Asylum seekers and refugees to perform with Leeds Harmony Choir in community project led by Leeds Beckett University academic
‘Cohesive Harmonies’ brings together the asylum seekers and refugee groups in Leeds for song writing and community-building workshops in preparation for the live concert later this month.
The project explores how music can promote understanding and trust to bridge divisions within local communities. The performance at All Hallows’ Church in Leeds will be given by the Leeds Harmony Choir, whose members are British citizens and Leeds-based asylum seekers and refugees.
A group of up to 20 participants have been attending song writing and percussion workshops, in preparation for the concert. The workshops help them contribute to a wider event that encourages collaboration and inclusivity, while opening new opportunities for similar community arts projects.
The participants are Leeds-based asylum seekers and refugees coming from all over the world, including Cameroon, Zimbabwe and Kenya, but students from Leeds Beckett University’s Leeds School of Arts have had the chance to take part in the project too.
‘Cohesive Harmonies’ is a collaboration between Dr Tenley Martin, Senior Lecturer at Leeds School of Arts, Musicians Without Borders and the Leeds Harmony Choir.
Dr Tenley Martin said: “‘Cohesive Harmonies' explores how music interventions can facilitate social cohesion, in an initiative oriented around the asylum seeker and refugee groups in Leeds.
“The ‘Cohesive Harmonies’ project will promote new musical approaches for facilitating cohesion between communities and will involve music workshops designed to build inter-community trust and improve societal wellbeing.”
Musicians Without Borders is an organisation that pioneers societal change through the power of music, working with communities affected by war, conflict and displacement around the world.
Emma Smith, trainer at Musicians Without Borders, said: “This project provided a wonderful opportunity to connect with members of the Leeds Harmony Choir and students from Leeds Beckett University. Using conversations about our projects as a starting point, it was brilliant to see people grow in confidence when sharing ideas about empathy and the power of music making.”
‘Cohesive Harmonies’ is a follow-up project to last year’s ‘Virtual Harmonies’, which brought together the diverse communities of Bradford and contributed to a better understanding of the divisions in the city, an aim that the organisers hope to achieve again.
The live performance will be held at All Hallows’ Church in Burley, Leeds, on Sunday, 22 May and anyone interested is welcome to attend.