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
This Too Shall Pass
Red Leicester will not be meeting again until further notice as a precaution against spreading the COVID-19 virus. The Secular Hall, our regular rehearsal venue, has also closed its doors for the time being. This does not mean that the choir’s members will necessarily be inactive over the next few months or will not be keeping in touch. There is a page of helpful and uplifting songs, verses, singalongs and other materials for anyone to access on this website at This Too Shall Pass.
Red Leicester made the pages of the New Statesman on April 3rd in an article about the rise of political choirs and how they are faring during the coronavirus lockdown (see below). You can rest assured that Red Leicester continue to sing – albeit at a distance and via the medium of Zoom – and will be out and about again when all this is over!
Red Leicester met virtually on Wednesday 25th March with the help of Zoom technology and learnt Lean on Me by Bill Withers, an appropriate song for the times. Below you can see a photo of all our happy, smiling faces!
Red Leicester featured on the BBC Inside Out programme (Monday 16th March) in its report on the ethnic diversity of Extinction Rebellion. The report is interesting in its own right (it begins at about 19 minutes 20 seconds into the programme) with footage of Red Leicester singing at the ER event in Leicester on 1st February (see below) near the end (see below).
Red Leicester busked on Saturday 14th March raising £85 for Women’s Aid. The organisation’s Chief Executive wrote to thank the choir, saying that: ‘We are very grateful to you for this donation, which will go towards helping the women and children in our refuges, many of whom arrive with little or nothing after fleeing a difficult situation. The money we receive helps to ensure the families have essential items and a safe, comfortable environment when they arrive.‘
Red Leicester’s Annual Fundraiser on Saturday 7th March at the Ukrainian Hall raised £485 for the Ghirass Cultural Centre, an educational, cultural and leisure facility for the children of Bethlehem, and £310 for Perfectly Edible who provided all the delicious food. As ever, Greenshoots Ceilidh Orchestra played some wonderful music for dancing, Red Leicester sang a set of six songs, and a great evening was had by all!
On Saturday 1st February, Red Leicester busked in aid of toilet twinning and raised £110 enabling us to pay for two toilets in Kabale, Uganda. The certificates (see below) will be displayed in the appropriate places in the Secular Hall.
We then moved across town to sing at the Extinction Rebellion event at the City Hall to help mark the 365 days since LCC declared a climate emergency (PS don’t forget to respond to the City Council’s Climate Action Plan consultation!).
Red Leicester contributed towards a wonderful evening of song and music on Thursday 30th January at the Sing for Syria concert, organised by the University of Leicester UNICEF On Campus Society. £650 was raised for children in Syria and the choir was praised for a ‘brilliant and polished performance’ by a member of the audience. Scroll down to videos of our performance below.
Red Leicester members (see below) braved the cold weather on Saturday 11th January in Market Street to busk for Leicester South Foodbank, raising £160 for this important local service. Bruce Harrison from the Leicester South Foodbank said: ‘Thank you so much for your generous donation and support’. Once again, thanks to all the Leicester shoppers and passers-by who stopped to listen and donate!
Singing some frack-free Christmas Carols, Red Leicester joined members of Leicester Friends of the Earth in protesting about climate change, and particularly the role of major banks in investing in fossil fuel companies, in several locations around the city on Saturday 14th December.
Red Leicester raised £140 for One Roof Leicester at its monthly busk in Market Street on Saturday 7th December. Thank you to all the Christmas shoppers who stopped to listen and gave generously to an organisation that provides accommodation and support to homeless people, destitute refugees and refused asylum seekers.
Red Leicester members joined the picket line with UCU members taking strike action to defend their pay, working conditions and pensions on Friday 29th November at the University of Leicester. This is the second time in the last two years that UCU members have been out on strike and demonstrates the effects of the increased marketisation of higher education.
Red Leicester sang at the opening of the Journey to Justice Exhibition at the Attenborough Arts Centre on Friday 11th October. This free event celebrates the US civil rights movement, its significance, and its links to the UK and tells the stories of some of Leicester’s own protestors and radicals who contributed to the long and vibrant history of social activism and protest in the city. Red Leicester’s set included: Harriet Tubman, We Shall Overcome, The Dirty Thirty, Nana Was A Suffragette and the Internationale.
Two members of Red Leicester have been involved in the XR Peace Roadblock in London this week. Despite the hostile press coverage depicting such protestors as crusties and luvvies, they have a strong message which Red Leicester supports and endorses in many of the songs that we sing. So, three cheers for Cee and Mel – and all the other people putting themselves on the line in London and in other cities across the world this week – we respect your commitment and are humbled by the bravery of your actions! See pictures below.
Hundreds of people congregated in Leicester city centre and marched from the Clock Tower to Jubilee Square on Friday 20th September to support the UK Student Climate Network’s Global Climate Strike. For the first time, older people were invited to participate alongside school and college students, the initiators and organisers of the action, and Red Leicester members were there in force. Get a flavour of the event through the pictures below.
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. The pictures below were taken during a very busy day’s singing around the city!
The Massed Sing in Cathedral Gardens
Busking in Victoria station
Busking outside the Central Library
Altos and sopranos taking a breather!
Click on the following recordings of the Massed Sing (amateur and a bit shaky!):
Red Leicester also performed in the evening concert in the Royal Northern College of Music; click here to view a video of Red Leicester singing Lives In The Balance and PET: Plastic Bottles.
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.
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.
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)!
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 …
Red Leicester were in fine voice on Saturday 4th May, firstly on their regular monthly busk, this time raising £37 for Extinction Rebellion …
… and, secondly, supporting and joining many others on the annual Leicester May Day March across the city …
… where we heard an inspiring and eloquent speech by Imran from Climate Strike Leicester protesting against climate change inertia.
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.
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).