New children's choir launches at the Usher Hall

This September, Scottish charity Love Music will launch its second community choir in partnership with the City of Edinburgh Council and Usher Hall.

Junior choir older

Love Music Junior Choir will be open to 200 children aged between 8 and 12, from all parts of Edinburgh. It will be directed by award-winning composer and educationalist, Stephen Deazley, and will be accompanied by Scottish jazz-folk legend Dave Milligan.

With a focus on inclusivity, diversity and open access to high-quality musical experiences, up to half of the places will be offered free of charge for children whose parents are on low incomes.

Karl Chapman, Cultural Venues Manager for the City of Edinburgh Council, said: “We’ve been working with the Love Music project for many years now and are keen fans of the project. It has been fantastic to see them grow into the UK’s biggest and dare I say best community choir.

“We are absolutely delighted to extend the Council’s partnership and support to their new Junior Choir, and will be offering free access to the Usher Hall’s famous acoustics for rehearsal and performance space. It’s so important for the music industry to support those with a love and a passion for singing, and for international venues like us to open our doors to community music projects.

“Ever since I started running the venue there remains one common story people like to share with me - that they ‘once sang on the Usher Hall stage’. I want to rekindle that opportunity for new generations. I’m sure the experience of joining the Love Music Junior Choir and singing on the Usher Hall stage will be a magical experience for hundreds of Edinburgh children. Let’s hope it helps them connect with our wider concert programme and develop a life-long love of music.”

Stephen Deazley, Love Music Artistic Director, said: “Love Music Junior Choir represents a long-held dream to establish a city wide accessible singing project for children which reaches out to, and supports participation from, all areas of Edinburgh - a truly inclusive massed singing project that cherishes inclusion, musical excellence and fun.

“It’s a real challenge for young people to gain access to a wide range of musical styles through mainstream and social media. We wanted to take this challenge head on and curate a wide and generous globally influenced programme with lots of different kinds of song and genres of music. A young society that is curious about other cultures early on is hugely beneficial for us all.

“Working with and for children who are at the start of their life-long journeys with music is a privilege and a responsibility - we want to share and instil a sense that singing is full of fun and joy, and create a dynamic, curious and creative space for children to grow, to expand their musical horizons and be proud of what they can achieve.”

Maddy (aged 14), a Love Music Community Choir member since 2014, added: “It’s really exciting to hear there will be a Junior Choir - what an amazing opportunity! Love Music choirs are made up of such a variety of wonderful people, and you make loads of new friends. It’s like one big family, and we bump into people we know all over town now. The range of music is enormous and I love all the different styles and languages we sing. It’s very special to practice and perform in the Usher Hall and the musicians we get to work with are very inspiring. I still think - wow, am I really getting to do this?!”

Planning and fundraising for the junior choir has been part of Love Music’s work for four years, and with generous support from The City of Edinburgh Council and Usher Hall, grants from Creative Scotland’s Youth Music Initiative, The D’Oyly Carte Charitable Trust, Baillie Gifford, and donations from many individuals, the team are delighted to start welcoming children from across the city to join its community.

Love Music has run the Usher Hall-based Love Music Community Choir since 2013, seeing it grow into the UK’s largest community choir within just a few weeks of booking opening. The choir has performed at many high-profile events including Edinburgh International Festival’s 2016 Songlines, and at the Opening of the Fifth Session of the Scottish Parliament, and presents its own concerts in the Usher Hall each year, which recently included performances with the Karine Polwart Trio and Broomhouse’s The Big Project Youth Choir, and with championship beatboxer Hobbit.

The Junior Choir’s first year will comprise of three eight-week terms during the academic year, with 1-hour rehearsals taking place on Monday afternoons at 4.30pm. Each term will culminate with a performance on the Usher Hall’s iconic stage. Choir members will learn vocal, rhythmic and other musical skills as well as improving their social skills and confidence.

Junior Choir has similar aims to the community choir – to be a fun, inclusive and inspiring experience for young people from any background. There are no auditions or requirements for previous experience, and choir members can expect to sing a wide range of music from across the world and in many different styles and languages, specially arranged for them by Stephen Deazley.

Deazley is in constant demand as a composer, conductor, educationalist and consultant, with vast experience in the field of community music making. He has directed many of Edinburgh’s children in previous singing projects including The Songbook of Unsingable Songs (Usher Hall, 2009) and A Little Book of Monsters (with Scottish Chamber Orchestra, Usher Hall, 2013) - a piece which has been performed by over 2,500 young people across the UK.

Recent years have seen an explosion of choral activity across the UK, and Love Music is delighted to offer this complementary experience to the choice of auditioned and local choirs available for children in Edinburgh. Love Music will support a trainee choral leader over the choir’s first year.

Love Music aspires to provide no-barrier access to all its projects and will attempt to tackle any obstacle facing a potential participant. Half of the choir’s spaces are reserved for children from low-income homes and funds for travel assistance are available.

More information about Love Music Junior Choir, including how to register, can be found at: www.juniorchoir.lovemusic.org.uk. Parents and carers without internet access can phone 07425 213 521 on weekdays between 10am and 5pm.

Love Music would be delighted to receive donations of any size to help support this new project. Donations with Gift Aid can be made via the fundraising website: www.totalgiving.co.uk/appeal/JuniorChoir

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