At the time of writing, following our 2018 AGM, I feel poised to reflect on what a year we have had.
There have been several highlights that have taken the choir to different places, settings and people in 2017- 18, so it feels apt to note these moments on our musical and political journey together.
We were privileged this year to be featured in both audio and written mediums. Firstly, we were visited by baritone Roderick Williams, for a programme about choral singing across Britain for Radio 4.
Secondly, we were approached by the Campaign Choirs Collective, to contribute to a written account of street choirs across the country, Singing For Our Lives.
In both, our members were interviewed about their perspective on the songs we sing and the history we follow/ uphold.
We were also invited to sing at two notable events – firstly sadly, but movingly, the funeral of comrade Derek ‘Red Robbo’ Robinson , who had followed and attended Clarion concerts in previous times. We were moved by the support from the trade union and labour movement on the day, in addition to his many friends and family.
Secondly, we were excited by the opportunity to sing Song of the Grunwick Pickets as part of “We Are the Lions, Mr Manager” at the Midlands Arts Centre.This was a Townsend Productions play about the 1976-8 dispute, which was led by Jayaben Desai. We hope to support a future production about Mary Macarthur and the women Chainmakers when it comes to Birmingham in 2019.
Finally, we were pleased to have supported a 250+ audience at Kinghurst Labour Club. They turned out to warmly welcome and hear the wise words spoken by John McDonnell, Shadow Chancellor, telling how Labour had listened to its ‘grass roots’ members as part of Jeremy Corbyn’s rise as leader. Our singing seemed to fit well with the words spoken.
Some other highlights from the Clarion year…
Performances for the year 2017-18:
October 2017: All Saints Autumn concert.
December 2017: Carol singing.
January 2018: Percy Lea funeral.
February 2018: Moseley All Services Spring concert.
March 2018: Midland Arts Centre – Grunwick Play; International Womens Day at The Edge in Digbeth; Kingshurst Labour Club.
June 2018: Moseley All Services with Village Band; Street Choirs in Brighton.
July 2018: Mesothelioma Support; Women Chainmakers Festival in Cradley Heath; Black Country Day.
(Photos: Annie & Adrian Banham)