On Tuesday 12th June, Red Leicester sang a couple of pertinent songs, Arrogance, Ignorance and Greed and Can We Afford the Doctor?, as a prelude to a fascinating talk by Professor Richard Murphy to the Secular Society in the Secular Hall (see photo below). Professor Murphy is a tax campaigner, academic and author of the book, The Joy of Tax. In his talk – How To Pay For It: the answer to the question every activist is asked – he outlined his unorthodox but compelling ideas about taxation and the mendacious way in which politicians of all parties have hoodwinked the British public into believing that there is no alternative to a low taxation, low investment economy based on the analogy of a household budget. There is and Richard communicated this to his audience in a non-technical, amusing and thought-provoking way – afterwards he even paid tribute to the choir in his blog!
On Tuesday 22nd and Wednesday 23rd May singers from Red Leicester greeted the arrival and subsequent departure of the Anti-Poverty Bus Tour in Leicester organised by the European Minimum Income Network. Two buses are visiting all EU member states between April and July to raise awareness of the need for a guaranteed adequate minimum income for all. Red Leicester sang several appropriate songs including : Arrogance, Ignorance and Greed, Can We Afford the Doctor?, and Brother, Can You Spare a Dime. The photo below (courtesy of Ambrose Musiyiwa) shows several of the Red Leicester singers plus City Mayor, Sir Peter Soulsby, local Bangra dancers and members of the EMIN bus tour.
A few members of Red Leicester joined Friends of the Earth supporters in a vigil for the trees of Prebend Gardens on Wednesday 16th May singing a specially-adapted version of Gentle, Angry People. You can view a video of this here. If you live, work or study in the city of Leicester, please also sign the petition asking Leicester City Council to sign up to the Woodland Trust’s Tree Charter and to protect local trees.
At the annual International Conscientious Objectors’ Day ceremony on Tuesday 15th May on Peace Walk, Red Leicester sang Song of Peace, Deep Blue Sea and Lay It Down following news about Eritrean refugees fleeing from compulsory conscription and an update on the 2017 Leicester Charter on the militarisation of young people (you can sign this here).
A hardy few from Red Leicester journeyed to London and walked from the embankment to Hyde Park on the TUC New Deal for Working People March on Saturday 12th May hoisting our banner high in the rain!
Several members of Red Leicester attended the International Workers’ Day Rally in Leicester city centre on Saturday 5th May. In lovely sunny weather, we listened to a number of speakers including Marlene Sidaway (President of the International Brigade Memorial Trust) in the photo below.
A small slice of Red Leicester braved the wet weather to sing Unison in Harmony and There Is Power In A Union at the International Workers’ Memorial Day event in Town Hall Square on Saturday 28th April. Leicester South MP and Shadow Health Secretary Jon Ashworth posted this video of the choir singing on his Facebook page.
Red Leicester took full advantage of the welcome sunny weather to busk in aid of Marie Curie Cancer Care in Market Street on Saturday 14th April. We raised £62 to add to the collectors’ efforts. Here we are with the Marie Curie collectors!
Red Leicester sang Bandiera Rossa and the Internationale at the moving ceremony on Friday 30th March unveiling a plaque (see below) to three Leicester men (Roy Watts, Fred Sykes and Jack Watson) who died fighting with the International Brigade against Franco’s nationalists during the Spanish Civil War. You can read more about the event in the Leicester Mercury.
Once again, members of Red Leicester joined the UCU pickets on Friday 16th March outside the University of Leicester in support of their protest against attacks on their pensions. Spirits on the picket line are still very high despite the employers’ intransigence and the strikers are determined to prevail.
On Saturday 10th March Red Leicester held its annual Fundraising Ceilidh with Greenshoots Ceilidh Orchestra at the Ukrainian Hall, Fosse Road South. The evening was hugely successful and just over £714 was raised for our chosen charity, the Real Junk Food Project, who also provided all the food. The Real Junk Food Project takes food that would otherwise be thrown away and creates lovely meals at low cost. We sang (as you can see from the photo below, courtesy of Ambrose Musiyiwa/Civic Leicester), ate and danced the evening away!
