In 2013 in Aberystwyth the Street Choirs Festival celebrates its 31st birthday. First held in Sheffield in 1983 as the ‘National Street Band Festival’, it brought together musicians whose main thrust was playing in the signature marches and protests of a turbulent political decade – Thatcherism, the miners' strike, the Falklands war... The intention of the street bands was to put the music into protest, making it creative, fun, engaging and thought-provoking. Through music and song, the overarching aim, then as now, is to promote a world free of oppression, exploitation, exclusion and violence. The scale of this ambition is matched by the enthusiasm and commitment of the street and community choirs who have participated in the Festival over the last three decades. With its roots in the North of England, the Festival has blossomed across the UK, most recently being held in Manchester in 2007, moving south to Brighton in 2008, east to Whitby in both 2009 and 2011, ‘home’ to Sheffield in 2010, to Bury in 2012, and now almost as far West as it is possible to get, to Aberystwyth on the coast of Wales.
Since its inception the Festival has expanded to welcome community choirs who sing together for a variety of reasons, not least the sheer love of singing! The collective musical repertoire now includes world music, folk, pop, rap, soul, gospel... You name it. The range of issues which Festival choirs now focus on transcends traditional politics, with anarchist choirs, women’s choirs, LGBTQ choirs, choirs of women asylum seekers, choirs singing to raise awareness of human rights... And, of course, the tradition of political song is alive and kicking, with new compositions from Festival participants becoming protest ‘standards’ in an era of failing free-market economics and imposed ‘austerity’ which hits the most vulnerable hardest. In 2012, the Rise Up Singing initiative brought together many choir voices at an anti-cuts march in London and against nuclear weapons at Faslane naval base in Scotland.
Our Street Choirs Festival creates vital personal and collective connections between all these choirs, united by the potential of music to change the world one raised voice or cocked ear at a time. Together we bring street and community singing to towns and cities throughout Britain. Maybe one day we’ll even raise our voices together with others internationally? Our hope is to encourage people not only to listen, but to join us - to unite the world in song!
For more information please visit http://www.streetchoir2013.org.uk/