Peterborough Sings! is a music education charity providing opportunities which inspire all kinds of people to find their voices and express themselves through singing. They applied to us for funding to support the community engagement aspect of the International Women’s Choral Festival in 2023. We awarded a grant of £5,000 to enable the charity make their activities more culturally relevant and inclusive for Peterborough’s large Eastern European community.

As part of their strategy to build connections, reach out to new audiences and be more representative of the city of Peterborough, a project-based pop-up community choir was specially formed to take part in the festival. The group was made up of female workers from Perkins – one of Peterborough’s largest employers, where women are a minority in the workforce – and women from the local Latvian community. They rehearsed for five weeks with festival director Will Prideaux and the Peterborough Sings! team to prepare for their performances, and for the majority this was their first experience of singing in a choir. Over the festival weekend, the group of 50 performed the traditional Latvian folksong Bedu Manu Lielu Bedu which gave the Latvian women a great sense of ownership and made them ‘very proud!’, and their performances drew a large number of supporters from the Latvian community and beyond.

A participant who was part of the pop-up Festival choir has since joined Peterborough Voices’ ‘Sing for Life’ project and has also recently joined the Community Chorus, where she continues to learn and develop her skills in a friendly, relaxed and informal environment.

“It was wonderful to attend a choral festival that also focuses on the social and community aspects within the choral sector as well bringing it to the wider public by singing outdoors.”

Photo by Michael Bailey