Members of Red Leicester joined the early morning UCU pickets on Tuesday 6th March outside the University of Leicester in support of their protest against attacks on their pensions. Here we are singing Billy Bragg’s There is Power in the Union (photo courtesy of Ambrose Musiyiwa/Civic Leicester)!
Red Leicester sang several peace songs at the opening of the Art and Protest Exhibition on Tuesday 27th February in the Basement Gallery of the Adult Education Centre, Belvoir St. The exhibition runs from 27th February to 13th March and 40 years of CND’s local peace campaigning is being illustrated through the work of local artist and veteran peace campaigner, Anna Cheetham (pictured below with Red Leicester, Leicester Mayor Sir Peter Soulsby and Bruce Kent – photo courtesy of Ambrose Musiyiwa/Civic Leicester).
On Sunday 4th February, members of Red Leicester joined singers from other choirs at the ceremony to mark the unveiling of the statue of Leicester suffragette Alice Hawkins in the new Market Square (perhaps that should be Alice Hawkins Square!). Elaine Pantling, reprising her role from her one woman show Alice In Her Shoes, once again inspired the crowds. She led the march and gave a speech in Alice Hawkins’s own famous words as the 7ft statue was revealed (read more about the event on the Leicester Mercury website). There was even a photo on the front page of the Guardian (see below)!
On Wednesday 24th January at 7.30 pm, Red Leicester opened a series of Choir Nights at Upstairs at the Western theatre. Red Leicester’s raised £123.60 from the ticket sales for this event and donated this to Leicester Time To Change, a local mental health group working to ‘reduce the stigma, prejudice and discrimination that surround mental health’.
Several members of Red Leicester attended the Tree Festival organised by Leicester Friends of the Earth to protest against the proposed chopping down of lime trees outside St George’s church near Orton Square. You can sign the open letter to Leicester City Council by clicking here. The picture below shows members of Black Annis Morris dancing enthusiastically in the rain!
Red Leicester again busked in the cold and damp on 13th January raising £71.50 for Leicester Friends of Bethlehem. You can see us all wrapped up below!
Leicester is one of the UK’s 2018 Centenary Cities, selected for their contribution to the women’s suffrage movement a hundred years ago and to mark next year’s centenary of the Representation of the People Act 1918 and Parliament’s ‘Vote 100’ initiative. In particular, Leicester’s Alice Hawkins is singled out for her courage and fortitude as a working class woman fighting for her rights. The city will receive nearly £200,000 to fund a series of cultural and educational events celebrating her part in the struggle. These will include the unveiling of a statue of Alice in the new market square.
Red Leicester busked in the freezing cold on 9th December and raised nearly £150 for Women’s Aid Leicestershire. Thanks to all the generous Christmas shoppers in Market Street!
Red Leicester singers supported a small gathering of Leicester City UNISON on December 8th in support of the Fair Pay Now campaign for public sector workers – long overdue! Catch some of the singing of not-so-festive carols here (scroll down to Posts).
A slice of Red Leicester sang at the University of Leicester UNICEF on Campus society’s Sing for Syria event on December 5th, along with Leicester Amika and DMU Square Mile choirs in aid of the UNICEF Syrian refugee appeal.
Members of Red Leicester and Leicester Friends of the Earth (see below) joined together inside and outside Barclays bank in Leicester on December 2nd to protest at the bank’s lack of clarity on when they would fulfil their pledge to disinvest from Third Energy, the company intent on fracking in Ryedale. The tuneful singers serenaded staff and Christmas shoppers with a variety of carols with suitably adapted lyrics. More photos are on the Leicester FoE Facebook page and a report on the protest appeared in the Lutterworth Cloud.
A meeting of the Leicester Secular Society on November 19th was devoted to Red Leicester’s telling their story, why they sing and what they sing about – What We Sing Is What We Are. Several members talked about the history, politics and music of Leicester’s socialist choir interspersed with many songs – including Unison in Harmony, I Want Rosa to Stay, The Dirty Thirty, Song of Peace, Pointless Packaging, Can We Afford the Doctor? and, of course, The Internationale – and a wonderful slide show (assembled by Frank Friedmann).
