Fermoy choir inspires integration initiative

‘One Town-One Voice’ is a solidarity-through-song movement, inspired by Fermoy International Choir, hoping to set up over 50 singing groups across Ireland
Fermoy choir inspires integration initiative

One Town-One Voice singers preparing for rehearsals in Fermoy, Cork.

A NEW community integration initiative, which was inspired by a Cork choir, is hoping to set up more than 50 singing groups across Ireland over the next three years.

‘One Town-One Voice’ is a solidarity-through-song movement that hopes to bring people together and reflect the diversity of local populations in Ireland today.

The non-profit social enterprise is based on the successful Fermoy International Choir, which was set up in 2019.

“We’ve seen so clearly the impact these singing groups can have through the experience of the Fermoy International Choir, which has more than 100 members spanning some 25 nationalities,” said One Town-One Voice founder Graham Clifford.

“People who never knew each other before coming together regularly to sing, performing in public as one and enjoying social evenings and outings together regardless of nationality. People who would never have got to know each other without such an outlet.

“Young people, older people, people from all different walks of life, standing shoulder-to-shoulder because they all now have a common home.

“It’s just such a positive experience and a wonderful example of how welcoming, cohesive, and strong our communities in Ireland are.”

Tim Yan of Fermoy and Jackie Mocheko of Kilworth launching One Town-One Voice.
Tim Yan of Fermoy and Jackie Mocheko of Kilworth launching One Town-One Voice.

Organisers are hoping that One Town-One Voice will bridge communities, allowing friendships and bonds, like those built-in Fermoy, to grow through music.

“All towns across Ireland today will have many cultures living locally but often it can be hard to fit in and it can be difficult for someone who has lived in a town all of their life to get to know the newcomer. We hope our positive initiative can help make that a little easier,” coordinator Maeve O’Callaghan said.

The organisation’s musical director, Lisa Dunphy, will provide specially designed toolkits to groups to break down language and culture barriers, while songs in different languages and genres will also be explored.

“In Fermoy we had Lithuanian, Nigerian, Brazilian, Czech, Polish, Belarussian, Dutch, Chinese, South African and French choir members learning off and performing Trasna na dTonnta and, similarly, Irish people singing verses of other songs in lots of different languages,” Mr Clifford said.

The building of the initiative will culminate with a national festival, to be held in Fermoy in 2023.

Towns can apply for funding to set up choir groups and seek more information by emailing info@onetownonevoice.ie

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