Michael Harper conducting SING FOR WATER at Thames Festival
Michael Harper and Roxane Smith conducting SING FOR WATER at Thames Festival
Roxane Smith and Katie Rose, artistic directors of SONG FOR WATER in London celebrate after the concert at the Scoop
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Sing For Water

A mass singing project that brings singers from many choirs together in concert to raise money for WaterAid projects in Africa. Sing For Water has raised well over a million pounds for WaterAid projects thanks to the tireless work of the creative teams, producers, choir leaders and singers in the UK and beyond.

Large events happen in London, Bristol, Leicester and Manchester with smaller events happening all around the country, sometimes in inventive ways like in swimming pools and on piers. Catherine Reiser, formally of Thames Festival, with whom I cooked up the first versions of it, organised a large version in Australia as part of the Commonwealth Games which I sang in with some Georgian friends.

The annual event in London is led by Katie Rose and Roxane Smith with Una May Olomolaiye, and formally by Roxane with Michael Harper.

It started nearly twenty years ago when I had the idea to raise £1000 for water projects over a weekend of singing workshops. It has now raised more than a thousand times that.  I believe that the project has grown so much for two reasons. The first is the magical intoxication of singing fabulous music together with up to a thousand people combined with the feel good factor of making a difference. The second is the fact that the invitation to leaders around the country and abroad from the start was to invent it their way rather than to follow a set format, so that each group making an event is autonomous and can follow their own ideas and creativity, according to each place’s needs. And thus many dedicated and inspired choir leaders and producers have developed the project in their own way to create memorable mass singing fundraising events.

A review from an early event:
“In Jubilee Gardens under the London Eye, singers from choirs from all over the country, and some from beyond, were conducted by the charismatic Helen Chadwick through a moving programme, including an Iraqi poem for peace and understanding set to mesmeric melody.”

Michael Harper, who has conducted Sing For Water many times also featured the Royal Opera House in The Singing Circle.

Photographs: Brendan Foster, Simon Richardson and others from Thames Festival and WaterAid.