On Saturday October 28th members of Red Leicester sang in the choir accompanying Elaine Pantling in her one woman show, Alice In Her Shoes, about the Leicester suffragette, Alice Hawkins. A packed audience in Curve’s Studio attended the performance, following a march with banners from Town Hall Square, and gave Elaine a standing ovation at the end of a very moving performance. The photograph below shows the whole choir (also including members of Fosse Singers and DMU Square Mile choirs).
Click here to see a video of the audience at the end joining with the choir in singing one of the show’s songs, Rise Up Women.
Red Leicester busked in the unseasonably sunny weather in Market Street on October 14th and raised £122.20 for the We Shall Overcome anti-austerity campaign and local food banks. Here we are singing the Internationale with enthusiasm!
(Picture by Lianna Etkind who said: ‘Thank you for your wonderful singing! I love that Billy Bragg Internationale!’)
On Saturday October 7th, members of Red Leicester sang at the Palestinian Culture Event at the LCB Depot, Rutland Street to raise money for the Leicester Friends of Bethlehem who will bring a young dance troupe from the Ghirass Centre in Bethlehem (visit scheduled for June 2018).
Red Leicester members, plus singers from Fosse Singers and DMU Square Mile, pictured below rehearsing for the Alice in Her Shoes production at Curve on October 28th.
Red Leicester sang at Leicester CND‘s Peace One evening on Friday 22nd September in the Secular Hall. Songs included Ain’t Gonna Study War, Song of Peace, Foolish Notion, and Bury Trident. Afterwards, the evening’s organiser commented: ‘As always, you were superb and the choice of songs was excellent. I felt very moved by it and I am sure others did too. The feeling the singers put into what they sang was very powerful…… Thank you.’
Red Leicester will be having a New Members Evening on Wednesday 20th September at 7.45 pm in the Secular Hall, Humberstone Gate (opposite Sainsbury’s). Please come along and try us out if you fancy singing for the first time or have sung in the past and want to sing again. There is no audition or commitment – just come along and meet us! If you couldn’t come to this evening, then join us at any of our regular Wednesday evening rehearsals at 7.30 pm at the Secular Hall.
Read the latest news from the International Disaster Volunteers about their work in Haiti supporting children orphaned after the 2010 earthquake. Red Leicester have busked to raise money on the charity’s behalf. The photo below shows children having swimming lessons!
Members of Red Leicester have started rehearsing, along with members of Fosse Singers and Square Mile choirs, for the performance of Alice In Her Shoes in late-October at Curve. The event is a celebration, in words and music, of the life and achievements of the Leicester suffragette Alice Hawkins. It promises to be a really great afternoon! A statue of Alice Hawkins, designed by Sean Hedges-Quinn will be erected in the new square close to Leicester Market in 2018 (photo below, of a scale model of the statue, courtesy of the Leicester Mercury).
Red Leicester sang several songs, including Siyah Hamba and Song of Peace, at the Gandhi Global Family Peace Festival at De Montfort University on Wednesday 19th July. Read a report of the whole event on the DMU website. Here are a couple of photographs: firstly, a few of us just prior to the start of the morning proceedings and, secondly, our evening performance:
Hannah Wakley from Red Leicester and her mum, Melanie, took part in the Rolling Resistance anti-fracking protest at Cuadrilla’s site near Blackpool on Friday 14th July, one of the mass action days (Rolling Resistance) organised by Reclaim the Power to support local protestors who have been active for six years. Rolling Resistance throughout July is a very important front-line of peaceful protest to protect our environment by preventing fracking in the UK. Hannah and Melanie had taken anti-fracking song sheets and began an impromptu sing-in ending with Red Leicester’s version of There Won’t be Fracking Long to the tune of the Laughing Policeman (see picture below). This went down particularly well, although the police officers (smilingly) refused the laughing policeman role. It was a great demonstration of singing as a powerful and non-aggressive way of interacting. The Guardian reported the event here.
Several members of Red Leicester watched and listened to the unique Street Orchestra of London on DMU campus on Friday 14th July. The young musicians were superb thrilling a sizeable audience with their enthusiasm and professionalism. Try and catch them if they are in your neighbourhood!
