Some are sung in rounds, others in four-part harmony.  There are no auditions and new tunes are learnt by ear so you don’t have to be able to read music, although it is available for most songs.  As a community choir we enjoy singing in various local venues throughout the year and are due to celebrate our twentieth anniversary this summer.

Sheffield Socialist choir

Sheffield Socialist Choir, established over thirty years ago, sings songs about justice, environmental issues, human rights and peace across the world. We sing in support of campaigns in harmony with our vision for a fairer, sustainable world, at demonstrations, political events, concerts and on the streets. Anyone who is enthusiastic about singing for change is welcome to join us. We are led by Janet Wood.

Silsden Singers (from near Skipton)

We are led by Janet Russell, a Natural Voice Practitioner, who has enthused us very successfully for over twenty five years. We firmly believe that everyone should have the opportunity to discover the joy of singing, especially in a group. We actively encourage new members to join our very supportive choir that guarantees a warm welcome and a fun and friendly atmosphere regardless of musical experience or ability, which is why we don’t hold auditions.Scottish Janet Russell is extremely well known on the Folk music scene. Silsden Singers delight in benefitting from her knowledge of British, local and World folk traditions. Now and then we try some jazz, pop and comedy songs.We are always keen to support local or regional events such as The Tour de Yorkshire, Silsden Duck Race and The Santa Special train as it passes through Keighley. Our songs are always chosen to compliment each event.Our home is at The Hive Community Centre in Silsden (BD20 0DE). We sing on Tuesday evenings from 7 – 8.30pm. Do come and visit us!

Sound Women (Penarth, South Wales)

This year marks our 30th year singing together. Based in the lovely ‘seaside’ town of Penarth in South Wales and led by Tracey Gummow, we sing acappella from around the world. Our repertoire includes songs from South Africa, Georgia and the USA, along with a smattering of pop classics, jazz, folk and madrigals. A real smorgasbord. 

We are a non-audition choir and perform mainly for fundraisers and local events. What has kept us together for 30 years? … the transformative power of song on us as individuals, as a group and outwards to our community. 

South Lakes Acapella

The choir’s the choir’s “Chef of Music,” Jeff Borradaile says: “Much love and appreciation to all our choir friends coming to Kendal. We are South Lakes Acappella from Windermere. Formed in February 2022, we sing a heady mix of Acappella  music and welcome all singing fans to join our non-audition choir. We rehearse on Mondays at 7pm and Thursdays 1.30pm at the stunningly beautiful Carver Church, Lake Road, Windermere and have a busy list of concerts and appearances in 2023 and are excited to be singing in our first Street Choir Festival.”

Tadhamon Singers

Tadhamon Singers were formed in 2018. We are a group of women from Sheffield who sing in solidarity with the Palestinian struggle. In 2022 we toured the West Bank and Nazareth, singing in refugee camps, cultural centres, streets and cafes, singing with Palestinians and making lasting connections. 

As we travelled, Palestinians kept asking us one thing: “Please share our story.”

We now do this through performances, song workshops, small events, online talks and sharing our blog from the trip. We are committed to continue supporting the struggle for justice and equality for Palestine by engaging in activism in the UK against the injustices of the Israeli Apartheid regime.

We are led by Janet Wood.

Three Valleys Gospel Choir (Todmorden)

Three Valleys Gospel Choir is based in Todmorden and provides inclusive, welcoming and accessible singing opportunities for people of all ability and beliefs in the local community. We are led by the wonderful Marie Claire Breen who inspires us all to sing to the best of our ability whilst ensuring our sessions are always fun. We promote good community spirit and wellbeing through the enjoyment of singing gospel, world music and other similar genre songs.

We firmly believe that everyone can sing and that singing should be fun! Musical experience is not necessary and we don’t audition. Membership is open to anyone over the age of 16 and children from the age of 11 can join us if they are accompanied by an adult. We know from experience that coming together to sing songs we enjoy is good for our mental health and we hope to spread joy to those who hear us sing.

We are proud to have members from all walks of life, of all ages (from 12 to 70 something!), LGBTQ+ members and members with physical and learning disabilities.

We feel blessed that we inspire so many people to sing and we aim to be a blessing to others. We support and encourage each other to be as good as we can be as singers, while firmly holding on to our core beliefs that everyone can sing and that it should be fun!

Tynedale choir (Hexham)

We are a non-auditioned choir of around 70 members based in Hexham, Northumberland. We meet weekly under the direction of Kathryn Davidson and have a varied repertoire which includes folk, pop and gospel – and whatever else Kathryn fancies bringing – so this year we’ve looked at a piece of Elgar!

When we perform, the performances tend to be based in and for our local community. We enjoy socialising – from our annual May Day dawn sing on Sele Park followed by a hearty communal breakfast, to wassailing in the orchard of Aydon Castle to summer picnics on the banks of the river Allen.


Whitby Community Choir 

Whitby Community Choir was formed in 2004 by a small group of people who gathered together to sing simply for the love of it – no leader, no auditions and certainly with no intention of performing.  

However the love of singing soon led to sharing their singing with others in the community, and at local, regional and eventually national events. We have hosted the National Street Choirs Festival in Whitby four times – and we are so excited to be returning to Kendal once more

We love taking part in the Street Choirs Festival – it’s  a wonderful opportunity to enjoy the singing of choirs from around the nation.  We are a non-auditioned, inclusive acappella choir, with around 30 members, meeting every week all year round on Wednesday evenings in the Flowergate Hall Community Arts Centre and we perform far and wide under the dynamic leadership of Rebecca Denniff.  

BUSKING VENUES, SCHEDULE and MAP – SATURDAY AFTERNOON JULY 1 2023

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