SJOKK in Aberytwyth

IssueAugust - September 2019
News by Kelvin Mason, Carol Jenkins

Over the weekend of the 7–9 June, the streets of Aberystwyth reverberated with the sound of singing in at least three languages – Welsh, Norwegian and English – as Aberystwyth’s Côr Gobaith hosted Norwegian socialist choir SJOKK, Pales Peace Choir from Powys, and Cardiff’s renowned Côr Cochion. SJOKK (‘shock’) was founded in 1981 to ‘spread socialist and humanistic ideas and values through singing and music’.

The event was a result of a chance meeting at the 2018 Street Choirs Festival between members of SJOKK and Côr Gobaith.

At this divisive moment in our history, the aim of the visit was to share cultures and build bridges between places and people struggling for progressive change. And what better way to do that than through the power of song!

SJOKK choir leader Egil Heine Strand said: ‘For most of us this was our first time visiting Wales. The chance to spend time with other choir singers that share the same views and values was extremely special. Singing together is something that will stay with us for a long time.’

Despite wind and rain, the choirs spent Saturday morning busking in town.

The Morlan Centre was a far cosier location for the ‘Making Waves’ concert in the evening. Mayor Mari Turner opened the proceedings to a packed hall, stressing the importance of the arts and noting how singing can unite everybody, whatever their background, race or creed. The multilingual evening featured both rousing and moving songs, each with an important message.

During the weekend, well over £700 was raised for Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders) and Aberystwyth and Mid Wales Samaritans. Even more importantly, firm friendships were forged, with an agreed resolve to further international meetings.

Topics: Culture