Neighbours in Song

Saturday 4th May 2013

Something wonderful is happening at the Southbank Centre this weekend - the Chorus Festival.

Launching the Festival of Neighbourhood, the Chorus Festival celebrates the art of singing together, something which Starling Arts identifies with and strongly endorses. 

The festival programme explains that 'Singing is at the heart of neighbourhoods across the world and Southbank Centre is no exception'. We couldn't agree more. With Starling Arts, we have created our own 'neighbourhood' with our community of choirs in London, and love going to sing with existing communities in schools and businesses.

Another community we have a close relationship with is Chagford in Devon (where we hold our annual youth Summer School). Chagford's Gospel Choir will be performing on the Southbank tomorrow (Sunday 5th May) as part of the festival and will be joining the world-famous London Community Gospel Choir in the evening, celebrating LCGC’s 30th Anniversary and hoping to break the Guinness World Record for the largest massed gospel choir sing (with well over 1000 singers performing), and we can't wait to support them!

Vocal Coach Mary King. Source:

We had the privilege of joining with hundreds of voices this afternoon singing in the Big Festival Opener outside the Royal Festival Hall. Having enjoyed an excellent vocal warm-up with the legendary Mary King in the morning, we attended a short rehearsal and an hour later were part of a choir with a bunch of strangers, all of whom were now our neighbours in song. 

What we love about singing is that everyone can do it. As Jude Kelly, artistic director of the Southbank Centre said in her opening address today, 'everyone who has a voice can sing', and we couldn't agree more. It's the one instrument we all have in us which is completely FREE to use. We love that this has been reflected in the programming of the Chorus Festival, much of which is free or very cheap to attend and enjoy.

We've always been fans of the Southbank Centre and how it encourages anyone into to its spaces, whether they're attending an event, having a coffee or doing a spot of work overlooking the river. The Chorus Festival has embraced this perfectly, with Choral Platforms for various choirs dotted about around the foyer spaces, Trading Stations for choirs to teach the public their favourite repertoire and workshops with inspiring choral leaders like Tim Rhys-Evans, Tim Sutton and Mary King being housed in the various auditoria. The venue is abuzz with singing and music, and it's a wonderful atmosphere to be a part of. 

Check back for another post on the Chorus Festival from us on Monday 6th May. 

Anna & Emily

The Chorus Festival runs from May 4th - 6th 2013 at London’s Southbank Centre.