More posts to come on the fabulous get together of revolutionary choirs that was held near Royère-de-Vassivière last week, but for now here are a few photos. To be honest, we were so busy learning songs, singing, preparing meals, and talking with members of choirs from France, Italy, Belgium and Britain that there wasn't much time for taking pictures!
(who is that comrade singing with the basses? No, it can't be, can it?)
On Wednesday, two of our intrepid researchers will make their way overland to France to join Strawberry Thieves and members of Cor Gobaith, Raised Voices and perhaps other British street choirs at the Rencontres de chorales révolutionnaires 2017 (the meeting of revolutionary choirs). The gathering takes place near Royère-de-Vassivière in Nouvelle-Aquitaine (east of Limoges). It should be an amazing experience that yields some great stories as we join radical choirs from France and Italy for a week of singing old songs and new. (see you in a couple of weeks!)
Some photos of the choirs meeting last year, including the combined international choir signing in Tarnac (home of the Invisible Committee)
Thrillingly, our project now features on the blog of our publisher, Hammer-on Press! Thrilling but a bit scary too because now we get to re-read the more then 40 interviews we've carried out with street choir members across Britain and select excerpts to go into the book, Singing For Our Lives. Reading the interviews is a great job to have but choosing which bits of the collective story to leave out will be really difficult: we want to do justice to everybody's story; and everybody we spoke with had something special to say.
Here's a an excerpt from an interview with Jane Scott, conductor of Birmingham Clarion Singers that reveals something of the long and unique history of this street choir:
"We did a concert tour in the German Democratic Republic in 1977, so there was that kind of international thing. Going back to the fifties, well to the end of the forties actually, we have performed with Paul Robeson in Birmingham town hall, we did a piece by Earl Robinson called The Ballad for Americans. I think he was friends with quite a number of people on the left in Birmingham, particularly one chap Ruscoe Clarke, I think an American, whose wife Avis Clarke was in the choir… Anyway when he (Robeson) went back and lost his passport we campaigned, we did a lot of campaigning, on that. And when his passport was returned and he came over it was, coincidentally, just at that time that Colin Bradsworth died… So, we asked Paul Robeson to be our president, which he was gracious enough to do. So, he was our president then from, was it nineteen fifty-nine (or) sixty, till he died in, was it, seventy-six… That was quite exciting, (we) performed with him a couple of times…"
Although almost everybody probably knows it, I only just discovered this, essentially, animal rights song! A little confusingly, it's also know as 'Donna, Donna' (and originally 'Dana, Dana', it seems). Joan Baez sings the most famous version, but it's a song with quite a history. If you haven't heard 'Dona, Dona', listen, learn and enjoy like me.