Chair’s Report 2016

Chair’s Report 2015–2016

2015–2016 has been a suc­cess­ful year for Protest in Har­mo­ny. As you will hear there have been many events to sup­port and we con­tin­ue to attract new mem­bers. We are not rest­ing on our lau­rels and in the near future there are some excit­ing devel­op­ments to encour­age diver­si­ty, wider par­tic­i­pa­tion and chal­lenges to devel­op the group fur­ther, so watch this space.

Help­ing mem­bers to feel part of the group when they are unable to attend ses­sions is very impor­tant. I hope that the month­ly Choir Notes help to keep mem­bers informed when ses­sions are missed and the Com­mit­tee hope to devel­op the web­site to include infor­ma­tion about the mate­r­i­al we sing and to pub­lish upcom­ing events in advance to attract new singers. A very pos­i­tive spin off is that the Protest in Har­mo­ny Read­ing Group and Walk­ing Group go from strength to strength encour­ag­ing clos­er ties for mem­bers.
The Com­mit­tee has also worked hard ensur­ing that events and ses­sions run smooth­ly and I feel that quick­er reg­is­tra­tion, wear­ing name badges, split teas and cof­fees, and eas­i­er pay­ment meth­ods have all ensured that even with larg­er num­bers we max­imise our singing time. Again we can proud­ly state that we have kept our fees sta­t­ic. We have opened up our meet­ings to mem­bers, although no-one has yet tak­en advan­tage of this.
With the help of the Song Lead­ers we have pre­pared Per­for­mance Notes to help pre­pare mem­bers for singing on the street or in a per­for­mance. We hope that mem­bers old and new have found these use­ful and that our per­for­mances will be enhanced and our song lead­ers less stressed.

The web­site and two Face­book accounts are our pub­lic face and pri­vate means of com­mu­ni­ca­tion. Our thanks once again to Chris, Dou­glas and Hilery for their ster­ling efforts. In par­tic­u­lar we must men­tion Dou­glas who has made all our lives eas­i­er by trans­fer­ring us from Yahoo to Google groups for our com­mu­ni­ca­tions. This was a lot of hard work, but Dou­glas qui­et­ly worked his way through hun­dreds of con­tacts.
So what have we been up to since last May?

Protest in Har­mo­ny joined friends from the Peace and Jus­tice Cen­tre for a vig­il com­mem­o­rat­ing Con­sci­en­tious Objec­tors on 15th May. This was a mov­ing event for those tak­ing part.

Then on Sat­ur­day 20th June our first per­for­mance gig in a while. We took part in ‘Unsung Heroes’, a very suc­cess­ful fundrais­ing con­cert held at the Pleas­ance, rais­ing funds towards a Con­sci­en­tious Objec­tors Memo­r­i­al in Edin­burgh. Mem­bers said after­wards that it felt good to be per­form­ing to an audi­ence once again.

10–12 Jul 2015 saw a group of about 18 singers attend­ing the Street Choirs Week­end in Whit­by. It was a great week­end with fab­u­lous weath­er. Some intre­pid mem­bers cycled there, do I fore­see a Protest in Har­mo­ny cycling club being formed in the near future? It was hard work learn­ing many new songs. Led by Shereen, we gave an excel­lent per­for­mance at the con­cert.

Con­sid­er­ing August is part of our recess it was a busy month. On 6th August some mem­bers attend­ed a Vig­il at the Mound mark­ing the 70th anniver­sary of the bomb­ing of Hiroshi­ma and Nagasa­ki. Fur­ther to this On 8th Aug PiH singers sup­port­ed a fast at Par­lia­ment by Ellen Mox­ley and Janet Fen­ton. A sad occa­sion on 29th, Helen Kendall’s Funer­al where PiH singers gave a very mov­ing ren­di­tion of Bam­balela for a long stand­ing mem­ber of PiH. Her fam­i­ly emailed their appre­ci­a­tion.

By Sep­tem­ber we were fair­ly busy with a Song Writ­ing Work­shop & Rad­i­cal Cre­ative Café at the Out of the Blue Drill Hall recog­nis­ing Wool Against Weapons and the Women’s Inter­na­tion­al League for Peace and Free­dom 100th anniver­sary. On 12th Sept we sup­port­ed Edin­burgh Sees Syr­ia with a morn­ing spent rehears­ing songs with refugee, migra­tion and wel­come themes. We then busked in the Roy­al Mile before join­ing the large Edin­burgh Sees Syr­ia demon­stra­tion out­side Par­lia­ment where about 30 singers were very well received. A few days lat­er on 14th Sept singers joined with Wild­fire to sing at the screen­ing of Wool Against Weapons video clips and the film ‘These Dan­ger­ous Women.’ 26th Sept was a Cli­mate Change Ral­ly and Anti-Frack­ing Demon­stra­tion There was a spe­cial extra morn­ing rehearsal before about 28 singers sup­port­ed the ral­ly held at the Mound from noon to 1am.

Octo­ber was a qui­eter month. A small group, in very good voice, took part in ‘Hands Over Our Forth’ and enjoyed a new ver­sion of Auld Lang Syne with a pipe band. It was gen­er­al­ly thought our pres­ence added to the day.

At the begin­ning of Novem­ber on Sat 7 Nov after our ses­sion an impres­sive turnout of singers, led by Pen­ny and Jane, suc­cess­ful­ly joined forces with Women in Black and Gare­loch Hor­tis in the pour­ing rain out­side the City Cham­bers on the day before Remem­brance Sun­day. This was fol­lowed on Sat 28th with Scotland’s Cli­mate March and Singing Work­shop where Protest in Har­mo­ny host­ed a suc­cess­ful and well attend­ed open work­shop led by Jane in Teviot House before the march from the Mead­ows to a ral­ly held in the Ross Band­stand. ‘Longer arms’ were sug­gest­ed as a way of con­duct­ing singers at the back of larg­er march­es. At the end of the month a num­ber of singers joined ‘Don’t Bomb Syr­ia’ events and also attend­ed a demo out­side the Scot­tish Par­lia­ment. Our small con­tin­gents cer­tain­ly made their pres­ence felt.