Red Leicester sang on Gallowtree Gate before the Rally to Save Glenfield Children’s Heart Centre on Saturday 8th July. The rally included several impassioned speeches in defence of the unit from professionals and local people with experience of the life-changing work that it carries out. The public consultation ends on July 17th. Click here for more information about the campaign.
Red Leicester have just returned from a great weekend (June 23rd – June 25th) in Kendal at the Street Choirs Festival 2017. We busked enthusiastically around Kendal on the Saturday afternoon and then performed three songs (Foolish Notion, Legal Illegal and Ella’s Song) in the evening concert where we were the final choir to take the stage. This is a photo of us busking outside the Abbot Hall Art Gallery:
and another of us singing in the evening concert:
For more photos of Red Leicester at the Street Choirs Festival in Kendal, click here.
Red Leicester participated memorably, impromptu gymnastics notwithstanding, in Leicester’s Great Get Together (in honour of Jo Cox) in Cathedral Gardens on Saturday 17th June. It was very hot but there were many people in Cathedral Gardens enjoying the weather and the musical entertainment.
(Picture by Mike Sewell, courtesy of Leicester Mercury)
Leicester’s own Grace Petrie performed at Glastonwick recently and included this highly topical ‘folk song’ called A Young Woman’s Tale in her set. See https://youtu.be/xsy7guYcSLw.
Red Leicester took part in the Tenth Leicester Sing for Water concert at the Riverside Festival in Bede Park and Western Boulevard on Sunday 4th June. The choir sang two songs (I am a River and Unison in Harmony) and then participated in the massed choir (singers from Leicester Amika, Global Harmony and Red Leicester). See the Leicester Sing for Water website for more details and to donate to WaterAid (collecting money for the Oromia Region of Ethiopia).
On Saturday 3rd June, Red Leicester busked in Market Street to raise awareness of the NHS campaigns through urging people to think about the various parties’ policies towards the NHS before voting in the General Election. At the same time, about £40 was collected for this important campaign.
Concrete proof that taking action can influence corporate policy! Barclays Bank has announced that it will pull out of Third Energy, the fracking company with intentions on Ryedale, just outside the North York Moors national park. There has been a massive campaign by Friends of the Earth and others against Barclays and Red Leicester’s flash mob event a couple of weeks ago (see below) was part of this. Here’s how the Leicester Mercury reported the news on May 20th:
Monday 15th May was International Conscientious Objectors’ Day so, on Sunday 14th, a range of people gathered at the memorial (see below) on Peace Walk in Leicester to celebrate those who followed their consciences and refused to fight and to recognise that there are still many people around the world in prison for such beliefs. Various people made personal contributions and read out poems and extracts related to this topic and the 2017 Leicester Charter was launched to protest at the increased militarisation of young people. Red Leicester opened and closed the event with two songs: Song of Peace and Foolish Notion.
On Saturday 6th May, members of Red Leicester took part in a flash mob event at Barclay’s Bank in Humberstone Gate, Leicester to protest against the bank’s involvement in fracking in Yorkshire. We sang a climate-friendly version of Bella Ciao before leaving the building and continuing to sing outside (see below) – great fun with a serious message!
On Monday 1st May, Red Leicester sang at the start of the International Workers’ Day [Mayday] parade from Jubilee Square to Gallowtree Gate (see photo below).
On Friday 28th April, Red Leicester sang The Whole Wide World Around and the Internationale at International Workers’ Memorial Day (organised by the Leicester and District Trades Union Council) in Town Hall Square to commemorate all the workers around the world who lost their lives at work (see photo below).
On Saturday 8th April, Red Leicester busked in Market Street and raised £100 (£200 with matched funding from the Department for International Development) for the Disasters Emergency Committee East Africa Crisis Appeal. It was a lovely morning – here we all are below in the sunshine! Many thanks to all who put money in the buckets!
On Saturday 1st April, many members of Red Leicester went to Stratford-upon-Avon to sing in the Community Choirs Festival. Apart from joining with many other choirs to learn new songs and to sing together, we also busked at lunchtime and performed The Dirty Thirty in the afternoon concert (see below).