Hear our voices: Sing for unity
Last night was the event, a time to be heard and a time to sing and make music. It keeps me thinking there really is no time like now.
A few weeks ago I put out an invitation for people to contribute to what would become a performance piece in a positive (action) event at my lovely university. This was the second event under the banner ‘love music, hate racism’ that we have held, and this like the first was scheduled to coincide with a day (this time the eve of 100) when music, art, and positive voices needed to be heard.
Huge thanks goes to Veronika for organising the event and instilling a real sense of collegiate community – in the true sense of those words. This time we had solo voice and solo piano, the ‘Singing for Health’ community choir (led by university students), original poetry by Kay Channon from her new book, historical poetry (read in the original language first and then translated to English), and an offering by me and Pete, which included a collaborative piece that you might have contributed to. (if you did, sincere sincere thanks to you!)
The thing that made this event so very special is that there were all sorts of performances and there was not an ounce of stuffiness. There was genuinely room for everyone and everyone’s efforts were respected and enjoyed. I did have a moment of nerves and doubt before the event began as the alumni singer rehearsed her aria and I heard her lovely operatic voice fill the hall. I thought, I am singing a Dylan song after she sings. The gulp in my throat was not about Dylan, it was about me singing, but that passed and it was ok. It was really ok, and I was proud to stand up and share what 10 people had come together to make.
The Singing for Health choir sang a magic song about the lightening tree.
Down in the meadow with the wind in the west, the lightening tree faced up to the test. It was hard when struck, when you took the wrap, the terrible wrap of the thunder clap.
We had a Bertold Brecht poem read in honour of Worker’s Memorial Day, and we paused to think of those who built the buildings we use, and for all those who have expended effort that often goes unrecognised. Adam Swayne played two very moving piano solo pieces ‘(speak to me)’ by Amy Beth Kirsten and ‘Nobody Knows The Trouble I’ve Seen’ by Stephen Montague. The second told the story of John Henry, building the railways until his end, and then his wife picked up that hammer and carried on.
It’s like our brilliant Vice Chancellor, Clive Behagg said in a speech earlier in the day, at his farewell (retirement) event:
It’s [a place is] about the people.
We must never forget that. This event wasn’t about elitism, or perfection, but about inclusion, coming together, and respecting and receiving what others had to give.
I was very pleased to be among those who came together and made their voices heard in such a positive and celebratory event. Thank you to those near and far who contributed to the Affirmation Quilt and helped me share our voices together.