Sir John-Eliot Gardiner
We all have a voice, even those of us who believe we don’t. Of course we can sing on our own – from a dismal hum to a great shout of pain or of joy – in the shower or on the open plain in a gale-force wind – and we probably feel all the better for it. But come together and sing with others in a choir, small or large – that’s totally different: something so much greater than the sum of its parts. Choir singing even at a beginners’ level is proven to be therapeutic and exhilarating: it lifts us out from being alone towards a deep sense of connection, of being part of a community, part of life itself, all through the process of collective music-making.
As part of a choir you don’t need to talk or communicate your feelings through speech and language. You just have to listen and become attentive, attuned to your neighbour and to the pulse and inflections of the music, and then sing… That is what the great English composer William Byrd meant when he wrote, ‘The exercise of singing is delightful to Nature and good to preserve the health of Man.’ What excites me so much about Songbound is the swift progress it has made in just a few years towards transforming the lives, hopes and expectations of some of India’s poorest children – all through the power of collective song.
The choirs Joe has set up in the slum areas of Mumbai are little cells of promise capable of offering these children a release from their deprivation through the simple act of singing together: hope, joy, exhilaration and a sense of social inclusion. I believe this to be immensely positive social work – far more efficacious than that of hand-out charities. It is the main reason why I appeal to others to support this wonderful cause.