Singing for survival

Anne Strudwick on the challenge of choir singing during a pandemic Singing together has always been ‘dangerous’; it can empower, unite, inspire […]By Waltham Forest Echo

Sing17 performing before the pandemic
Sing17 performing before the pandemic

Anne Strudwick on the challenge of choir singing during a pandemic

Singing together has always been ‘dangerous’; it can empower, unite, inspire and liberate, boost and embolden – we have all seen Les Miserables!

Right now, however, singing together is dangerous in a different way, thanks to the dreaded coronavirus. Sing17 is a local choir that has grown from three distinct singing groups, each with its own history. Collectively, we have had six great years of singing together and sticking together.

We have sung at fundraisers and funerals, pubs and parties, in torrential rain, and even during the ‘Beast from the East’ snowstorm. So we have no intention of letting a global pandemic stop us singing!

In March, Laura Forbes – Sing17’s founder and leader – made the bold decision to throw open our three-weekly choir sessions to all members on a ‘pay what you can’ basis and to continue all choir sessions via Zoom. It does have its upsides. We have expanded our catchment worldwide so that previous choir members who have moved out of area have been able to rejoin us with a simple click. Zoom is also a safe forum for a newcomer; it starts as a safe paddle rather than a plunge in at the deep end. You have nothing to lose but your inhibitions.

Sing17 choir remains a creative, communal experience. At the end of term, Laura mixed our individual solo recordings (made in the privacy of our living rooms) and produced our combined rendering of Petula Clark’s Downtown featuring singers aged between 18 months and 81 years! It was a showstopper without a show and a powerful reminder of what we love to do and continue to miss.

Sing17 choirs have often been helped out by the generosity of our community. In return, we have aspired to be ‘the people’s choir’. We have volunteered our voices for street parties and community events, Christmas gatherings and charity fundraisers. Over the last six years we have raised more than £3,000 for local causes.

Now the stakes are higher for all choirs. The challenge is to survive. No choir yet knows when we will be allowed to meet and sing again. Sing17 has hatched a scheme for friends and followers to invest in our future. For as little as £1 invested, each donor becomes a ‘keeper’ and receives an advance invitation to our re-launch party (hopefully) in 2021.

We are busy planning our autumn Zoom sessions. All are welcome to join us.

Find out more and get involved with Sing17: Call 07813 686 980

Listen to Sing17’s mix of Downtown: Visit soundcloud.com/user-92014700/downtown-sing17-the-megamix