‘Singing for our lives’: A year with Côr Gobaith

9 Feb

‘Singing for our lives’, a year with Côr Gobaith

 In 2014, members of Côr Gobaith, Aberystwyth’s activist choir, took part in a Campaign Choirs mass sing at the ‘No More Austerity’ demo in London in June, sang at the No NATO rally in Newport Gwent in September, piped up again when the Wool Against Weapons action encircled the Atomic Weapons Establishment at Aldermaston with 11 miles of hand-knitted pink scarf… Participating in a similar Wool Against Weapons action at MoD Aberporth, where military drones (UAVs) are tested, the choir sang on a traffic roundabout while other activists closed the roads with part of that 11 mile scarf. Impatient motorists revved their engines as the choir tried to sing a blues version of ‘Down By the Riverside’. Despite the interference it must have sounded pretty good because the Police Sergeant in charge, surely a baritone in a Welsh male voice choir somewhere, instructed the motorist to turn off their engines, keep quiet, and listen to the singing! That Sergeant is just one of many friends and allies that Côr Gobaith made last year.

Apart from travelling the country to join in actions with other street-choirs and support peace, justice and environmental protests, on the last Saturday of every month Côr Gobaith sing on Owain Glyndwr Square in Aberystwyth, busking to raise money for good causes, usually Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders). The choir is proactive in the annual white poppy wreath laying ceremony to remember all the casualties of war, civilians as well as soldiers. This year the ceremony made the news for the most unfortunate of reasons, when the war memorial was defiled and white poppy wreaths crammed into waste bins. This horror notwithstanding, the ceremony to relay the wreaths was even more moving than the original. In this very special year of remembrance of the outbreak of World War One, Côr Gobaith also sang at a collaborative event to recall Ceredigion’s conscientious objectors. The collaboration featured a talk by Michael Freeman, former curator of Ceredigion Museum and dramatised scenes by Louche Theatre, interwoven with songs from the choir.

Any summary of Côr Gobaith’s year shouldn’t miss attending the annual Street Choirs Festival, a nomadic event staged in Hebden Bridge in 2014, which Aberystwyth hosted in 2013.  The choir also enjoyed a Christmas busking pub crawl around Aberystwyth, singing at Mad Café, Aberystwyth Pride, and national days of action against fracking in Aberystwyth and Cardiff… As if to show the power of song, the council declared Ceredigion ‘frack free’ in January 2015 and the Welsh government may follow suit later in the year. The choir is also at the heart of an academic project to record the life-histories of street-choir members across the UK. Looking inward too, Côr Gobaith takes care of its own, providing support to members who have a hard time for one reason or another.

You might think members of Côr Gobaith would be worn after a year like this, but not a bit of it. Côr members are independently active in other choirs, community theatre groups, and numerous progressive campaigns. Look closely at a Women in Black vigil against violence and you’ll spot members of the choir, proving they can be silent when needs be! And, of course, not all members Côr Gobaith are hyperactive, there’s also space for a more reflective, less frenetic activism.

2015 looks set to be equally busy, exciting and rewarding for Côr Gobaith. The choir sing mostly in English and Welsh but their repertoire includes everything from a song in Norwegian to stirring African numbers. Some members write songs too, while other occasionally pen lyrics to familiar tunes to reflect current events, translate songs, or arrange songs they love to sing in 3 or 4 part harmony. Democratically run, Côr Gobaith is always looking for new members: No auditions, no requirement to read music and no previous experience needed. Anyone who wants to raise their voice in song for a better world will find a warm and stimulating welcome with this caring, feisty and tuneful bunch!


Christmas pub crawl!

5 Dec

Don’t forget, we’re planning a pub crawl non-carol sing collection for MSF on Wednesday 17th December. Meet at 7 at the Morlan,. If you know any pub landlords, please ask them if we can come in, sing a couple of songs and collect. Hopefully Nest and Lotte will sort out some songs, Calon Lan and Ar Lan Y Mor for sure…


3 Sep

11 October 2014,  12-2pm, Golobal Frackdown Day at the Senedd, Cardiff. Click here for songs (revised 7.10.2014)

17 September 2014: The Other Western Front at the Morlan, Aberystwyth

3 September 2014: Seven Jewish Children at Aberystwyth Arts Centre

30 August 2014: Campaign Choirs at No NATO Newport

No Art for Oil

2 May

Côr Gobaith at cinema screening of BP sponsored Viking exhibition film at Aberystwyth Arts Centre Tuesday 29th of April 2014.  Everybody took the leaflets and seemed to enjoy the singing (we did, anyway!)


See also http://bp-or-not-bp.org/category/news/

Gearing up for National Street Choirs Festival 2013

23 Feb

A lot of the choir’s energy is being directed at organising this event, we are really looking forward to hosting the festival in Aberystwyth this year! Hundreds of singers will be coming to our home town to sing together 🙂 Check out the details on the event website:  www.streetchoir2013.org.uk and get in touch with us if you’d like to help out, or if you’d like to be involved as a choir. We will need volunteers for the event weekend and set up and all sorts of other things along the way!


Massed sing in Sheffield

Côr Gobaith at previous festivals: