I didn’t think about singing for other people to listen – listen to other people sing comes, for me, a poor second to singing myself; so the idea of having FireChoir was to provide a place for people to sing. Seems to work well, for me at least: FireChoir being about the singing itself. FireChoir is whoever shows up and sings at the time. I think it connects us directly to the place we are singing in; and to the songs we sing. Usually the place we are singing in is a space in the middle of a particular group of sweet chestnut and birch trees on the edge of the town. This ‘in nature’ location affords us a closer relationship with songs about nature – about the earth and the cycles of the planet – that I think would be hard to find in a building: we can almost see our singing entwining with the trees and, if we lift our faces to the sky, mingling with the clouds and stars!
In December our outdoor singing came into the town - to the war memorial at the edge of Castle Park as part of a peace commemoration for victims of terrorism and violence, and to a party at FirstSite where we led the people from the indoor to the outdoor space. Both times we came along with the same ‘FireChoir is whoever shows up and sings at the time’ intention and had our ranks swelled by everyone who chose to join in with our songs. Both times also it felt as though there was some need or desire to listen too – and as though listening was an active part of the song. To paraphrase Milton – and why wouldn’t you at half past eight on New Year’s Day?! – “they also serve who only stand and listen”!
So, is the song to be sung or to be heard? When writing about the circle of trees we usually sing in, I first though t to write that they hear and witness our songs. So maybe being heard – feeling that we are singing to or for something – is more important than I have originally thought. And if our songs are worth singing they are also worth hearing!
Maybe, in 2016, we could experiment with taking the songs out of the wood from time to time and letting different trees, birds, bits of land and people hear us? They can always join in if they want to! Hope you enjoy your singing this year and I hope you sing with us!