On Saturday 29 June, A Choir of Our Time brings together community choirs from across Lambeth and Southwark culminating in a performance of Michael Tippett’s pacifist oratorio A Child of Our Time. An initiative of Morley College, and featuring community singers alongside members of the BBC Singers and London Philharmonic Orchestra, this 300-strong Royal Festival Hall performance is part of Southbank Centre’s Nucleo weekend, which will see the site transformed into a community centre for music-making. Nucleo is one of several themed weekends during Southbank Centre’s summer-long Festival of Neighbourhood.

A Choir of Our Time forges links between eight established community choirs, and sets up a brand new choir reaching a wide cross-section of the local community; free and open to any local adult regardless of experience, with free crèche and language support available, The Local Vocals is Morley’s latest outreach project in its home boroughs of Lambeth and Southwark. All eight choirs taking part have access to online resources and master-classes led by the BBC Singers. Music publisher Schott has permitted new arrangements of the music of the Spirituals, making them more accessible to the wide variety of singers involved.

Sir Michael Tippett was Director of Music at Morley from 1940, with his position kept open for him while he was interned as a conscientious objector to the Second World War. Composed in response to the anti-Jewish events surrounding ‘Kristallnacht’, A Child of Our Time is Tippett’s universal message of tolerance. “Lift up your Hearts, Lay down your Weapons” was the concluding line of his ‘artist’s vision of creative peace’, published in 1944 as this work premiered.

A Choir of Our Time is a joint initiative of the Music and Community Learning departments at Morley College, supported by an award from the Community Learning Innovation Fund of the Skills Funding Agency. The concert is presented in partnership with Southbank Centre and the BBC Singers, and also includes music from The Planets. The suite’s composer, Gustav Holst was another of Morley’s distinguished Directors of Music, in the 1920s and 30s.

“I am thrilled to be leading A Choir of Our Time, bringing a community together through the pure joy of singing. It is an honour for me to follow in Michael Tippett’s shoes as Director of Music at Morley and to conduct this seminal piece. I hope that A Choir of Our Time will be a fitting tribute to Tippett and his passion for community, humanism and peace.” Andrea Brown, Director of Music, Morley College

“The BBC Singers sits at the heart of British choral music and it is a huge pleasure to take a lead role in this glorious new collaboration.” Paul Hughes, General Manager, BBC Singers

“I haven’t sung before and thought it was something I couldn’t do… It’s fantastic to have found something like this just two minutes from the estate I live on.” Local Vocals singer.


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