“Music is almost like therapy for some people”: Longsight Women’s Choir Uses Music to Heal and Unite


A choir project offering women a chance to socialize and connect through music will be able to continue operating through 2021 after receiving financial support.

The Women’s Voices Choir group, based in Longsight and organized by Olympias Music Foundation, has existed since 2017.

The project was set up to “empower and inspire” vulnerable women – many of whom are from BAME, migrants or refugees and have been victims of domestic violence.

Operating during school time to accommodate those with children, the project focuses on different topics each term.

This year the group will learn to incorporate music into dance, poetry and theater.

“We are looking at different things with each term to identify the musical connection between these art forms and how women can create things within them,” said Jo Yee Cheung, director of the Olympias Music Foundation. . Manchester Evening News .

“The group decides what they want to focus on and we narrow it down from there. Many members said they had never performed in a play before and wanted to work with a theater company.

“We also have a large Iranian contingency, who wanted to see how we could incorporate Iranian folk into the dance. We are very participant-oriented.

The group has become a social center for many as well as a place for learning music.

Prior to the coronavirus pandemic, the group met regularly once a week with sessions led by music director Anna McLuckie and movement artist Shelley Smith.

But the lockdown has caused the group to try to find new ways to ensure members can continue to meet through online sessions.

“The group is as much a community hub as it is about music and singing,” adds Jo.

“It is important for us to share communities and give them a space to socialize. Members are always keen to show off what they’ve done between meetings and will chat often, showing things they’ve knitted or made.

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Jo says the group has become a social hub for around 20 women. In the past, the group has performed at the Whitworth Art Gallery, the Pakistani Community Center and the People’s History Museum – where they have created songs around modern femininity.

“Music is almost like therapy for some people,” explains Jo.

“Not everyone knows the same Bruce Springsteen songs so they will prefer to perform songs they wrote themselves – it’s a way to connect with others.

The group has been meeting via online sessions since the start of containment

“Through their composition, they usually give us information about their personal experiences. One of the women explained in her writings how she was held in a detention center for months with her son.

“We are not a counseling service but we listen – there is a lot of trauma.”

The Women’s Voices group recently received financial support from the National Lottery Community Fund to continue providing its services throughout 2021.

“The funding from the National Lottery has enabled us to organize weekly rehearsals and quarterly performances, to cover the rental costs of the hall, a musical director and guest artists to come and work with the women on exciting projects”, Charlie Widdecombe, Project Development Manager at the Olympias Music Foundation. , Explain.

“The choir is an important opportunity for women of very diverse cultural and ethnic backgrounds to meet and practice their English while singing – as well as chatting with others!

Women’s Voices have performed regularly at concerts across town

“Music is a powerful communication tool that transcends language. “

A recent National Lottery Community Fund survey highlighted how the pandemic has improved people’s attitudes towards their local communities.

More than a third (34pc) surveyed revealed that the pandemic had brought them closer to their community, while more than a quarter (28pc) said they planned to become more involved in local community projects this time. year.

“Having connections with your local community is very valuable,” adds Jo.

“I think it’s even more important these days to know your neighbor, or to stay in touch with your choir mates. Many people feel lonely and taking care of each other is important.

You can read more about the Women’s Voices Choir group here.


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