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Edinburgh concert, March 2023

Creative Scotland have very kindly funded a massive #ChoirsForClimate concert in Edinburgh on 5th March 2023! This will take place in Greyfriars Kirk, at 7.30pm. If you’re interested in singing in it, sign up here, and if you’re in a choir, please share with other members too. If you’d like to be in the audience, please book a free ticket on Eventbrite.

Click here to download a digital flyer for the concert.

Thanks to the Creative Scotland funding, taking part is free (small suggested donation if you want us to print music for you).

Rehearsals will be on the two previous Sunday afternoons, 19th and 26th Feb, 2-5pm in the Charteris Centre, Pleasance, and there will be a rehearsal 2-5pm on the day in Greyfriars. Music and learning tracks will be available online so you can learn at your own pace at home – links will be sent in early February.

All singers are welcome, no matter what your skill level! (attending all rehearsals isn’t vital – see below). Under-16s are welcome to join with a parent or guardian; contact Chris if you would find this difficult but would still like to join us.

If you’d like to come along and listen, please put Sunday 5th March in your diary (concert will be in Greyfriars Kirk, Edinburgh, in the evening). Admission will be free, with a collection afterwards for environmental causes. Please book a free ticket on Eventbrite so we can keep track of numbers.

If you like keeping track of your events using Facebook, click here for the event page.

This follows on from our come-and-sing event in September 2022, which was very well attended (thank you to everyone who came!)

We’ll be singing, among others:
Why We Sing
Leave The Oil In The Ground – Jane Lewis, Protest in Harmony
The Rules
Extinction Calypso – Karen MacAulay
Take It Slow, Come With Us, and Blessing from “Songs for the Anthropocene” – Anne-Marie Sanderson
Seal’s Lullaby – Deborah Shaw
Send Lazarus
Come Over – Moira Smiley
Witnesses of Time – Moira Morrison
Money – Laura Attridge / Kate Whitley
World On Our Shoulders – The Real Group

and new works from the #ChoirsForEcocideLaw project by Kevin Fox, Engelhardt Unaeb, Merzi Rajala and more.

If you can’t do all the rehearsals, that’s OK! If you’re a skilled reader, you can probably manage just coming along for the 5th March afternoon rehearsal, come-and-sing style, though doing at least one of the February rehearsals would be preferable, and please take time to listen to the recordings and sing along with everything at least once. If you can’t do the afternoon rehearsal on 5th March, please try to come to both of the February rehearsals if you want to sing in the concert.

Please also let us know about any accommodations which would be helpful for you, including Covid precautions and allergies. (The venues are fully accessible for wheelchair users, and all participants can remain seated throughout if they prefer. We will keep the group well distanced and the spaces ventilated.)

You are also welcome to attend any or all rehearsals if you don’t intend to sing in the concert, and you don’t have to sing all the pieces in the concert. We will have a small group of professional singers leading and supporting each section, thanks to the Creative Scotland funding, and they will be performing a few pieces as a chamber group also.

Sign up here to join the choir.

If you want to simply come and listen, click here to book a ticket on Eventbrite. Admission is free, with a collection at the end for environmental causes.

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Feeling The Heat

Words and music by Sheena Phillips. Catchy tune, range of just a sixth (E4 to C5). Being used in primary schools in a National Youth Choir of Scotland project to get boys singing again after the pandemic. Sheena is making the song free of charge. 

Click here to download the score (unison choir and piano).

Click here to hear an audio demo.

“When temperatures in the UK hit 40C (104F) in the summer of 2022, Christopher Bell (director, National Youth Choir of Scotland) decided it was time for some songs about
climate change. This song is about just a few of the consequences – for humans and for our fellow animals – of climate change. It’s already happening and it’s going to be rough.”

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Animals

A song about biodiversity and how humans are destroying it, but with a hopeful ending, ideal for younger choirs. The accompaniment is written for piano, but could be adapted for other instruments on request.

Download the full score (piano and choir – full text included, 12 pages)

Download the vocal-only score (4 pages)

The demo below is done by me, so an octave lower than it should be – offers to record it in the right octave would be very gratefully received!

hutchingsmusic · Animals

This would be particularly suitable for a primary/junior school choir, and is easy enough for beginning singers to learn by ear – the required range is from middle C to high E, with an optional high A on the final phrase. Most of the song is unison, but one section is divided into 2 equal parts (call-and-response), and there is further optional divisi at the very end. It could also be performed by older groups.

