Photo by Robin Zahler, courtesy of Light Up Lancaster 2

Arts Lancashire unveils Lancashire County of Song 2024

Arts Lancashire supported by Lancashire County Council and in association with Horse + Bamboo and Encounter Voices proudly announces the launch of Lancashire County of Song 2024 (CoS24), a groundbreaking initiative celebrating the vibrancy and diversity of Lancashire's singing traditions.

Born out of the collaborative efforts of Encounter Voices, the Lancashire Choir of the Year Competition, and local singing groups across every district, CoS24 is a year-long celebration designed to showcase Lancashire's rich vocal tapestry while promoting the myriad benefits of communal singing.

The key aims of County of Song include:

  • Showcasing Lancashire’s Singing Traditions: Highlighting the quality and diversity of Lancashire’s rich vocal heritage.
  • Promoting Health and Social Connection: Emphasising the health benefits of singing and its role in fostering social connections and local pride.
  • Making Singing Accessible: Encouraging participation by promoting singing as an "easy access" activity.
  • Raising Awareness of Local Vocal Opportunities: Providing information about vocal opportunities in every district across the county.
  • Strengthening the Grassroots Singing Ecosystem: Leaving a lasting legacy by connecting and strengthening Lancashire's grassroots singing community.

Musical Director Loz Kaye Leads the Way

Under the direction of Musical Director, Loz Kaye, the County of Song program will coordinate a series of high-quality vocal concerts, festivals, training sessions, and workshops throughout Lancashire.

Loz Kaye said: "County of Song is a unique opportunity to celebrate the incredible vocal talent within Lancashire.

"We aim not only to showcase the existing richness of our singing traditions but also to inspire new generations to join in the joy of singing."

Local Leaders Embrace County of Song

Arts Lancashire Chair, Alexandra O'Toole, said: "As Chair of Arts Lancashire, I am delighted to announce that Arts Lancashire is the host organisation for County of Song. This initiative not only celebrates Lancashire's cultural diversity but also underscores the transformative power of singing in fostering connections and well-being.”

Councillor Peter Buckley, cabinet member for Community and Cultural Services at Lancashire County Council, said: “County of Song is a great opportunity for Lancashire to come together over a whole year to celebrate the power of community singing. This initiative reinforces our commitment to promoting culture and community engagement and complements well our Choir of the Year competition.”

The annual Encounter Festival in Preston, which celebrates the breadth of the County's diverse cultural offer with high quality and high-profile arts, has been celebrating the power and joy of Lancashire voices through its Encounter Voices programme for the last couple of years.

Esther Ferry-Kennington, Encounter Festival Producer, said: "County of Song is a transformative celebration that amplifies Lancashire’s vocal heritage, creating a harmonious blend of tradition and innovation. It's an ode to unity through communal singing, bridging diverse voices for a vibrant, resonant Lancashire chorus."

Jayne Kelly, Support and Development Lead for Fylde based Connect Community Choir, said: "County of Song is a fantastic opportunity for local singing groups to connect, share best practices, and contribute to a vibrant Lancashire singing community. We're excited to be part of this movement."

Promoting Inclusivity and Addressing Needs

CoS24 will also address the findings of Encounter Voices' research, focusing on underrepresented areas like East Lancashire. The program aims to connect singers and groups in East Lancashire to a wider support network, fostering partnerships with cultural organisations to create more singing performance opportunities in the region.

Outcomes and Lasting Impact

The outcomes for the County of Song program include a year-round program of high-quality vocal events, identification and promotion of 14 community vocal champions (one in each district), the creation of a recruitment toolkit, lasting partnerships to support grassroots vocal work, and the development of youth to adult community singing progression routes.

County of Song promises to leave a lasting legacy, fostering a broader understanding of the opportunities and benefits of singing in Lancashire.

Find out more about County of Song.