Establish by Sam Lee as his Foundling Fellowship project, this ‘open to all’ community choir was dedicated to revitalising communal singing, with political empowerment and a sonorous means to protest at its heart. Highlighting social and environmental injustice, Fire Choir built on the Museum’s centuries-old legacy of social change, campaigning and creativity. Singers tapped into the enormous and ancient international repertoire of songs rooted in social change, justice and emancipation. Material included folk songs, modern songs, anti-war songs, songs of resistance and struggle, the natural world, songs of love and lost worlds. A generous aspect of the Fire Choir repertoire was specially-commissioned from the perspective of contemporary communities struggling for a louder voice in society, written by some of the UK’s best songwriters and composers.
Fire Choir was led by Sam Lee as artistic director, alongside Blythe Pepino, Ben Crawley and Alex Etchart. The choir met weekly at the Museum over the course of 2018, taking their songs to the streets and performing two special concerts. Due to its committed following and passion of its members, Fire Choir continues to be run by The Nest Collective. For more information or to join visit their website.
Sam Lee is a singer and song collector, whose repertoire is steeped in folklore and history and inspired by the natural world. With a rich and resonant voice, he is also the founder and driving force behind the eclectic, award-winning folk club The Nest Collective, which has brought traditional music to all kinds of new stages and venues as well as engaging new and often younger audiences. Sam’s debut album, Ground of its Own was conceived after winning the prestigious Arts Foundation Prize in 2011 and nominated for the 2012 Mercury Music Prize. His second album, The Fade in Time (2015), has been equally feted with his version of the song Lovely Molly awarded Best Traditional Song at the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards 2016. As founder of a burgeoning song collectors’ movement, he has helped to inspire a new generation of performers to draw on living source singers, rather than just books and records.
The biennial Foundling Fellowship scheme was established in 2008 with funding from the Clore Duffield Foundation. For each cycle, three leading creative figures are selected to join the Fellowship. Twelve Fellows have been appointed to date and they are: Damon Albarn, Cerrie Burnell, Emma Kirkby, Michael Morpurgo, Cornelia Parker, Grayson Perry, Lemn Sissay, Yinka Shonibare MBE, Chris Watson, Julian Lloyd Webber, Richard Wentworth and Jacqueline Wilson.