nest collective's fire choir

Join The Nest Collective’s ‘Fire Choir’

As the autumn season starts, we speak to The Nest Collective about this vibrant folk music choir and how communal singing empowers people politically

What is Nest Collective and how did it start?

Founded in 2005 by Mercury-nominated artist Sam Lee, The Nest Collective began as a small gathering of music and folk lovers. Today, our vibrant annual programme includes a diverse range of music events in locations across the UK, featuring emerging and established folk, world and roots artists from across the globe.

Because we embrace and encourage connection with nature, many of our events take place outdoors in beautiful green spaces, both in cities and rural areas. We run Campfire Club gigs, the nature immersive Singing With Nightingales, Magpie’s Nest one-day festivals, ceilidhs, nature pilgrimages, and work with partners to curate stages at festivals. 

You’re kicking off the autumn season of the Fire Choir. How did it begin?

Fire Choir is our open-to-all community choir dedicated to communal singing with political empowerment. It was founded out of a year-long fellowship at the Foundling Museum by folk musician Sam Lee, alongside fellow singers, composers and choir leaders Blythe Pepino (an activist, performer and songwriter/frontwoman for Mesadorm), Anglo-Uruguayan social artist and multi-instrumentalist Alex Etchart, and contemporary acappella vocal specialist Ben See.

How long is the season? Any highlights on tap?

We meet on Mondays and run the choir in ten week terms. Running it this way fosters a real sense of community within the group, and means there’s a cause for celebration at the end of each term as we look at all that we’ve achieved together. It’s a really beautiful, heartwarming environment. Singing together is a tonic.

During the pandemic we went online, running each session via Zoom. It became a special place for people to connect when we were all isolated from each other, and we had people joining from all over the country. Now that we’re back to our usual format, we’ve decided to run hybrid sessions, so people can still join in online if they can’t make it in person.

nest collective fire choir art

What type of music genres does the choir include?

We work with songs that feed the fire in your belly! We tap into the enormous and ancient international repertoire of songs rooted in social change, highlighting social and environmental injustice around the world: folk songs, modern songs, anti-war songs, songs of resistance and struggle, the natural world, songs of love and lost worlds. We also work with contemporary songwriters and composers to commission works especially for the choir, with past commissions from Dizraeli, Martha Tilston, Ayanna Witter-Johnson and more. 

How does it fit into your wider events programme?

The Nest Collective is all about rekindling connections with nature, tradition and community, and Fire Choir is a core part of that. We give breath to old folk songs, recalibrating them for a contemporary setting, and bring people together through song. We also sometimes take our songs to the streets, performing at protests and marches as an ensemble.

The Nest Collective autumn 2022 season meet Mondays 7-9pm in King’s Cross, with the new term kicking off on September 12th. It’s open to all, so no experience is necessary, and you can sign up for a free trial before committing to the full term. Find out more.

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