By Lucy Pople
The Covid-19 pandemic struck the country in ways we could not imagine. The Huddersfield Choral Society, along with arts organisations up and down the country, was forced to cease its usual operations, cancel rehearsals and concerts and put on hold exciting plans for the future. However, as we settled into the dreaded ‘new normal’, the society began to explore new ways of coming together to sing and make music.
The We’ll Sing project came as a response to the shocking events that led choirs across the country to fall silent. HCS wanted to maintain its voice and provide hope for the future so it decided to commission two new pieces that were presented as music videos in place of our usual autumn concerts. Poet Laureate Simon Armitage wrote two poems inspired by words from singing members who reflected their lockdown experiences.
The Lyrics to 'We'll Sing' describe some of the strange results of social distancing and national lockdowns, but also speak of a determinism to continue creating together despite the necessary restrictions on choral life; this is reflected in Cheryl Frances-Hoade's pensive and optimistic piece.
'The Song Thrush and the Mountain Ash' is a more sombre reflection of the experiences people may have faced over the past year. Daniel Kidane's setting of the poem provides a haunting soundtrack for the music video.
The music videos premiered via a live stream on 28th November 2020. We were delighted that the stream was watched by people in all corners of the globe.
The project received considerable coverage in the media: a segment on BBC Breakfast including a live interview with Choral Director Greg Batsleer and three choral members; an interview on BBC Radio 3, In Tune with input from Simon, Daniel and Cheryl; an interview on Scala Radio with Simon Armitage; a piece in the Guardian about Simon Armitage’s documentary film which includes coverage of Huddersfield Choral Society’s We’ll Sing Project.
HCS wishes to thank everyone who made this project possible including Simon Armitage, Daniel Kidane, Cheryl Frances-Hoad, Century Films and of course the dedicated singers of Huddersfield Choral Society.
Read the full lyrics for both pieces here: