The participants crouch around a facilitator playing the piano, singing and clicking their fingers with a strong feeling of joy.

Grief Chorus

“I expected to sing and also I wanted to explore my own experience and feelings towards the pandemic as well as hear about other people’s. I expected to create an artistic project collaboratively and that is exactly what we did. The project met my expectations, but in an unexpected way. Due to the nature of working with non performers, we approached the subject of grief in lots of different ways and with a lot of joy, which was refreshing, it also felt like a really safe space where I could express myself.”

Round I Participant

Over eight weeks in the summer of 2022, we asked the question What could healing in collective grief musically sound like? What are the musical elements of loss and grief?

We invited participants from Brent and further afield to join a participatory project exploring responses to grief through song.

The first round of Grief Chorus explored the musical elements of how grief is expressed communally across different cultures, an ode to what we have missed during the pandemic and what we are rebuilding, all while finding joy in singing together. Theatre Director David Ashley took participants through voice and breath work and developed a series of participant-written songs and exercises along with assistant Gabriella Bird and dramatherapist, Wabriya King.

Round I of Grief Chorus culminated in an informal sharing of a meal, conversation and performance for family and friends in July 2022.

The project was open to professional actors and singers and amateurs alike and was a space for people to come together regularly to sing without expectations or judgement.

Key to the project is the inclusion of people from all backgrounds, with the aim of creating work that is representative of all involved.

© Sarah Ainslie

“The right to sing is an absolute, regardless of how it sounds to the outside world. We sing because we must, we sing because it fills our lungs with nourishing air and lets our hearts soar with the notes we let out. We sing because it allows us to speak of love and loss, delight and desire all encoded in lyrics that let us pretend those feelings are not quite ours. In song, we can find shortcuts to ecstasy while performing the mundane duty of a daily shower or scrubbing down the kitchen after yet another meal. Best of all, we can sing together.”

From Wintering by Katherine May

Grief Chorus is kindly supported by the National Lottery Community Fund.