Year three, who knew? And the elephant in the committee’s meeting room is where to take the Voices of London Festival next? Football may just have the answer.
Watching Cambridge United’s home defeat (v. Exeter, 1-0 at home, since you asked) in the FA cup earlier this month, it seemed extraordinary to me that 3,000 people could be convinced that the most fun to be had on a Saturday afternoon in Cambridge was to sit in the cold, staring into the face of dispiriting defeat. But then, what a spectacle: football has all the essential elements that make a vocal musical concert such a fantastic event – passion, virtuosity, teamwork, narrative, tension and resolution, community spirit. There seems to me to be absolutely no reason why every football fan couldn’t also be lured, Hansel and Gretel-like, into a concert hall, albeit requiring some particularly enticing breadcrumbs.
At the Voices of London Festival we clearly have our work cut out. How do we make the transition from being the Workington Wanderers of music festivals to a League Division Two team, to a Championship contender, and onwards? The answers are on the pitch. My most glorious and, frankly moving, football experience was watching Cambridge hold Man. U. to a nil-nil draw at home in the FA cup. This should have been impossible, an almost laughable mismatch of opponents, David versus Goliath’s big brother. What got the team through that match was hard work, dedication from the players, support from their fans, corporate and personal generosity, and inspirational leadership from the manager. The same basic ingredients that have seen Leicester City’s stratospheric rise this season. Surely we need to take these lessons to heart if we are to achieve the same standards?
Our plans for the future of the Voices of London Festival are big, and so too are our challenges. How do we reach those thousands of football, rugby, tennis and snooker fans, who simply do not know yet that they love choral music? How do we persuade people to take vocal music into their hearts and love and cherish it as much as we do? And most especially how do we as a committee nurture the festival as it grows?
We love a challenge and like to think differently. Look out this season for choral jazz, collaborations between varied ensembles, and the ever-evolving London Youth Choir. It’s no longer one match to win, but an entire season. Join our supporters now… I think we’ll need a kit soon!