Portobello Community Choir
Portobello Community Choir began in 2014. The choir offers everyone the chance to experience the joy and fun of communal singing. Although our roots are in Portobello, we attract members from across and around Edinburgh. Some people who join the choir have not sung since leaving school. Some members are confident singers whilst others are unsure that they “can sing”. We understand these anxieties and aim to support people to explore their voice in a friendly, encouraging environment. We do not ask people to call themselves a soprano, alto, bass etc. Instead, everyone can try out different parts from song to song as they wish and discover their own voice. We learn by ear so there is no need to read music. The song leader teaches each song in short, manageable phrases which we gradually join together and build up confidence through repetition. We sing unaccompanied. Sessions are held in a church hall but we are not a faith-based choir. The choir is run by a committee elected from choir members.
The choir takes part in a few events or performances each year, chosen with choir members’ agreement. There is no pressure on individuals to take part in any event. Any money made from events is donated to a charity/charities chosen by choir members and used to subsidise places at choir for those on a low income.
We sing a wide variety of songs that help us joyfully connect with ourselves, each other and both the natural and social world around us. We organise a wassail each January at the Donkeyfield Community Orchard where we sing to the trees! We sing songs that bring us joy, celebrate life events, the natural world and the turning of the seasons. We have also sung at funerals and celebrations of choir members. We are aware of the deep inequalities in the world and of the climate challenges we face – we connect with these issues through song and aim to make a difference. We were one of the first choirs to contribute to the Black Lives Matter song commissioning project and very much look forward to learning the new songs. When we sing a song from another culture we ensure we fully honour the roots and culture of that song, and pay the song writer for their work wherever possible. We sing songs relevant to world events: we organised a Porty Sings for Ukraine and all Refugees fundraising workshop on Portobello Beach in April 2022 and ran a workshop at the first ever Porty Pride in June 2022.
We offer all potential new members a free trial session to see if they like it.
Jane Lewis – songleader
I have over 20 years experience in leading community singing groups, mostly with Protest in Harmony, Edinburgh’s radical street choir. Around 8 years ago I also set up The Warblers singing group for people with chronic lung conditions. I write and arrange some songs, am particularly experienced in singing in torrential rain outside the gates of Faslane and have sometimes been spotted dressed as a grey rabbit. I am an experienced group facilitator and community worker and have worked within the disability movement for the last 30 years. I am passionate about empowering people through song and bringing diverse groups of people together. One of my singing highlights was co-leading a choir of over 250 people from across Britain for the Guid Cause re-enactment of the women’s suffrage march in 2009. I am a member of the Natural Voice Practitioners’ Network and the Scottish songleaders network.