The text is by Brian Bilston, who has been described as “the poet laureate of Twitter”, and you can read the whole thing here or in the pictures below. Brian has kindly given his permission for the use of the text for this musical setting. It may be reproduced in concert programmes etc. in connection with performances of this piece. For any other use of the text, please contact the author at www.brianbilston.com .

Released under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International Public License.
Please use this piece to raise funds or awareness for environmental causes. For any commercial use, please contact the composer.

(note: the third line has been replaced with “some are hardly there at all” to make the piece more suitable for young singers)

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Come and Sing – Edinburgh, 18th September

Thanks to generous funding from Climate Fringe Scotland, we are able to hold a come-and-sing event! This will take place on Sunday 18th September, 2-4pm, in the Charteris Centre, Pleasance Edinburgh EH8 9RR. You don’t have to be a great singer, we just want people who are enthusiastic about climate campaigning and music!

Click here to sign up! (Your contact details will not be kept after the event unless you opt in.)

If you’ve already signed up, you should have received a link to the singing resources (scores and recordings): please email Chris if you haven’t got this yet.

Here’s a selection of the music we’ll be singing (subject to change): songs of warning, protest, solutions and hope.

Why We Sing
What A Wonderful World
Leave The Oil In The Ground
The Rules
Extinction Calypso
Take It Slow and Blessing from “Songs for the Anthropocene”

Once you sign up we’ll send you a link to all the scores and recordings, so you can learn by singing along. Strong readers can probably sightread on the day (but we’d prefer if you looked at the music in advance!) Please sign up by Thursday 15th September so that we can send you music or print it for you – extra music copies will be very limited on the day.

Admission is free – there is a suggested £5 charge if you want us to print music for you, but we hope people will either read from a tablet (to save paper!) or print the music themselves at home.

The venue is fully wheelchair accessible, and we will do all we can to meet any other access needs for singers (please give details when you fill in the registration form). Appropriate Covid precautions will be taken. Under-16s are welcome to attend with an accompanying adult.

Click here to join us!

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The Rules

This is part of a project called #ChoirsForEcocideLaw with a number of other composers and artists. Download the score here (free for climate-related campaigning). Recording below (just a demo for now, please ignore my voice quality!)

hutchingsmusic · The Rules – DEMO ONLY

Email me if you’d be interested in performing this. For 2-part choir and piano, optional divisi to 4 parts. This is a somewhat dark and angry piece and might not be suitable for very young singers.

If you prefer a lower version, here’s the Dm score. (Email me for a recording of the Dm version.)

Complete lyrics (if you’re getting bored of the spoken bit, skip to about 1 minute in):

[SPOKEN] The Amazon has been called the lungs of the world. It has between 200 billion and 400 billion trees.
Every day, about 10,000 acres are cut down. Every year, about a billion trees are lost.
It’s estimated that the Amazon cannot possibly survive if it loses 25% of its trees.
But it might be less than that. We don’t know where the tipping point is.
When the lungs of the world stop breathing, will we blame it on the axe that cut down the last tree?
Or the man who swung the axe? Or on the boss who gave the order?
Or the people who bought their products and drove their profits?
Or the laws that encouraged the corporations to make a profit at all costs?
Or the governments that didn’t make any rules to stop them?

[SUNG] All the rules say that it doesn’t really matter if the last tree dies
All the rules say it’s OK to poison rivers if your profits rise
When the fish are dead and the streams won’t flow
The polluters shrug and say well, you know,
It’s within the rules: do they take us all for fools?
When the last drop of water’s gone
and the crops and the harvest fail
who’s to blame?
When the last living tree is felled
And we see that the forest’s gone
Is the axe to blame?
Or the man who wields the axe? Or the man who owns the land?
Or the man who sold the tree? Or the man who bought the logs?
But it’s all within the law
that says it’s okay, profit’s good,
chop the tree, sell the wood,
plough the land, feed the cows,
eat the steak, enjoy it now…
All the rules say you can keep on taking water till the well runs dry
All the rules say there’s a fine but you can pay it when your stocks get high
If there’s profit made for a corporation
Then the boss won’t care ’bout deforestation
And we know they’re fools, but it’s not against the rules
It’s in the rules…
Under the North Sea there is an oil field
And if the sale of drilling rights go through
It’ll make a twenty billion dollar profit
And about a billion tonnes of CO2
When the atmosphere traps the heat
When the ice on the mountain melts
Who’s to blame?
When the water begins to rise
When the cities begin to flood
Is the sea to blame?
Or the heat that melts the ice? Or the gas that traps the heat?
Or the car that burned the fuel? Or the men who drilled the well?
But it’s all within the law
that says it’s okay, drill the well,
get the oil, time to sell,
just a little CO2,
one degree or maybe two (three, four, five…)
All the rules say you can keep on burning oil until the sky’s aflame
All the rules say that the companies and governments are not to blame
When the seas rise up and the buildings fall
And an angry planet comes to call
You can’t hide behind the rules
We won’t care about the rules
Who’s to blame? (x6)
Are we to blame?

