In 2016 my choir Hullabaloo Quire and I had the pleasure of collaborating with folk duo O’Hooley & Tidow. We performed together at the Sallis Benney Theatre in Brighton. A sell-out show that featured collaborative performances of some of O’Hooley & Tidow’s best-loved songs including The Hum, Gentleman Jack, Beryl and Like Horses.
A singing workshop in Brussels hosted by Kirsty Martin and Dorothy Oger in celebration of love, hope and resilience, three years since the Brussels attacks.
Kirsty taught ‘Common Ground’. She says of the song, “this song is woven from three different, yet complementary, strands! (…) Shortly after Jo Cox died, I wrote a song based on her maiden Parliament speech that includes the now iconic phrase “We are far more united and have far more in common with each other than things that divide us.” (…) It wasn’t until I discovered the beautiful poem “For Love” and the force for positive change that is Dorothy Oger, that the original song came back to me reimagined. (…) Dorothy Oger wrote the poem as a response to her friend being killed in the terrorist attacks in Brussels on March 22nd 2016. (…) The third element of this song comes from Maori words and expressions meaning “to connect in meaningful ways”, “respect”, and “My friends! This is the essence of life!”.
Dorothy and Kirsty shared this beautiful song in the spirit of “having more in common”, of “standing for love” and in celebration of “connecting meaningfully” continuing to be expressed in many different ways.
Hear Dorothy Oger reading her poem I Shall Stand for Love here.
Text by Heathcote Williams, Narration by Roy Hutchins, Arrangement & Musical Direction Kirsty Martin featuring Hullabaloo Quire, Raise the Roof Community Choir and RISE Up Singing.
Poet Heathcote Williams created a beautiful work that explores the various forms in which songs come to us, and the inimitable power that they have. From the bell-like vibrations of the earth to Mothers singing to soothe their children, from protest songs to bird song; The Big Song is a glorious celebration of singing.
I was commissioned to compose a score that would weave through Heathcote’s words, a truly wonderful task to be gifted, and one that I could have done a hundred times over in a hundred different ways. The final composition features Kate Bush’s Sunset intertwined with cosmic rhythms, a pagan chant and a Japanese lullaby, Led Zepplin and much, much more!
I was invited to join the Poetry Army as its Choral Director, bringing in choirs from across the UK, including Sheffield Socialist Choir and Red Leicester Choir.
Written by Heathcote Williams Poetry Can F**k Off was a celebration of the power of poetry, the voice it can lend to people facing injustice and oppression. It highlighted the works of poets and orators from Emily Dickinson to Gil Scott-Heron, Gandi to Pussie Riot. My part in the celebrations was to direct the choirs who performed Leon Rosselson’s arrangement of James Oppenheim’s poem Bread and Roses.
Click here for a review of the Brighton performance.
See below for the Poetry Army Trailer.
Brighton Tubthumpers was invited to take part in a Poetry Army performance of a Heathcote Williams‘ poem. We sang Bread & Roses. this was the first performance for Brighton Tubthumpers and it was well received.
Here is a review from Michael Kemp – read to the bottom for his praise of the choir’s contribution.