The choir scene in the UK and around the world is experiencing something of a ‘golden age’.
More and more people are recognising the joy and fulfilment that can be derived from the simple activity of singing together. A community choir is a place not only to share a love of music, but also to form friendships, share life’s ups and downs and perhaps escape to a place of perfect positivity every so often!
It is estimated that the number of choirs in the UK alone has risen to over 40,000 in recent years, a large proportion of which have been formed purely to share the enjoyment of singing – and perhaps performing – music within a local community, workplace or other environment.
One of the challenges faced by the growing number of choirs is finding a good source of quality music to work with which is both accessible and enjoyable for everyone to sing. As a choir leader of 30 years, Craig McLeish recognised this problem, but realised at the same time that he had partially solved it for himself. As a writer and musical arranger, Craig had created dozens of arrangements which he had developed with his choirs over the years. Unfortunately, they were mostly stuck away in drawers (or on hard drives) and not easily sharable with anyone else.
Craig reached out to other choir leaders and found that for the most part, they were in the same position.
The issue was that most of these arrangements existed in various shapes and forms, but without any consent from the publishers or rights owners. Other than sharing copies of these over the internet or via photocopies, which is a breach of copyright, getting the permission to offer these to other choirs was a real challenge.
Meanwhile, amateur choirs of all types are faced with a dilemma; they can either purchase music from established online retailers, where each copy is often priced at £2.50 or more, making it very expensive unless they photocopy illegally, or they look for other sources, which are often similarly ‘grey’ in terms of their legitimacy.
ChoirCommunity has been set up to provide a solution to both of these problems. We are seeking to provide a marketplace of high quality musical arrangements of a wide range of titles and genres at a much lower individual price, but fully approved from the relevant publishers.
We also recognise that many choirs don’t read conventional music and are often taught by ear with the use of learning tracks. Making copies of these without permission from the publisher is also a breach of copyright law so we are ensuring that all relevant licences for these are also obtained and made available on our site.
We are launching with a small number of well known and respected arrangers but hope to widen the author base and become the first place for choirs to come to for a reliable source of affordable yet worthwhile arrangements of works which people really want to sing!
The ChoirCommunity team (left-right): Toby Slade-Baker & Alex Lodge from Thirty-Two Music; Phil Slorick; Piers McLeish; Richard Salt; Gitika Partington; and Craig McLeish
Choir photograph (top right) by Karen Kodish