Songliners have been raising the rafters in North London for nearly two decades and in that time we have grown, mostly by word of mouth, from an initial group of thirteen to a thriving community of around 45 singers divided into two choirs under the Songlines umbrella.
Our founding impetus was to study and celebrate the song of the exile, acknowledging the migrant’s crucial role in London’s cultural history, but we have developed into a community of around forty singers exploring all aspects of contemporary life through song. Our members come from all walks of life and their commitment to – and enthusiasm for – singing world music in exhilarating harmony ensures that audiences and participants alike are uplifted and inspired. From the outset we decided to learn everything by ear and have only used written music for one project with the awesome Bosnian interfaith choir Pontanima. They in turn committed, for the first time, to learn our songs aurally. A grand and fruitful musical exchange was born, and some lifelong friendships ensued following our Bosnian tour in 2009.
The choir has travelled and performed in Turkey six times, after the successful London debut of Sarah’s cantata ‘The Ballad Of Those Who Drink The Sun’, based on the life and work of wonderful Turkish poet, Nazim Hikmet. We collaborated recently with Randolph Matthews and jazz legend Cleveland Watkiss, playing the chorus to their mighty improvisational ‘Vocal Rumbles’. Last summer we performed alongside the awesome Romany Diamonds, learning Gypsy beatboxing and a healthy disrespect for conventional musical boundaries.
MORE THAN JUST A CHOIR
We believe that Songlines is more than just a choir. As well as weekly rehearsals, we organise singing camps and retreats, recording sessions, busking, flashmobs, holidays abroad, open workshops for all levels of experience and confidence, social events and musical evenings with international guests and teachers. We have a healthy balance of sweet-voiced chaps and earthy women. We know how to party. We have an irregular but enthusiastic improvisation group that creates amazing original material. Some of us are born soloists and others are thrilled by the ensemble, so we don’t believe in auditions but it’s probably fair to say we are no longer absolute beginners. All of our members can confidently hold a tune – some can hold several!
If this sounds like something you might like to be part of then come along and give it a whirl…it could turn out to be exactly what you’re missing!
‘If you want to up your happiness quotient while living in the capital, you could do worse than check out the Songlines Choir’ – Time Out (2010) after a sell-out gig for ‘Flying Lessons’, a piece all about the search for happiness we staged at the LSO St. Lukes.