Who are we?
Red Leicester Choir is an enthusiastic group of about 30 people with a passion for singing in unaccompanied four-part harmony. Originally a Workers’ Educational Association (WEA) evening class, Songs of Struggle and Celebration from Around the World, we became an independent choir in 1996. We aim to be open access, so we have no auditions. We are members of Musicians For Peace and Disarmament and the National Federation of Music Societies (Making Music). We join together with other members of the Campaign Choirs network to sing at demonstrations and political events.
When and where do we meet?
We rehearse on Wednesday evenings during school term time, from 7.30 to 9.30 at the Secular Hall, Humberstone Gate, Leicester (opposite Sainsbury’s). The hall we use is on the ground floor so if you come by bike, feel free to bring it in with you. The hall is fully accessible for wheelchair users, with a disabled toilet on the ground floor. There are regular bus services to Humberstone Gate and Charles Street, and on-street car parking is available nearby. After rehearsals, some of us go for a drink at The Ale Wagon on Charles Street, and everyone is welcome to come along.
What do we sing?
Red Leicester’s repertoire comes from all over the world and includes historical and contemporary songs expressive of social and political protest, and songs of worldwide celebration, struggle and change. Our influences include the peace movement, civil rights, women’s movement, gay rights, workers’ rights and environmental issues. We encourage creative talent in the choir; several of the members have penned witty and satirical lyrics to well-known tunes, with stirring harmonies provided by arrangements composed by our musical director, Jane Bursnall. We learn both by ear and with sheet music.
Where do we sing?
We perform locally and nationally in support of national and international causes. On the first Saturday in most months we busk in Market Street to raise money for various causes, including: Women’s Aid Leicestershire; Friends of Bethlehem; One Roof Leicester; We Shall Overcome; Disasters Emergency Committee; NHS campaigns; International Disaster Volunteers; Fox Radio; local food banks and many others.
Each year, in June/July, we perform at the national Street Choirs Festival which we hosted in Leicester in 2016 (more information here) and which will take place in Brighton in July 2018. Several choir members take an active part in running Leicester Sing for Water, which takes place during the Riverside Festival in June, raising over £30,000 for WaterAid.
How are we funded?
Members pay subscriptions to cover the costs of running the choir. These include the hire of rehearsal space, musical director fees, sheet music, insurance and membership of other organisations. Subscription rates on a sliding scale are £60 (waged), £35 (low waged) and £12 (unwaged), payable three times a year at the start of each term. It is also possible to pay half a term at a time. New members are charged £1 per week for three weeks while they decide if they want to join. We sometimes charge other organisations for our performances. Bookings can be arranged by contacting Veronica on 0116 2703143.
How are we organised?
Red Leicester Choir operates democratically, with a Management Committee, a Repertoire Group, and an Annual General Meeting. Meetings are open to all members and minutes are always available. We have a constitution, which is available on request.
How do I join Red Leicester?
Red Leicester welcomes new members who want to sing and who share our ethos. People thinking of joining the choir are welcome to come along to one of our regular rehearsals (see ‘When and where do we meet?’ above) at any time of the year (please remember that we only meet during school term times though!)
New/prospective members are always made very welcome. We will only ask you to pay £1 a week for your first three visits, while you decide if this is the right choir for you. We will help you to find the part (bass, tenor, alto or soprano) that suits you and to pick up some of the words and notes we are all learning. If you would like to speak to someone before coming along, you can call Veronica on 0116 2703143. Every year we have a special New Members Evening in September – this year it was on Wednesday 20th September in the Secular Hall, Humberstone Gate – but you can come along at any time.
If you think you would like to sing songs of struggle, protest and change and to meet like-minded people, then please come along and join in – it might just change your life!