Street Choirs Festival
Street Choirs Festival is an annual event in which choirs in the UK meet and sing together. The festival is organised by volunteers and is hosted in a different location each year. The participating choirs learn a set of songs to sing together in an outdoor 'massed sing', followed by each choir busking at a variety of locations in the host town or city, usually outdoors. Most of the choirs sing a capella and many of the choirs sing political and campaign songs and songs of peace. In 2019, the festival gathered almost 1,100 singers in Manchester.
The festival began in the 1984 as the National Street Band Festival, featuring music groups as well as choirs. The festival was renamed to the National Street Music Festival in 1991. In 1997, the event became choirs only, and in 2006, changed its name to the National Street Choirs Festival. To reflect the UK-wide nature of the festival, the name was changed to Street Choirs Festival in 2013. The 2013 festival also saw the birth of the Campaign Choirs Network, a group of choirs with a shared interest in political and social campaigning. A book, Singing for our Lives: Stories from the Street Choirs has been produced by a writing collective and contains stories about the festival and interviews with attendees about their motivations for and experiences of attending the festival and singing in their choir.
The festival typically runs over a weekend from Friday night to Sunday afternoon. The Friday night concert features invited musicians. Guest performers at the festival have included O'Hooley and Tidow (2015), Coope Boyes and Simpson (2017) and Barnstormer 1649 featuring Atilla the Stockbroker (2018). On Saturday morning, participating choirs rehearse together a set of 'massed sing' songs before performing the massed songs together as a massed choir, usually in a prominent outdoor location in the host town or city. The massed sing in Sheffield was on the steps of Sheffield City Hall, Brighton 2018 was on the seafront and Manchester 2020 was in Cathedral Gardens.
Busking forms an important feature of the festival. The participating choirs sing at designated locations in the host town or city on Saturday afternoon. A variety of workshops run on the Sunday morning, followed by a farewell picnic. It is a tradition to sing Billy Bragg's version of The Internationale either at the massed sing or at the farewell picnic.
|Year||Host City or Town||Host Choir||Name of the Festival|
|1984||Sheffield||National Street Band Festival|
|1985 (May)||Newcastle||National Street Band Festival|
|1985 (November)||Manchester||National Street Band Festival|
|1986||Bradford||National Street Band Festival|
|1987||Bristol||National Street Band Festival|
|1988||Liverpool||National Street Band Festival|
|1989||Leicester||National Street Band Festival|
|1990||Newcastle||National Street Band Festival|
|1991||London, Hackney||Big Red Band and Raised Voices||National Street Music Festival|
|1992||Sheffield||Sheffield Socialist Choir||National Street Music Festival|
|1993||Cardiff||Côr Cochion||National Street Music Festival|
|1994||Leeds||Leeds People's Choir||National Street Music Festival|
|1995||Stroud||National Street Music Festival|
|1996||Nottingham||Nottingham Clarion Choir||National Street Music Festival|
|1997||Morecambe||National Street Music Festival|
|1998||Leicester||Red Leicester||National Street Music Festival|
|1999||Bradford||National Street Music Festival|
|2000||Manchester||National Street Music Festival|
|2001||Nottingham||Nottingham Clarion Choir||National Street Music Festival|
|2002||Hebden Bridge||Calder Valley Voices||National Street Music Festival|
|2003||Belper||The Rough Truffles||National Street Music Festival|
|2004||Leeds||Leeds People's Choir||National Street Music Festival|
|2005||Saltaire/Shipley||Bradford Voices||National Street Music Festival|
|2006||Gateshead||Caedmon Choir and Heaton Voices||National Street Choirs Festival|
|2007||Manchester||Manchester Community Choir||National Street Choirs Festival|
|2008||Brighton||Hullabaloo Community Quire||National Street Choirs Festival|
|2009||Whitby||Whitby Community Choir||National Street Choirs Festival|
|2010||Sheffield||Out Aloud||National Street Choirs Festival|
|2011||Whitby||Whitby Community Choir||National Street Choirs Festival|
|2012||Bury||Bury Acapeelers Community Choir||National Street Choirs Festival|
|2013||Aberystwyth||Côr Gobaith||Street Choirs Festival|
|2014||Hebden Bridge||Calder Valley Voices||Street Choirs Festival|
|2015||Whitby||Whitby Community Choir||National Street Choirs Festival|
|2016||Leicester||Red Leicester||Street Choirs Festival|
|2017||Kendal||Lakeland Voices||Street Choirs Festival|
|2018||Brighton||Hullabaloo Community Quire||Street Choirs Festival|
|2019||Manchester||Manchester Community Choir||Street Choirs Festival|
|2020||Pocklington (Cancelled)||Cancelled||Street Choirs Festival|
- CAMPAIGN CHOIRS WRITING COLLECTIVE. (2018). SINGING FOR OUR LIVES: stories from the street choirs. Bristol: HAMMERON Press. ISBN 978-1910849101. OCLC 1030599556.
- Bithell, Caroline, 1957- (2014). A different voice, a different song : reclaiming community through the natural voice and world song. Oxford. ISBN 9780199354566. OCLC 882915163.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
- The Routledge companion to the study of local musicking. Reily, Suzel Ana, 1955-, Brucher, Katherine. New York. 2018-03-14. ISBN 9781317417880. OCLC 1029252418.CS1 maint: others (link)
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- "SINGING FOR OUR LIVES". SINGING FOR OUR LIVES. Archived from the original on 2020-01-24. Retrieved 2020-01-29.
- "Street Choirs Festival 2018". Brighton Dome. Retrieved 2020-01-29.
- "Streets in song as region's musical heritage celebrated". www.yorkshirepost.co.uk. Retrieved 2020-01-29.
- The Street Choirs Festival 2018 Mass Sing in Brighton with Caroline Lucas speaking, retrieved 2020-01-29
- King, Ray (2019-07-09). "A choir of a thousand voices will perform in Cathedral Gardens this weekend - I Love Manchester". I Love MCR®. Retrieved 2020-01-29.
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- Massed Sing - The Internationale - Street Choirs Festival 2016, retrieved 2020-01-29
- "Street music festival confirmed". BBC News. Retrieved 2019-09-30.
- "Town's on song for street music event". Telegraph and Argus. Archived from the original on 2019-10-01. Retrieved 2019-10-01.
- "Street choir bury 2012". street choir bury 2012. Archived from the original on 2019-07-15. Retrieved 2020-01-29.
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