A plan to run a fantastic five day residential, on a remote island, for community choir leaders who have been working hard to support their singers during lockdown. New learning resources will be created and shared with choirs across the world!
If you are someone who loves the album and knows the joy and solace the songs can bring - check out the rewards, which will take you back to the highlights of Songs of Separation and our big win at the BBC2 Folk Awards!
If you are a community choir leader or singer, this project will result in wonderful resources for you. Pledge your support and get your ears around the music, with musical rewards!
We need to raise £11,950 to make this high quality project happen. Thank you for your support! It's an 'all or nothing' campaign, which means that you get 100% of your money back if the target is not reached.
Back in 2015, I whisked a gang of amazing musicians away to a tiny island in the Hebrides, to make Songs of Separation, a beautiful album of songs which explore 'what we share' and 'how we are connected' to other humans, through history and in our experiences of life. People told us that the music moved them deeply, left them feeling supported, connected and part of a bigger picture. Part of the human race.
Little did we know that the whole world would soon be facing an unprecedented period of 'separation'; from our friends and loved ones, and from our normal lives, as a result of the pandemic.
Photo credit: Ben Cormack / Field recording: Andy Bell
I've been watching as community choir leaders work hard to support their members throughout lockdown, running online singing sessions and providing much-needed connection, to help combat isolation. Working to keep musical communities together. Providing vital support.
I want to acknowledge this, and offer a very special musical experience for ten community choir leaders, on the tiny Scottish Isle of Lismore, in summer 2022.
The "All Sing"project will bring together community choirs from across Scotland (and further afield) to mark the end of an unprecedented period of human 'separation' and the value of connection through music. The project will recognise and reward ten community choir leaders for the immense support they have given to their choirs during lockdown. It will be an opportunity to share, to learn, to be creative and to revitalise after a challenging time.
As well as enjoying the immense beauty of the Highlands, adventures with ferries and wellies and collies (there are always collies on Scottish islands!), this will be an opportunity to learn new music, singing arrangements of songs which speak to our times - on the themes of ecology, equality and self-realisation. Using choral arrangements of music from Songs of Separation, we will sing together, and choir leaders will have the opportunity to input to these arrangements, in readiness for recreating the songs with their own choirs when they go home.
Choir leaders will be invited to Lismore for a 5 day residential break, which will include singing in strange places (Castle Coeffin). We will rehearse, finalise and record each vocal part, so that choirs at home have helpful resources to revise new songs - making the music accessible to both singers who read notation, and singers who prefer to learn by ear. We will also have 'free-style' musical fun, with sessions in the evenings, welcoming local musicians to join us and enjoy! If we can raise enough money, we'll make a short film to tell the story of this adventure.
These resources will be available to more choirs - hopefully across the world! Scores, parts, lyrics and recorded parts (for aural learners) will be available to download after the residential.
Photo credit: Sarah Campbell, Mogwaii Design
Small Scottish islands often rely heavily on tourism for income. The pandemic has affected people living in places where welcoming visitors is part of their livelihood.
This project might help because, on Lismore, there is a brilliant film maker, a supportive and accommodating sound engineer (with studio), and two friendly, musician-hosts, who welcome people to their beautiful croft in the north of the island. We need to raise enough money to pay these people well, for their warm welcome, and we hope the "SoS Music - All Sing" project will support the efforts of the whole community to attract creative tourism. It was one of the aims of the original Songs of Separation album, which took place on the Isle of Eigg. You can explore this in the band's videos on youtube:
Film credit: Ben Cormack, Picarus Films
When the ten choir leaders have gone away home, refreshed and revitalised, and have enjoyed making this music with their choirs, the dream is to bring the ten choirs together and have a massed performance of songs that really 'call out' some of the things we most need to change in our post-pandemic world:
* The gap between rich and poor.
* The need to take nothing more seriously than climate change.
* The role of the West in creating suffering for humankind.
* The need to 'find our own way home' after a world-changing event such as Covid19.
Whilst community choir leaders spend a lot of time looking after the musical needs of others they are, importantly, musicians in their own right. Here are some of the comments from musicians who took part in the original SoS Music adventure, on the Isle of Eigg:
This unforgettable experience can only happen with your help! And if donations come in quickly, they will be matched by Creative Scotland (*until the match funding runs out*).
Running a residential of this nature is quite expensive, and there will also be a lot of preparation time needed - for example, selecting the choir leaders, liaising with them, transcribing the remaining songs, arranging all the logistics and covering the costs of everyone's travel, accommodation and food. Paying a film maker and recording engineer, hosts and caterers...
Thank you for your generosity in making this very special thing happen for community choir leaders who have worked hard to connect people, through music, during lockdown. Thank you for helping us bring the world back together through music.
My personal thanks for all contributions, large or small, and my gratitude to all the supportive Songs of Separation fans who love this music and know the solace and joy it can bring.
Photo credit: Daniel Lacasta