Who We Are

In 2019, whilst study­ing in Edin­burgh, two won­der­ful Chilean musi­cian-film­mak­ers made a 50-minute doc­u­men­tary about Protest in Har­mo­ny, which can be viewed here: 

Protest in Har­mo­ny was hon­oured to win the acco­lade of Hands Up for Trad Com­mu­ni­ty Music Project of the Year in 2018. Here’s an edit­ed and updat­ed ver­sion of our sub­mis­sion for the award that explains who we are, what we do, and what moti­vates us.

Protest in Har­mo­ny is a rad­i­cal singing group based in Edin­burgh. We meet month­ly. We sing songs of protest; our themes include peace, Pales­tine, cli­mate change, anti-racism, sol­i­dar­i­ty with refugees, and strug­gles against pub­lic ser­vice cuts and attacks on work­ers’ rights and con­di­tions. We approach all our activ­i­ties with great joy, cre­ativ­i­ty and a sense of solidarity.

We are not affil­i­at­ed to any polit­i­cal, envi­ron­men­tal or reli­gious group. We are a flex­i­ble com­mu­ni­ty of indi­vid­u­als who believe that song can be a pow­er­ful, pos­i­tive force in the world. Our month­ly ses­sions are inclu­sive and open to all, whether expe­ri­enced singers or com­plete begin­ners. We also facil­i­tate occa­sion­al singing and song writ­ing workshops.

What unites us is our belief in the impor­tance of the songs we sing and our love of singing them togeth­er in har­mo­ny. The choir is facil­i­tat­ed by three excel­lent, expe­ri­enced song lead­ers, who mak­ing singing acces­si­ble to every­one who comes along, with no audi­tions and no judgements.

We aim to empow­er peo­ple through song, to help peo­ple find a voice, and to sing in sol­i­dar­i­ty with oppressed peo­ple and those whose voic­es have been silenced through­out the world. We draw on the rich world­wide reper­toire of polit­i­cal songs, includ­ing those of the US Civ­il Rights move­ment, the anti-apartheid strug­gle and human rights strug­gles in Latin Amer­i­ca. We also write our own songs about cur­rent issues. We are part of the UK Cam­paign Choirs network.

How we began

Our group start­ed in 2003 after mem­bers had felt sur­prised and dis­ap­point­ed at the lack of singing on the huge anti-Iraq war march in Glas­gow that year. We had a strong belief that rather than just shout­ing slo­gans, singing in the streets is an inher­ent­ly pos­i­tive thing to do. When bystanders hear shout­ing in the street they may feel wor­ried or even threat­ened; when they hear singing they tend to be intrigued and are drawn in closer. 

Since 2003, we have sung on scores of march­es and demon­stra­tions, at polit­i­cal events and fundrais­ing con­certs, and to com­mem­o­rate mem­o­rable events. We have found that singing togeth­er is life-enhanc­ing and inher­ent­ly wel­com­ing and inclu­sive: at every event, mem­bers of the pub­lic are encour­aged to join in. Politi­cians attend­ing demon­stra­tions have also joined in some of our songs, includ­ing the for­mer First Min­is­ter of Scot­land, and even attend­ing police offi­cers are some­times roused to sing along too. 

Events at which we sing

Over the course of the year, there are reg­u­lar com­mit­ments at which the choir sings. These include Open Shuha­da Street (Feb­ru­ary) — sol­i­dar­i­ty with Pales­tine; Inter­na­tion­al Work­ers’ Memo­r­i­al Day (28 April); Inter­na­tion­al Con­sci­en­tious Objec­tion Day (15 May); vig­il for Gren­fell (14 June); Street Choirs Fes­ti­val (June or July); Hiroshi­ma Day (6 August) and com­mem­o­rat­ing the Bhopal dis­as­ter (3 December).

In addi­tion, we bring a har­mo­nious pres­ence to events that protest against nuclear weapons, the arms trade, cuts in pub­lic ser­vices, and the cli­mate crisis. 

What motivates us

We love that we can protest in four-part har­mo­ny about awful things; that the choir helps us find a voice about issues we real­ly care about; that it brings non-vio­lent resis­tance into the heart of our lives. And we love that it can be enor­mous fun!

Protest in Har­mo­ny has helped many of us redis­cov­er our voic­es. It’s a source of joy to be able to take a stand along­side like-mind­ed peo­ple on the issues we can about in a non-vio­lent, life-enhanc­ing and uplift­ing way.