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 sometimes 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 in the Secular Hall, Humberstone Gate, Leicester (opposite Sainsbury’s) between 7.30 and 9.30 pm every Wednesday evening (with breaks during school holidays). 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 Leicester city centre to raise money for various causes, including: Women’s Aid Leicestershire; Friends of Bethlehem; We Shall Overcome; Disasters Emergency Committee; NHS campaigns; International Disaster Volunteers; One Roof Leicester; After 18; Extinction Rebellion; 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 and which took place in Whitby in July 2022. 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 £70 (average incomes), £40 (low income) and £0 (no income), payable three times a year at the start of each term. It is also possible to pay half a term at a time. We sometimes charge other organisations for our performances. Bookings can be arranged by contacting Veronica on 0116 2703143.
How are we organised?
Red Leicester operates democratically, with a Steering Group, a Repertoire Meeting, 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 always welcomes new members who share our ethos. If you are interested in joining the choir, please contact Veronica on 0116 2703143 or email us on firstname.lastname@example.org before attending one of our regular rehearsals (see ‘When and where do we meet?’ above). Please also read the Red Leicester COVID Guidelines (below) so you are clear about how we currently operate.
New/prospective members are always made very welcome. 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 while you decide if this is the right choir for you. If you would like to speak to someone before coming along, you can call Veronica on 0116 2703143.
If you think you would like to sing songs of struggle, protest, celebration and change, to meet like-minded people and to have some fun, then please come along and join in – it might just change your life!