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Why We Sing

A new piece by Chris Hutchings, written to explain why we think singing can change the world. The third verse can be rewritten to suit whatever cause you are singing about; in the first version below, it is to be sung as part of a concert campaigning to make ecocide (ecological destruction) a crime. It’s for 2-part choir with piano, and is hopefully easy enough to be sung by most children’s choirs.

Thank you to Gilmerton Singers and Castle Chorus, who gave the first public performance on 7th November in Edinburgh! Watch the video below:

Download the score here (anti-ecocide version) (if you’re singing in the March 2023 concert please make sure you’re using this score! – check the lyrics of verses 2 and 3 to be sure), and listen to a sample recording below (words are more focused on ecocide law in the recorded version, email me if you’d like a copy of that one).

hutchingsmusic · Why We Sing – Ecocide Law

Download a more generic version here (see below for words – all the music is the same).

Email Chris Hutchings to order a copy for your choir. This is free for ecological or climate campaigning; price on negotiation for other purposes.

Complete lyrics:

Just one voice can start the singing,
Stories grow with ev’ry word,
No-one is too small to matter:
Raise your voice, you will be heard.
So ev’ry day, we make a small advance,
and the snowflakes build to make an avalanche…
That’s why we sing about the change we want to see,
And when we do, we hope that all will hear,
And a melody that we all sing together
can send our message loud and clear,
We’ll sing it without fear.

When we join to sing together
We add up to so much more.
Ev’ryone can make a diff’rence,
Raise your voice and let it soar.
And if we fall, we know we’ll rise again,
and a butterfly can start a hurricane, can start a hurricane…
And so we sing about the world we want to see,
And when we look, we see it waiting there,
And the harmony that binds us all together
will send our message through the air,
We’ll sing it ev’rywhere.

Here and now we want to tell you
Of a law to help the Earth,
No more profits from destruction,
Recognise what nature’s worth.
We’ll start today, and build on what we have,
and a ripple soon becomes a tidal wave…

Today we sing to make the change we want to see,
A fairer world to which we can aspire,
And a song that we all join to sing together
will blaze our message like a fire,
We’ll sing it as a choir, we’ll sing it as a choir!

(The section in italics can be rewritten to suit your own cause or campaign.)

Suggested “neutral” version, or feel free to write your own:

With our music we can show you
Human life in all its range;
When a story sings within you,
Hearts can grow, and minds can change.
We’ll get on stage, and be a little brave,
And a ripple soon becomes a tidal wave…

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Love Soul Choir – going paperless and much more

A guest post from Dan Cooper, director of Love Soul Choir, who connected with Choirs for Climate following Music Declares Emergency’s webinar on Choirs and Climate Change.

Love Soul Choir is an auditioned choir of 140 members and has been running since 2009. In 2019, I decided the make the choir paper-free. This ended up being the first step of what came to be known as our ‘Going Green’ initiative. Since its inception, Love Soul Choir has had an online members area where song content and additional tips can be accessed by members of the choir. This members only area has always featured the lyrics of songs that we were learning at any given time.

I am lucky that the demographic of my choir is very ‘tech-ready’ which meant that when I announced that we were becoming paper-free, it was a reasonably easy thing for members to adopt. To be fair, most were already accessing the content online as opposed to printing lyrics anyway – it was now more of an official request.

For those singers who weren’t quite as au-fait with the technology, I created a safe space where they were encouraged to find a way to make it work. It was more about managing change than it was a resistance to the cause. Peers supported those that found it a little tricky but this really was the minority. Most members totally understood the reasons behind the change and fully adopted it. It now means we have no paper, and no plastic folders full of lyrics either.

