It’s World Friendship Day today, a day to honour those friendships that make us who we are. Within our choir community we see a tribe of hundreds of beautiful friendships, full of support, love, and encouragement, and at the heart of it is our own! We take time to reflect on the power of friendship and what it means to the heart of Starling Arts.
It sounds impossible to be lonely in a city made up of over 8 million people, but many people are. In fact, it’s often the pace and culture of the city that heightens feelings of isolation, that everyone is running a race and the final destination is the important bit (even if we rarely know what this is).
I think this is why a choir community such as Starling Arts cultivates so much. There’s a weekly marker of time and space, allocated for relaxation and leisure, but with a sense of creating something together with a group of people you might not ordinarily have met. People who all have one thing in common - they like to sing! Don’t let that fool you into thinking that the choirs are made up of similar people. There are all sorts of personalities and temperaments, and that’s what makes the group tick. This is vital in striving towards a goal like a performance. You have those who easily take a lead, or those who are super committed and turn up every week without fail. Those who love the meaty challenges, and those who smile through the more tedious ones. Together we journey onwards, despite life’s inevitable challenges, making and creating all while loving and supporting one another.
Intimate, lasting friendships can be made in such settings. Friends who not only help you with a tricky harmony, but who assist with a new business idea, or moving house. Friends who swap ideas, lend belongings and create memories together outside of the rehearsal room. If someone fluffs a harmony line they are met with a neighbourly grin. We are all in this together.
Beside all of this is the friendship that Anna and I share, which is symbolic of a world we believe is improved by singing and community. Together we weave our vision for Starling, a place where people are at the heart and where the music serves to bring us together. This coming year is an exciting display of this - projects and rehearsals all reflecting the power of music to bring out the best in us and, in bringing us together, creating something dynamic, energetic and spirited. So here’s to ten years of music, and friendship.
C.S. Lewis wrote in The Four Loves that ‘Friendship is born at the moment when one man says to another, "What! You too? I thought that no one but myself.’” I’ve heard words to this effect expressed by people across the Starling Arts choirs time and again, and I think it sums up the essence of friendship in a community like ours; you find your tribe.
Emily & I found each other in much the same way. Sharing songs from the shows in our student house share, introducing each other to musicals we might not have seen or heard before, sharing a (cynical) love for High School Musical, feline creatures, theatre carpets, and long walks. We’d only known each other a year before deciding to go into business together, but our friendship was more than strong enough to be the cornerstone on which Starling Arts was built, and all because we shared many a, “What! You too?” connection.
The greatest joy of the last nine and a half years has been witnessing similar friendships being born. People who’ve met in this community have gone on to share houses, work together, be bridesmaids to one another, travel together, even marry and have children together! And all this in addition to the glorious singing, weekly pre-choir catch ups, break time chat, walks to the station, and numerous other interactions in which our singers have the chance to talk through a problem, seek advice, gossip, discuss what’s going on in the world, or even just quietly observe. It all offers up one essential thing; belonging.
So this World Friendship Day I’d like to thank this community for its love, support and the constant reward it gives in lifting me, and everyone in it, up and giving us somewhere to belong. And yes, I just got all Joe Cocker and Jennifer Warnes on you. You’re welcome.