Bringing people together

The idea behind the Barcelona English Choir is that everyone is able to sing. How come?
I've seen a lot of people over the years and it is all about giving it a go and seeing what happens. It's really about losing some of your inhibitions and going for it. I think there's opportunities for everyone to sing if the environment is right and if they feel supported.
And it's all in English.
Indeed, we have a lot of people coming who want to practise their English and sing at the same time, and that's the idea.
You came to Barcelona a few years ago but you are from the north of England. What brought you here and what made you stay?
I was working in the UK in the Sage Gatesheads in the north of England for a number of years, where I met my wife. We wanted a bit of a challenge and in 2011 we decided to go for it really and decided to move over here. But before that point, I was working in many different areas across the community as a musician.
You studied music at Cambridge.
Yes, and after that I became involved with the Sage Gatesheads, which is an amazing concert hall focused on education programmes, so I did a community music programme training there. I was working with very young children, with people with disabilities, with older people, homeless people, people in prisons, doing music projects.
Music as a social tool, how does that work?
For me music is a social glue really; it's a great way to connect people, as it's very rare that you find someone who doesn't enjoy music. The great thing about music projects is that they offer everyone the opportunity to engage. In my work in the UK it was really a way to help people to open up, especially when dealing with people with all sorts of difficulties. Music is a great way of bringing people together and it is a really uniting thing. You can start from a very small place and you can see people's self confidence develop, people who have never had any experience of singing or playing an instrument. For me, the social side of it is the reason number one I do it; it's amazing seeing the joy you get from seeing people singing.
There are many studies about the benefits of singing
Yes, there has been a lot of research on that subject. You can see people becoming more relaxed, physically using their bodies more, and it really deals with physical and mental health.
Did you have the idea of creating a choir when you moved to Barcelona?
Not really, at the beginning it was like a mini-sabbatical or honeymoon. We spent a few months just sorting things out and while my wife went straight into teaching, I spent some time exploring possibilities.
Any different cultural experiences?
It's wonderful to see different generations spending time together. Part of it tends to do with the weather and part of it with culture. I love the small shops of our neighbourhood in Sants. In my village it's the same family feeling, but it's definitely dying out, that type of trade.
How did Barcelona English Choir start? You've now reached 170 members.
In England I worked with community choirs, and in Catalonia there was an amazing choral tradition. I realised there is a huge demand for English language services, and it struck me that this could be something I could combine.
Where are the members of the choir from?
From the UK, other English speaking countries and from all over the world, but the majority are Catalans.
How can one become a member? There is no audition.
By getting in touch via our website or facebook page (www.barcelonaenglishchoir.com). You just come along, try a session and see what you think. There are three terms per year, three months each, and you commit to one term at a time.
What about the fees?
It's about five euros each week. A two-hour session, a lot of singing, quite accessible. Even for those with financial problems it's not a problem. It's very open in that way. There are three groups, in St Pere, St Gervasi and El Born and we all come together for big events.
What are the main concepts behind the choir?
There are three main ideas: everyone can sing, come to enjoy the experience of singing; the sense of building a community and socialising in a supportive and welcoming atmosphere and, practising English at the same time.
Any projects for the near future?
We can grow more; it would be lovely to have our own space. In 2017 it will be our fifth year and I'd like to do a big charity-based project and get together 500 singers for that special occasion.
Ed Aldcraft Each Wednesday at 6.30 pm, El Punt Avui TV airs the series of interviews, Catalan Connections. Marcela Topor talked to Ed Aldcraft, the director of the Barcelona English Choir.
Sign in. Sign in if you are already a verified reader. I want to become verified reader. To leave comments on the website you must be a verified reader.
Note: To leave comments on the website you must be a verified reader and accept the conditions of use.