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European Youth Music Refugee Choir

The European Youth Music Refugee choir runs choirs across England for young refugees and asylum seekers, with practice sessions, performances and residential courses. It reaches young people and provides them with new experiences, chances to develop new skills and make new friends.

The European Youth Music Refugee choir runs choirs across England for young refugees and asylum seekers, with practice sessions, performances and residential courses.

In August 2018, European Youth Music Week invited 32 young refugees to create the European Youth Music Refugee Choir, rehearsing in Bristol, Leicester and Birmingham, for one week. This culminated in a performance of three pieces of choral music, alongside the European Youth Music Week orchestra at Leicester Cathedral. The emotive performance took place underneath an art installation by Arabella Dorman made from abandoned clothes from a refugee camp on the island of Lesbos. The Refugee Choir is now an ongoing project, run solely by Young Orchestras CIC.

European Youth Music Week evolved from a post-WW2 initiative to rebuild friendship links between Britain and Germany through high quality music-making for young people. It offers an annual week-long residential music-making course for around 60 young people from around 16 countries across Europe, and beyond, alternating annually between British and German locations. The idea for creating a refugee-specific choir came about when a director of Young Orchestras at European Youth Music Week asked what more could be done to make refugees living in England feel more welcomed into the community. It reaches young people and provides them with new experiences, chances to develop new skills and make new friends.

The choir rehearses in Bristol, Leicester and Birmingham regularly with plans to expand across the country. The choir comes together, as one, at least three times a year through a free residential course and performances. For 2019, the residential is in Arnhem, the Netherlands, and the performance will be at Bristol’s Refugee Week, in June. “The project is going from strength to strength,” says Sarah Horsall, Director of Marketing and Fundraising, European Youth Music. “We have formed a partnership with Bristol Plays Music, to expand our Bristol choir, and have been invited to take part in KHArnival in Birmingham, organised by Kings Heath Action for Refugees. Our German counterparts were so impressed that they have replicated the choir for the residential course in Germany.”

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