Despite atro­cious weath­er on 3rd Decem­ber, about 15 mem­bers met to com­mem­o­rate the dis­as­ter at Bhopal, ably led by Shereen. As usu­al it was a very mov­ing event. Before­hand choir mem­bers also showed sol­i­dar­i­ty with sup­port­ers of the ‘Inter­na­tion­al Day of Dis­abled Peo­ple’ out­side St Giles Cathe­dral. On 6th Dec a first for us, yoik­ing on Por­to­bel­lo beach .About 30 peo­ple from PiH and oth­er groups met to do this on a beau­ti­ful, cold day. It sound­ed great. It was record­ed on YouTube to be shown in Paris. Thanks to Pen­ny for chal­leng­ing us to expand our reper­toire and devel­op our skills. On 12th Dec about 35 peo­ple sang at our annu­al fund rais­ing event for the Cam­paign Against the Arms Trade. We raised a record £124 and singers were pleased that mem­bers of the pub­lic stopped to lis­ten and show sol­i­dar­i­ty.

Thank­ful­ly Jan­u­ary was qui­et before two major events very close togeth­er in Feb­ru­ary. On 25th Feb we gave a per­for­mance as part of ‘The World is My Coun­try’ exhi­bi­tion at the Sto­ry Telling Cen­tre, ably con­duct­ed and rehearsed by Jane. Then a few days lat­er on 27th Feb 24 singers trav­elled to Lon­don to join oth­er cam­paign choirs, and many oth­ers from Scot­land and the rest of the UK, to encour­age the gov­ern­ment not to renew the Tri­dent mis­sile sys­tem.

On 10th March, unusu­al­ly for us a women only event where a pop up choir sang at an event held in the Scot­tish Par­lia­ment, cel­e­brat­ing 40 years of Scot­tish Women’s Aid. This was a real­ly suc­cess­ful evening and such a change to be singing inside the Par­lia­ment rather than protest­ing out­side. 17th March saw a small group of singers back at the Par­lia­ment to voice their sup­port for the EIS Demo by FE lec­tur­ers. On 19th March about 25 mem­bers made it through to Glas­gow for a ‘Say No to Fas­cism, Refugees Wel­come Here’ march and ral­ly. We sang many of our very mov­ing songs lead by Shereen. The beau­ti­ful weath­er con­tributed to a great atmos­phere.

April saw about 30 mem­bers head to Mof­fat for our annu­al res­i­den­tial week­end. From 15th-17th April we had a busy but above all enjoy­able time singing, social­is­ing, waltz­ing, eat­ing choco­late spoons.… If this has roused your curios­i­ty you will need to sign up for next year to find out more. On a more seri­ous note on 28th April we took part in Inter­na­tion­al Work­ers’ Memo­r­i­al Day. It was a very cold and blus­tery day, but as usu­al the group of singers felt priv­i­leged to con­tribute.

Final­ly an enthu­si­as­tic group marched in the May Day Ral­ly on 8th May.

We will not be rest­ing over the com­ing months. We will be sup­port­ing Con­sci­en­tious Objec­tors Memo­r­i­al Day on 15th May and a size­able group will be head­ing to Leices­ter for Street Choirs in June this year. Know­ing Protest in Har­mo­ny we will be sup­port­ing oth­er events as they arise over the sum­mer months.

Our 3 song lead­ers Jane, Pen­ny and Shereen set the bench mark for the choir, a high one at that, with­out their input the choir not be the force that it is. Their unstint­ing ded­i­ca­tion and effort each month is appre­ci­at­ed by all. They are always well pre­pared for our ses­sions and pro­vide us with chal­lenges and write us such won­der­ful songs. An extra thank you to Jane and Pen­ny for cov­er­ing so well when Shereen enjoyed a well-earned sab­bat­i­cal abroad. As a Com­mit­tee we are always keen to sup­port their devel­op­ment as song lead­ers, as we ben­e­fit direct­ly. To this effect we grate­ful­ly helped with expens­es for a Song Lead­ers Net­work Event. Thanks once again.

Ear­li­er this year the Com­mit­tee lost the ser­vices of Kath Old­ham who passed away after a long ill­ness. I miss her qui­et pres­ence and will­ing­ness to help out. Dou­glas is step­ping down after five years; he has reli­ably seen us through many tech­ni­cal chal­lenges, thank you for all your hard work. I have served on the com­mit­tee for five years as well, three of these as chair and my time has come to an end. It has been event­ful and a plea­sure to be involved. I would like to thank all my fel­low com­mit­tee mem­bers for their sup­port and choir mem­bers for read­ing my emails and Choir Notes and work­ing out whether I have includ­ed the cor­rect date in com­mu­ni­ca­tions.

Last­ly thanks to all the singers who come to Protest in Har­mo­ny to sing once a month or to sup­port our activ­i­ties. There is no doubt about it you are a com­mit­ted group of peo­ple who stand up against all that is unfair and prej­u­di­cial in the world, but you are also a love­ly bunch of folks who are wel­com­ing and fun to be with. With­out you, the mem­ber­ship, Protest in Har­mo­ny would not be the force that it is. So thank you, please keep up the good work. Here is to a suc­cess­ful 2016 and 2017 for Protest in Har­mo­ny.

Nor­ma Arthur

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