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 owing to the national lockdown. 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.
The Independent Sage group has produced a statement about the extended COVID-19 lockdown in Leicester. This impartial assessment of the situation lays bare a number of inadequacies. These include: the lack of timely local data about infection rates and locations available to authorities; the slow and inappropriately centralised response to such data; and the unwillingness of government to give responsibility to local agencies, such as elected authorities, to deal with such outbreaks. The statement has clear implications for other areas of the UK which may have local spikes in infections. You can read the full statement below.
To provide a more detailed appraisal of the Leicester situation with localised statistics about testing and infection rates, the Leicester Mayor, Sir Peter Soulsby, has produced the presentation below.
Red Leicester’s normal July busk to raise money for a good cause has, for obvious reasons, been cancelled. So the choir has donated £50 to the Campaign Against Arms Trade, working to end the international arms trade. They have replied to say: ‘Your support, especially during these unprecedented times, is invaluable in helping us to continue to challenge the arms trade and stand up for human rights.’
Read this article in the New European by Liz Gerard to understand the truth about COVID-19 pandemic and the UK government’s response: The British People Are Being Played For Fools.
Red Leicester should have been singing at the Riverside Festival on Sunday 7th June to raise money for Water Aid but, owing to the COVID-19 pandemic, the event has been cancelled this year. Nevertheless, the choir has agreed to donate £50 to Leicester Sing for Water to support this vital cause which works to help provide clean water, decent toilets and good hygiene as basic human rights to all across the globe.
Members of Red Leicester joined crowds in Leicester city centre on Saturday 6th June for the Black Lives Matter demonstration to protest at the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis on 25th May (pictures below). There were several other similar demonstrations across the UK and, of course, across the world.
Several members of Red Leicester joined the Extinction Rebellion action (socially-distanced, of course) at County Hall on Saturday 30th May to remind councillors to honour their pledges on climate change (pictures below). Mel Gould said ‘Post-COVID we need a new normal that will help us avert an even worse climate crisis. We can’t go back to a situation where road building and using fossil fuels are seen as a viable way forward‘.
Red Leicester has supported International Conscientious Objectors’ Day for many years, joining others at the memorial on Peace Walk in remembering those people who stuck to their non-violent principles during two world wars. This year’s event on Friday 15th May was different as no such physical gathering was possible. Instead a virtual programme of readings and remembrance was held using Zoom.
May Day will not be shut down or locked down! The world’s first global virtual May Day is taking place on Friday 1st May. Organised by Labour Start working with the International Trade Union Confederation and all the global union federations, it promises to be ‘a 12 hour broadcast of videos and live events from trade unions around the globe’. The provisional programme will be released on 30th April on the Labour Start website.
An ex-member of Red Leicester, Alex Christoyannopoulos from Loughborough University, is seeking crowdfunding to publish Essays in Anarchism and Religion: Vol. III. Click here if you would like to know more.
Spot the difference! One of Red Leicester’s sopranos, Clare Scott, took her toothbrush and water to clean up the memorial on Peace Walk to the 250 conscientious objectors who refused to fight in World War 1. This makes a huge difference just in time for International Conscientious Objectors’ Day on Friday 15th May which, this year, will be celebrated online.
Red Leicester again met virtually on Wednesday 8th April with the help of Zoom technology and practised Lean on Me by the recently-departed Bill Withers, an appropriate song for the times. This is a song that we hope to be able to sing when we all get back together again. We also sang Sing John Ball and Lay It Down. Below you can see a screen shot of all our smiling faces (thanks, Adey)!
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 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!