Lewisham should be alive with the sound of music. But sadly our local amateur choirs are still not allowed to sing even though Covid restrictions were relaxed in May.
People can eat in restaurants, and thousands can chant and sing at football matches but the government decided at the last minute to limit singing by amateurs..
“So it’s groups of six only … and six people do not make a choir I’m afraid,” says Jake Alexander, musical director, and Priya Bose, one of the founders, of the Quaggy community choir.
“It’s utterly ridiculous …. despite restrictions being lifted on most activities we are still not allowed to sing together indoors even with safety measures in place.”
Choirs across the country are now hoping that full rehearsals and performances can resume on June 21 when the final stage of the government’s roadmap back to normality is implemented.
For most of the last year, the Quaggy community choir has been singing online over Zoom. “We are really looking forward to getting together again,” say Jake and Priya.
“We can at least see each other over Zoom … but it’s not the same as singing together in person,” she adds.
Set up in 2017, by Pirya and Jake Alexander, local musicians, the choir is a multi-genre ensemble that is open to all voices – regardless of ability or experience. Most of the singers are from Lewisham and Greenwich and the choir is proud of its diversity and inclusivity.
“We do our best to make sure everyone can participate,” says choir manager Priya. All the musical arrangements are written by Jake, the musical director, with accessibility being a top priority.
Priya says the choir, which was registered as a Community Interest Company in May 2019, is passionate about improving the health and well being of the community through singing together.
She hopes the choir can help reduce the sense of isolation people may have been feeling and enrich their lives with music.
Most of the singing is done a capella – without backing tracks – and covers a broad range of song types.
Recently the choir has sung a South African lullaby, a sea shanty and a North American protest song.
But their repertoire has also included songs by Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell, George Harrison and Duffy, all arranged by Jale.
The choir is hoping they will be able to sing together in person by the Albany Garden in Deptford for Make Music Day on June 21 2021.
At the moment the choir sings every Tuesday at 7.00pm over Zoom. Musical director Jake has managed to replicate singing together using a loop pedal, which allows him to create layers of sound.
The choir’s latest project is called ‘Lewisham Sings’ and involves songs related to the history, nature and people of Lewisham.
If you are interested in joining the choir contact firstname.lastname@example.org