Power of Words – Summoning up the Absentees

For Holocaust Memorial Day 2018 the Artistic Director on behalf of Cambridge City Council, Helen Weinstein, of Historyworks commissioned me to set to music words by Michael Rosen for this year’s theme, ‘The Power of Words’, collaborating with the choirs led by Rowena Whitehead, ReSound, and the primary choir at Milton Road, led by Anna-Louise Lawrence, additionally inviting singers from Cambridge faith groups and community choirs to join us for the civic commemorative event to mark Holocaust Memorial Day, held at Cambridge Guildhall on Sunday 27th January, with speeches from survivors and poetry and drama pieces responding to genocide survivor testimony, performed by students from Cambridge primary and secondary schools.

Lyrics by Michael Rosen (commissioned by Historyworks)

Musical Arrangement by Kirsty Martin.

Click here to view a video.

O’Hooley & Tidow and Hullabaloo Quire

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.

Street Music Conference, Norwich

Kirsty was invited speaker at the Street Music Conference. This event explored an important but often neglected aspect of public culture and community construction: street music. The conference drew together new knowledge and practice generated by funded research projects across Connected Communities with work across a number of academic disciplines as well as the creative sector. Following Connected Communities established practice, the conference provided a place for dialogue between academics, independent researchers, musicians, performers, and the arts and cultural policy sectors.

Other speakers included –

Dr David Atkinson,  Honorary Research Fellow at the Elphinstone Institute Aberdeen, author of The Anglo-Scottish Ballad and its Imaginary Contexts (2014), and co-editor of Street Literature of the Long Nineteenth Century: Producers, Sellers, Consumers (2017)

Chester Bingley, Director, Keep Streets Live

Nick Broad, CEO and founder, Busk.co

Mark Denbigh, Head of Production & Programme, Norfolk & Norwich Festival 

Alex GibsonMusic and Creative Arts Regional Specialist (Bishop’s Stortford), Salvation Army

Prof Trevor HerbertEmeritus Professor in Music at the Open University, author of Music and the British Military in the Long Nineteenth Century (2013), and editor of The British Brass Band: a Musical and Social History (2000)

Kate Jones, Programme Director, Busk in London

Stefano Montes, Researcher in Culture and Society at the University of Palermo, convener of People and Cultures of the World (2019)

Marcus Patteson, Executive Director of Norca and Sistema, Co-founder of Norwich Samba

Mykaell Riley, Senior Lecturer at Westminster School of Arts, Programme Director of the Black Music Research Unit and Principal Investigator for Bass Culture Research

Veronica Stephens, Executive Director, Seachange Arts

Dr Lucy Wright, Research Fellow at University of Leeds in School of Performance and Cultural Industries, artistic-researcher.co.uk

Gina Arnold, Adjunct Professor,  University of San Francisco 

Andrew Green, School of Culture & Creative Arts, University of Glasgow

Samuel Horlor,  Music Department, Durham University

Jaime Rollins, author of Lullabies and Battle Cries: Music, Identity and Emotion among Republican Parading Bands in Northern Ireland.

Kelvin Mason, Campaign Choirs Initiative and Campaign Choirs Writing Collective, who have recently published Singing for Our Lives: stories from the street choirs   

Lotte Reimer, Campaign Choirs Initiative and Natural Voice Network

We Shall Stand for Love

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.

The Revolution Will be Harmonised, 2019 – Composer

I created this song collection for the far-flung choral community – and beyond! These songs explore several facets of revolutionary thought, as interpreted poetically and creatively, through archetypal themes; of equality, of ecology, of justice and respect, of personal reflective space and raw communal power.

Inspiration is an eclectic business and I have taken mine from a wealth of sources – from the more declamatory romanticism of Shelley and Blake to the raw uncompromising presence of the #SayHerName movement, via the unique creativity of contemporary poets Malcolm Guite and Dorothy Oger, Braggian anecdote, popularised demo chants, dystopian Gilead, C19 New England fervour, First Nation prophesy, and seminal Beat poetry!

These pieces, I hope, are versatile ‘songs of requirement’ that suit both workshops and performances. These songs are not ‘demo ready’ – they take time to weave together. As complete pieces, they are designed for communities who sing regularly together; and provide a hearty choral challenge for singers who are perhaps performance based.

The production of the songbook was part-funded by a grant from the Lipman-Milliband Trust.