Seeing people singing with others will get me every time. Especially if those people are giving it everything they’ve got, eyes forward, chin up, chests out and demanding to be heard.
I found my own voice through singing with others. I wasn’t bullied as a teenager, but I did get the piss ripped out of me a lot for my enthusiasm for music. Enthusiasm for anything wasn’t really the thing at our school.
At 16, joining a choir of young people from all over the country who all shared this enthusiasm, gave me the courage to accept myself. Joining a choir that set high standards and demanded a level of commitment that I was absolutely ready to give to singing gave me an outlet for my natural studiousness that wasn’t academic and bookish, but communal and shared.
As a left-leaning atheist who identifies as a feminist, singing in choirs that follow a traditional choral repertoire often makes me feel silenced. Singing music by dead white men about the worth of man or a ruling Lord ,in church buildings, that only survives because other dead white men told us it was important often makes me feel like I’m letting the side down.
Last night, I watched for the second time National Theatre of Scotland’s production of Adam at the theatre where I work.
It tells Adam Kashmiry’s story about his journey from Egypt to Scotland and to presenting as a trans man. Jocelyn Pook’s music is used to give voice to people from the trans community and to ask us to see people for who they are, and to listen to their voices. Even if what had preceded the chorale finale was gubbins, that would have got to me. Luckily, the rest of the show is a pretty heartwarming experience too.
Anyway, I’m off to choir practice now.