Singing Encounters and Transformations

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper


My presentation will consider the aesthetics and politics of amateur singing, with particular reference to open-access community choirs and other vocal initiatives. In dispensing with the need for musical literacy or auditions, open-access choirs open up the world of singing and its many social and therapeutic benefits to a far more diverse demographic than that associated with traditional choral activity, as it is most often understood in the West. This trend, combined with the increased circulation and exchange of songs from many different parts of the world, represents a revolution with regard to the democratisation of singing. The fact that the sense of empowerment and liberation that many singers experience extends beyond finding their singing voice to other parts of their lives adds further weight to its political significance. Face-to-face encounters with singers from other cultures also offer participants a new understanding of how music does its work in the world and why music matters. My talk will be illustrated with examples ranging from the UK’s Street Choirs Festival to summer camps in Bosnia and Georgia. The latter are especially interesting in bringing together musical explorers from different parts of the world and local singers eager to share their heritage, whose voices we will also hear. These trends prompt us to rethink assumptions about authenticity and appropriation, and to develop a more dynamic understanding of cultural belonging and vocal identity – one that reflects more faithfully the cosmopolitan and interconnected world in which many of us now live.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusUnpublished - 2018
EventInternational Society for Music Education (ISME) World Conference - Hilton Hotel, Baku Music Academy and National Conservatory , Baku, Azerbaijan
Duration: 15 Jul 201820 Jul 2018


ConferenceInternational Society for Music Education (ISME) World Conference
Internet address


  • Amateur singing
  • Community choirs
  • Vocal identity


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