Well, the Massed Sing music is live folks! If you have registered for Street Choirs Festival you can log on to the delegate area of the website to download audio files, songsheets and scores. If you have not registered yet….then do!
We have seven amazing pieces of music this year for our Massed Sing and this week I managed to speak to Val Regan, a Street Choirs Festival aficionado and the creator of one of this years Massed Sing song ‘Nasty’, to find out more about the Festival from her perspective.
Val, thanks for giving me some of your time. Although I’m sure lots of festival regulars know you, there will be many newbies, like me, who know far less about the beast that is Street Choirs Festival. It would be great to hear about the festival from your perspective and understand a little more about the song you’ve written for us, ‘Nasty’.
My first question was how long have you been involved with the Festival?
Although I’d been as a participant myself for a number of years, 2001/2002 was the first time I’d participated as a choir leader, with Sheffield Socialist Choir. Street Choirs festival is definitely a regular fixture in the year for many choirs across the UK. It is an ideal opportunity to spend time with like-minded people, inspire each other and sing together in the street, en masse. It’s what Street Choirs Festival is about and what makes it so special.
Are you able to pick out any particular moments you’ve been particularly proud of over the years?
There are many, but one particular very special moment was the year I took OutAloud, the choir I run now, for the first time. That was in 2008, the last time the Festival was hosted by the Brighton team. The whole choir were new to singing and it may have been our first, or certainly one of the first times we had performed for anyone. The song we’d chosen to sing started with the alto section singing alone and before we were about to go on stage at The Dome, the alto’s were so very nervous. However they performed beautifully, the choir stuck together and when finished they were bowled over by the huge amount of support they received from the other choirs and the audience. It was a very special moment.
Preparing a song for the massed sing must be a challenge. Where do you start?
The first time I contributed to the massed sing music was in 2010. Although I write and arrange music for choirs regularly, preparing something for the Massed Sing at Street Choirs Festival is a very different experience. It has to be something relatively simple and accessible, but something that will uplift and inspire.
I was moved to write “Nasty” after watching the footage of the recent women’s marches in Washington, and particularly inspired by the many placards I saw, reclaiming the word ‘nasty’. I felt it was such a strong example of the start of a mass fight back.
I think the song is accessible and very empowering.
Finally, how does it feel to hear 900 people singing a song you have written?
It really is very special to hear something that has been in your head sung back to you by so many people. You hear things you didn’t know were there and that’s great. Knowing that so many people have taken the time and given the energy to learn your work and come together to make it sound so beautiful is just brilliant.
Hundreds of voices singing together is an extraordinary thing, and one that most people don’t hear so often these days. It’s a powerful way for people to join together in shared belief.
It’s musical manifestation of the power of collective action!