Red Leicester Choir

Red Leicester is Leicester’s socialist choir singing songs expressive of social and political protest, and songs of worldwide celebration, struggle and change. To find out more about us, including when and where we meet and how to join us, please click here.

To read more news about what we are up to and recent events in which we have been involved, just scroll through the stories and pictures below.

News and Events

On Wednesday 11th September, Red Leicester sang the Internationale for a film being made by Ady Pole, a University of Leicester History student. The subjects of the film are Roy Watts and Fred Sykes, two Leicester men who fought and died with the International Brigade in the Spanish Civil War 1936-39. Ady’s film is a contribution to the Journey to Justice Exhibition which will be held in Leicester next month. As you can see below, the choir was happy to oblige with their customary enthusiasm!

Red Leicester raised £100 for the Red Cross Hurricane Dorian Bahamas Appeal at their regular busk in Market Street on Saturday 7th September. Many thanks to those good Leicester people who stopped to listen and contribute!

Red Leicester are back rehearsing again after the summer break in the Secular Hall on Humberstone Gate (opposite Sainsburys). If you fancy the idea of singing with a socialist choir and making your voice heard on the streets (and, let’s face it, there’s a lot to sing about at the moment!), why not come along to one of our weekly rehearsals (every Wednesday at 7.30 pm in the Secular Hall) and try us out?

The annual Street Choirs Festival in Manchester from 12th to 14th July saw Red Leicester performing to a different audience over the weekend. The choir busked at three very different locations around Manchester city centre and also participated in the Massed Sing in Cathedral Gardens with nearly 1000 other singers from across the UK. Below are a few pictures from the event.

The Massed Sing in Cathedral Gardens
Massed Sing SCF 2019
Busking in Victoria station
RL busking in station SCF 2019
Busking outside the Central Library
RL busking at library SCF 2019
Altos and sopranos taking a breather!
RL Altos and Sops SCF 2019

Click on the following recordings of the Massed Sing (amateur and a bit shaky!):

Sing John Ball

We Need Each Other Now

We Shall Not Give Up the Fight

Red Leicester opened the Secular Society’s Peterloo commemoration event (The Carliles and Peterloo) on Sunday 7th July at 6.30 pm in the Secular Hall. The programme consisted of William Morris, Sing John Ball and Nana Was a Suffragette. The audience then joined the choir in singing a rousing and popular 19th century song celebrating the significance of Peterloo.

Peterloo SS1 07.07.19

Red Leicester raised £100 for After 18 (a charity for unaccompanied young asylum seekers in Leicester supporting them in their transition to adulthood) at the usual monthly busk in Market Street on Saturday 6th July.

Busking4 07.07.19

One passer-by was so enthused by our singing that he asked us to perform Shona Malanga to customers in his hairdressing salon – a first for Red Leicester (you can see us reflected in the mirror in the photo below)!

BuskingHairdressers 07.07.19

Red Leicester have been out singing again recently, firstly on Wednesday 15th May at the International Conscientious Objectors’ Day event on Peace Walk. The three chosen songs were: Lay It Down, Deep Blue Sea and Song of Peace. This was followed by the regular busk in Market Street on Saturday 1st June raising £66 for Water Aid

Busking 01.06.19

… and Leicester Sing for Water at the Riverside Festival in Bede Park on Sunday 2nd June where the choir sang Citizens’ Shanty (a video of which you can see here).

SingForWater19 006

Red Leicester were in fine voice on Saturday 4th May, firstly on their regular monthly busk, this time raising £37 for Extinction Rebellion

Busking5 04.05.19

… and, secondly, supporting and joining many others on the annual Leicester May Day March across the city …

May Day6 04.05.19

… where we heard an inspiring and eloquent speech by Imran from Climate Strike Leicester protesting against climate change inertia.

May Day7 04.05.19

As in previous years, Red Leicester sang at International Workers’ Memorial Day on Sunday 28th April in Town Hall Square. This annual event commemorates all the workers who died whilst at work in the previous year. Red Leicester sang The Whole Wide World Around and Unison in Harmony in their honour.

IWM Day 28.04.19

Red Leicester performed at the annual Community Choirs Festival in Stratford on Sunday 14th April giving a first outing to a new song in our repertoire, PET (Plastic Bottle song) by Coope, Boyes and Simpson (see below).

On our monthly busk in Market Street on Saturday 6th April, Red Leicester raised £120 for the Cyclone Idai Relief Fund. Thanks to all passers-by who gave so generously. You can see us below in good voice singing the Internationale at the end of our busk.

