Freedom Song – when Gospel came to the Empire

In 1871 a group of singers from Nashville, Tennessee, took to the road, arriving in London with a music that had never before been heard in public. But this was no ordinary choir. The Fisk Jubilee Singers were students who had been born into slavery in the US. Their mission was not only to build the first black  university after emancipation but to fight for the right of all African Americans to be educated.

During their visit they, astonishingly, serenaded Queen Victoria herself and toured concert halls and cathedrals with their plantation spirituals – songs such as Steal Away and Swing Low Sweet Chariot, which were forged in the crucible of slavery and have gone on to become anthems of freedom and equality.

A century and a half later, Vox Holloway is teaming up with the Hackney Empire choir to tell the Singers’ inspiring story. Working from diaries, historical records and the choir’s own songbook, composer Harvey Brough and librettist Justin Butcher have reconstructed their struggle to win through racial abuse and physical hardship to international acclaim.

In Freedom Song, we will be joined by a professional band and soloists on a musical journey which celebrates the power of music to overcome oppression and bring people from all backgrounds together.

The Jubilee Singers are to appear in London, & I am requested to say in their behalf what I know about them — & I most cheerfully do it. … I heard them sing once, & I would walk seven miles to hear them sing again. …  they reproduce the true melody of the plantations, & are the only persons I ever heard accomplish this on the public platform – Mark Twain, 1873 

Posted in Choir, Community choir, Concert, London, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

Songs of Bethlehem – follow the stars

Just when you thought things couldn’t get any more special, we’re teaming up with the fabulous Choir of Bethlehem to bring a new twist to Christmas
A home team of Vox Holloway, Young Vox and St Luke’s Choir will sing alongside six members of the Palestinian choir for young adults, who have come on a short UK tour from their homes in Bethlehem, in the occupied West Bank, on the invitation of the Amos Trust.
Each of the choirs will sing independently – with seasonal songs in both English and Arabic – before uniting for a grand finale. We’re expecting it to be a once in a lifetime experience – a soaring celebration of hope and solidarity in an embattled world – and we hope you will join us for it.
When: Friday 7 December at 7.30pm
Where: St Luke’s Church, Hillmarton Road, Holloway, N7 9RE
How to book:  Buy your tickets here
Posted in Choir, Community choir, Concert, Singing

Book now for the Fauré Requiem

faure-requiem-imageCome and hear Vox Holloway sing one of one of the most sublime works in the sacred classical canon.

Tickets are going fast for the concert, which partners the Fauré Requiem with Incantation of Eden, an exquisite short meditation on memory by Harvey Brough and Justin Butcher.

The Faure Requiem and Incantation of Eden, conducted by James Murray, will be performed at 7.30pm on  Sunday 25 November, at St Luke’s, Hillmarton Road, London N7 9JE. 

Click here to book your tickets


Posted in Choir, Community choir, Concert

Village Green Preservation Society – in pictures

All we need is an audience …

Thumbs up from Rick…

And we’re off…

Clara made our Days …

And Young Vox were wicked …

But who’s the man in the hat..?

No more hiding behind that pillar. Harvey outs Ray Davies…


With special thanks for a fabulous evening to Harvey Brough, Clara Sanabras, Rick Leigh,  photographer to the stars Sophie Yauner. And of course, to the legend that is … Ray Davies.

Long live Donald Duck, vaudeville and variety



Posted in Choir, Clara Sanabras, Community choir, Concert, London, Singing, Uncategorized

Only remember: Fauré Requiem and Incantation of Eden

faure-requiem-imageTo round off a memorable autumn term, before we abandon ourselves to the Christmas spirit, Vox Holloway is marking the end of the first world war centenary by reviving a double-bill we first performed four years ago.

Our Fauré Requiem is in a special new arrangement by Harvey Brough based on the French composer’s original chamber version, rather than the later – and more familiar – orchestral version.

The idea of partnering it with a new piece of music was born when Harvey and librettist Justin Butcher began to think about the impending four-year centenary of the first world war.

“It led Harvey and I to reflect on how Vox Holloway might engage with the theme of another world, the land of the departed,” says Justin.

“Though not a religious believer, Fauré nevertheless found the sombre texts of the Latin Requiem Mass for the Dead a powerful and liberating structure.

As Fauré himself wrote: “Everything I managed to entertain by way of religious illusion I put into my Requiem, which moreover is dominated from beginning to end by a very human feeling of faith in eternal rest.”

Harvey and Justin’s response was “a kind of cradle-song to a new-born child.” For Harvey, who wrote the score in just two weeks, “the child remembering was a powerful image.” Out of this image came a 10-minute partner piece to one of the most beautiful – and forgiving – works in the classical canon (Fauré had no time for the punitive histrionics of the Dies Irae.)

Incantation of Eden responds by shaping itself around the gentle injunction: “Listen … and remember”.


The Faure Requiem and Incantation of Eden, conducted by James Murray, will be performed at 7.30pm on  Sunday 25 November, at St Luke’s, Hillmarton Road, London N7 9JE. 

Click here to book tickets



Posted in Choir, Community choir, Concert, London, Singing, Uncategorized