The paper-free angle is not just for members of the choir; as a choir leader, I believe it’s important to lead the way and I have adopted a paper-free approach to the whole way that I run the choir. I ensure everything I need to do remains digital.

This first step was so well received that in 2020, I developed our ‘Going Green’ initiative. As a leader of a community, I think it’s vital that I educate and encourage my members to become aware about the impact of the climate emergency. Each month (from January 2020), for each member of the choir, I donate £2 to the Trillion Trees project. Trillion Trees is a joint venture between BirdLife International, Wildlife Conservation Society & WWF. These organisations came together to urgently speed up and scale up the positive power of forests, helping protect and restore forests to achieve one trillion trees by 2050, for the benefit of people, nature and a stable climate.

Each month, I update my choir members with the amount we have given and in this email I include a small tip or a bit of information about a specific topic. So far we have covered diet, plastic water bottles & renewable energy. This small piece of education goes a long way – members of the choir don’t use plastic water bottles anymore and I know a few members (off the back of an email) have changed their home energy provider to a more renewable provider. For me, small changes individually make a bigger impact collectively.

You can see more about our Going Green plan by clicking here.

Dan Cooper, Choir Leader, Love Soul Choir, UK.

Read more tips for making your choir eco-friendly here.

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Choirs Addressing Climate Change – panel discussion

On 24th June 2021 Music Declares Emergency presented Choirs Addressing Climate Change, a panel for choir leaders and participants discussing issues around the Climate Emergency & plans for COP. Panelists: Aubrey Meyer – Climate campaigner & musician; Ben See – Choir Leader and Composer; Chris Hutchings – Composer & Founder #ChoirsForClimateNaala – Vocal Artist; Naveen Arles – Vocal Leader; Nina Vinther – Singer & Environmental Campaigner. Watch the recording below or click here to watch on YouTube.

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Mass for the Endangered

Mass for the Endangered is a hymn for the voiceless and the discounted, a requiem for the not-yet-gone. Using original text by writer, visual artist, and musician, Nathaniel Bellows, in combination with the traditional Latin, Mass for the Endangered embodies a prayer for endangered animals and the environments in which they live. Written for SATB choir and twelve instruments, the five-movement piece appeals for parity, compassion, and protection, from a mindset — a malignance or apathy — that threatens to destroy the planet we all are meant to share. — Sarah Kirkland Snider

Movements
I. Kyrie
II. Gloria
III. Alleluia
IV. Credo (on a ground by Caroline Shaw)
V. Sanctus/Benedictus
VI. Agnus Dei

The piece is for SATB choir accompanied by chamber orchestra (fl, ob, cl, bn, perc, hp, pf, 2vn, va, vc, db). Total duration 44 minutes. This is a challenging piece, but should be approachable for an amateur choir of good readers, as well as for professional choirs.

Click here for more details of the piece (only available for hire at present, not purchase).

Listen to Mass for the Endangered on Spotify.

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They Can’t Put It Back

“They Can’t Put It Back” is a suite of three pieces for unaccompanied female voices (SSAA with occasional 2-part divisi) by Mary Simmons, an American composer. Skip ahead to 8 mins in the video below to hear the entire trilogy:

Download the text (Word document)
Download score sample (PDF, 2 pages from each movement)

The piece is about environmental degradation in the Appalachian region. The trilogy features poems by three Appalachian poets: Muriel Miller Dressler, Sarah Cornet-Hagen, and Billy Edd Wheeler.

“The Appalachian region is home to one of the oldest and most biologically diverse mountain systems on the continent. Tragically, mountaintop removal mining has already destroyed more than 500 mountains encompassing more than 1 million acres of Central and Southern Appalachia.
After the coal companies blast apart the mountaintops, they dump the rubble into neighboring valleys, where lie the headwaters of streams and rivers, like the Kanawha, Clinch, and Big Sandy. The exposed rock leaches heavy metals and other toxins that pose enormous health threats to the region’s plants and animals — and people.”
Appalachian Voices

To order a full score ($2 per copy of each movement or $6 per copy for all three), please contact Mary directly by email. As of May 2021, Mary has permission to release the second and third movements, but is still pursuing text permission to publish the first movement.