RL Busking2 06.04.19

Red Leicester held its Annual Ceilidh and Fundraiser on Saturday 30th March at the Ukrainian Hall and raised over £600 for the local charity One Roof Leicester plus over £400 for Perfectly Edible UK who provided the delicious food. Red Leicester sang several songs including: Quiet; Citizens’ Shanty; Arrogance, Ignorance and Greed; Justice Is Coming; Lives In The Balance; Peace Be With You Always; and You’ve Got a Friend. There was also dancing to Greenshoots Ceilidh Orchestra. The photos below show Ceilidh-goers demonstrating variations on the terpsichorean art!

Ceilidh6 2019
Ceilidh12 2019

On Wednesday 27th March, Red Leicester performed at the Upstairs at the Western theatre, part of the regular Choir Night series, singing a range of songs including: Arrogance, Ignorance and Greed; Lives In the Balance; William Morris; Quiet; You’ve Got a Friend; Justice Is Coming; Citizens’ Shanty; and others.

Choir Night at the Western2 March 2019

Red Leicester busked in the spring sunshine raising £120 for the Save The Children Yemen Crisis Appeal on Saturday 9th March in Market Street.

Busking4 09.03.19

On Sunday 3rd March, members of Red Leicester joined singers from Fosse Singers and DMU Square Mile choirs in the spectacular Always and Always Facing Toward the Light – a free public event about the life of local suffragette and socialist, Alice Hawkins, in New Market Square near her statue. As well as the choirs, it featured Elaine Pantling in the role of Alice, Peter Shenton as her husband Alfred, and a 3D video projection from Shared Space and Light.

It was a real highlight of the series of events in Leicester celebrating the life and achievements of Alice and the wider movement for female suffrage culminating in women being granted the vote in 1918.

There are photos on Instagram here and the full video (just over 30 minutes) below.

Always and Always Facing Toward the Light full show (from Shared Space and Light on Vimeo).

Elaine Pantling is pictured below holding a maquette of the statue of Alice Hawkins with which she was recently presented to mark her huge personal involvement in the series of events in Leicester over the past year celebrating Alice’s achievements.

Elaine and maquette2

Several members of Red Leicester joined the Extinction Rebellion demonstration outside the BBC offices near Jubilee Square on Friday 21st December to urge the BBC to take the lead in promoting the truth about climate change. The protesters sang seasonal carols with appropriately adapted words and the event in Leicester was one of several taking place across the UK in places such as London, Cardiff, Glasgow and Manchester. You can read the Leicester Mercury’s report on the event here.

Extinction Rebellion Dec 2018
(Photograph courtesy of Leicester Mercury)

Red Leicester raised £165 for One Roof Leicester on its regular monthly busk in Market Street on Saturday 8th December. Alongside the normal busking repertoire, the choir also sang Leicester’s Bleak Midwinter first written by choir member Gill Taylor in 1998 to the popular tune by Gustav Holst. The words of the song, about the scandal of homelessness, are still as relevant today:

‘I’ve got no choice about it – Nowhere else to be – Give me rest and quiet – Not more cups of tea – I’ve been kicked and spat at – Hounded to move on – I make the place untidy – Reminder of what’s wrong’

On Tuesday 4th December, Red Leicester sang at the Sing for Syria Concert (organised by University of Leicester UNICEF on Campus Society) at Christchurch, Clarendon Park Road, Leicester. The free concert, which raised £329.74 for the UN’s Syria appeal, featured several choirs, amongst others Leicester Chorus, Amika and DMU Square Mile, and Red Leicester’s programme included: I Want Rosa To Stay, Pointless Packaging, Citizens’ Shanty, The Lads In Their Hundreds, Lay It Down and Peace Be With You Always.

Sing4Syria1 Dec 2018

On Sunday 2nd December at 12 noon, Red Leicester members helped to send a message to the UN climate talks in Poland by being part of a human number 12 (the number of years left in which to take radical action against climate change), photographed from the Big Wheel in Jubilee Square and sent to the UN negotiators. This event was organised by Leicester Friends of the Earth.and Red Leicester also led the singing of several anti-fracking and environmental songs (see video).

12 years protest - aerial photo

At 11.45 am on Saturday 1st December at the Clock Tower, choir members joined others in The Happening to commemorate the 107 female victims of domestic violence in the UK in 2017. This event was organised by Women’s Aid Leicestershire and raised awareness and funds for the valued charity.

Red Leicester raised £166.10 busking in Market Street for One Roof Leicester (running the Winter Night Shelter) on Saturday 10th November.




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