Singing Worlds: Professional Development Day for Voice Practitioners and Community Choir Leaders

19 May 2018 / Greater Manchester


Date: 19 May 2018

Cost: £15 (includes buffet lunch)

Details: 10.00 – 4.30

Location: Room G16, Martin Harris Centre for Music and Drama, University of Manchester, Manchester M13 9PL



Run by: Caroline Bithell

Contact details: 0161 236 0701; 07976 726284

Further information:

This workshop/study day will be especially suited to NVN members who use (or would like to use) songs from other cultures with their choirs, or who would like to know more about the functions and meanings of communal singing in different parts of the world.

The day will be structured around a set of presentations packed with musical examples (recordings and video clips) – along similar lines to the workshops I offered at the Annual Gathering but with more time for discussion. There will also be some singing!


  • To explore some of the very different kinds of vocal styles and singing practices found across the globe
  • —To offer insights (from the perspective of ethnomusicology) into the cultural contexts, functions and meanings of a selection of song types on their home ground
  • —To reflect on how the material we’ve explored might to relevant to our own practice

The presentations will be built around themes such as:

  • —The nature of oral tradition
  • —The power of song
  • —Singing revolutions
  • Singing style and identity

Extended case studies will include:

  • —Multi-part songs from Corsica and Georgia (based on my first-hand experience of living there)
  • —Women’s laments and other ritual songs: examples from the Mediterranean and Eastern Europe

Broader questions that we will begin to answer include:

  • —What does it mean to sing with others?
  • —What does it mean to sing/perform songs from other times and places?
  • —How do singers in different cultures think about things like tradition and authenticity?
  • —What meanings do ancient songs continue to carry in the modern world?
  • —How might knowing the back-story of a particular song genre or style enrich our understanding of the music itself, or the way in which we teach songs to our choirs and present them to others in performance?

THE WORKSHOP FEE INCLUDES: cold buffet lunch (vegetarian); morning tea/coffee break; take-away information pack (available on the day), including user-friendly overviews, suggested further reading/listening and links to online resources (articles, websites, etc.).

GETTING THERE: The Martin Harris Centre is a 20-minute walk from Piccadilly Station  and a 10-minute walk from Oxford Road Station. There are also frequent buses from the city centre and there is a multi-storey car park adjacent.

For more about the venue and travel directions:

The Martin Harris Centre (just off Oxford Road, with entrances on both Coupland Street and Bridgeford Street) is number 42 on the campus map:

BOOKING: Please book and pay online via the university’s eStore (if this poses any problems, please contact

For queries about workshop content, please contact:

For queries about practicalities, please contact Graihagh Cordwell (workshop assistant):

This workshop is supported by the University of Manchester in a way that allows me to charge only a modest fee to cover catering costs.