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For the People Hear Us Singing

Posted by Loz Kaye on 03 October 2018

“For the People Hear Us Singing”
Lancashire Encounters Choir – Loz Kaye

A group is gathered in vivid shades of red on the steps of Preston’s iconic Harris Museum. Voices ring out: “For the people hear us singing- bread and roses, bread and roses!”

I’ve just completed my first big project for More Music, a new work for the Lancashire Encounters Festival. The aim was to bring groups from across the county together for a singing project to reflect the region’s heritage and diverse communities. We did that with the participants alone – the energetic young people from Artz Centre in Skelmersdale, the refugee and asylum seekers group in Blackburn, the wonderful Lancashire Youth Vocal Ensemble, members of choirs we run far and wide.

This involved much intensive zooming about Lancashire running sessions, a great chance to hear the variety of singing projects that are going on. It’s easy to get the impression that singing has been outsourced to the likes of The XFactor. In fact, voices are ringing out in many types of spaces near you, from Garstang Library to the Gujerati Hindu Temple in Preston.

The effect of bringing these different types of voices together I found moving and interesting sound wise. Real energy and enthusiasm came across in the rather imposing arena of the Harris Museum square.

The aim of the piece was to celebrate what nourishes us both literally and metaphorically. The starting point was the rousing union song ‘Bread and Roses’. This seemed to me to fit Preston’s profile as a city that continues to lead the way in development that is people centred. And it also had the added advantage of that the rose is Lancashire’s symbol. So I developed that idea in to a song exploring the image of the “red red rose”.

Throughout I wove in recorded voices reflecting Lancashire’s heritage, some drawn from the now sadly defunct North West Sound Archives. These interviews from the past reflecting on bread and baking hung in the air linking the past to present. The point being is that we need bread to nourish the body, but we need beauty – the roses of this life – to nourish who we are both as individuals and shared communities.

As the song goes:

“Yes it is bread that we fight for,
But we fight for roses too!”

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