It’s not your typical choral group.
Cork’s Sacred Harp Singers have been practicing the US folk tradition on Leeside since 2010 and this month they’ll be celebrating a whole decade of singing at the Tenth Annual Ireland Sacred Harp Convention (February 29th – March 1st, 2020).
Also referred to as ‘shape-note’ singing, Sacred Harp is a kind of loud and joyous harmonised cacophony of voices. Have a listen here:
To join in, all you need to bring is your very own Sacred Harp (don’t panic; it’s just a reference to the human voice) to a relaxed weekly session in the Unitarian Church on Princes Street on Thursdays, from 7pm to 9pm.
“Over the past ten years, the group gathering to sing every week in Cork has fluctuated, occasionally growing and occasionally shrinking.” says group member Laurie Skelton.
“Sometimes twenty people show up. Sometimes four. But the spirit has never wavered and the singing has never stopped.
“Singers are typically—though not required to be—untrained, and sing in their full voice. Some come to singing through generations of family tradition, while others simply fall into it.”
The community is small, the voices are big
No matter how small the group becomes, their numbers swell exponentially each year in March as hundreds of singers from all over the world show up to Cork for the annual Ireland Sacred Harp Convention.
The Ireland Sacred Harp Convention is one of the largest in Europe and draws quite the crowd of shape-note singers from all across Europe and North America. This year the schedule includes a Singing School with Sadhbh O’Flynn in St Maries of the Isle, Bishop Street, Cork and a full two-day convention at the same venue on Saturday, February 29th and Sunday, March 1st, 2020.
The sound is impressive and the atmosphere is both warm and welcoming. The best bit? Singing along is highly encouraged.