Photos: Jolade Olusanya
Projects: Singing Our Lives
Musical Director: Jeremy Haneman
Creative Producer: Holly Jones
A new collaborative dialogue and composition process resulting in an outstanding new choral song series, a resource for schools and a sell-out gala performance at Milton Court in the Barbican.
"That was such a powerful and moving experience, I'll remember it for a long, long time.
Everything about it resonated with me – the collaboration, the 'real' people not professionals, singing their hearts out full of character….and musically very strong"
- Audience member, Singing Our Lives gala concert
The Singing Our Lives project commissioned composer Mike Roberts and librettist Sarah Grange to work with members of the Mixed Up Chorus and clients from Freedom from Torture, Rhyl Primary School and the Islington Refugee Centre. Over several months the groups participated in music and writing workshops, sharing memories, music, stories, life experiences and creating new words and melodies. From the mass of material created the composer and librettist worked to shape three new songs that captured the essence of the spirit and stories of the project. The songs were premiered by the Mixed Up Chorus at Milton Court in July 2017 at a gala event hosted by Jumoké Fashola, with guest performances by the Royal Opera House Thurrock Community Chorus, Sing for Freedom Choir, Boy Blue Entertainment, parents and students of Rhyl Primary school and comedian Humza Arshad.
Bringing together partners 3FF, the Migration Museum, the International Organisation for Migration, Camden Music, the Guildhall School of Electronic Music, the Royal Opera House and Voluntary Action Camden, the project also resulted in a resource for schools designed to help teachers offer their students the opportunity to explore, connect with and better understand the lives of refugees and migrants through music.
"It's hard to distill into three short songs the depth and breadth of experiences that were shared, or the vibrancy, kindness and humor of the 100-odd people who filled the room across the project. What struck me most was the collective care of those present - whether economic migrants, asylum-seekers, the home-grown or the historically displaced - for each other's stories, and the almost-tangible sense of hope we all shared. Care and hope. That's what I think of when I hear our songs."
- Sarah Grange, librettist, Singing Our Lives
"It's been a real honour to work as the composer for this visionary project and I've been deeply
moved by the many diverse life experiences shared
through the music and writing workshops. The
power of music to 'bring together' and underline our shared humanity has been so evident in the process and I'm so pleased that the songs have emerged through genuine collaboration to almost write themselves – something I had always hoped would happen. Now more than ever we need to come together in unity, breaking down the imaginary walls of fear that, at times, divide our society. Music, as an expression of the soul, has a unique role to play in this endeavour and it is my hope that these songs will have a life long beyond the project as a resource for intercultural unity."
- Mike Roberts, Composer, Singing Our Lives
Singing Our Lives featured on Radio 4’s World Tonight: