At the end of June 2006 eighteen Newcastle People's Chorus singers and three singers from other union choirs, plus three partners (a total of 24 people), left Australia's shores and toured the UK and Ireland. The event took two years to organise with first steps towards it being taken in 2004. It was a great experience for all concerned and facilitated taking the union choir repertoire to new, large and enthusiastic audiences. Most of the group departed Australia on 29 June and arrived in London on 30 June 2006. One other singer from another union choir, who was already in the UK, joined the team over there. That made a total of 22 singers. Marie Inzitari was our conductor.
Summary of events on the tour
Saturday 1 July - performances at St Albans Folk Festival. After our rehearsal on Sat morning we went to St Albans, a lovely ancient town about an hour out of London to the North West. Singaround session was 12.15 to 2.00pm in The Blue Anchor Pub, Fishpool Street, not far from the station. At 1 pm we performed a few songs as pre-publicity for our Cafe Nes gig. Cafe Nes was only a short walk from the station. We had a 30 minute outdoor spot there 3-3.30pm, singing 7-8 songs. This was followed by a singing session at the old pub from 5pm to 7pm. Open slate.
Sunday 2 July - Croydon Folk Club at Ruskin House, Croydon, South London, performance of 22 songs plus a meeting with Rick Lloyd of the original "Flying Pickets" who wrote the song "Remember This".
Monday 3 July - Narrow boat ride down the middle canal stopping at the Carpenters Arms Pub at Slapton, Buckinghamshire. An impromptu lunch time singing session.
Monday 3 July - The Red Rose Club, Islington, London, evening performance with Strawberry Thieves, and Velvet Fist choirs, including a marvellous rendition of the "International" by all choirs.
Tuesday 4 July - Cecil Sharp Centre, Camden Town, London - Sharps Folk Club impromptu performance by part of the Chorus.
Thursday 6 July - Grey's Monument performance (televised), Newcastle on Tyne. Organised by the unions of the district.
Thursday 6 July - official civic reception at Mansion House by the Lord Mayor of the City of Newcastle on Tyne.
Friday 7 July - Durham Rugby Club performance. Organised for us by the unions of the district. Chorus member John Day died after this event.
Saturday 8 July - Durham Miners Gala, Durham. A performance among 80,000 people. Organised for us by the unions of the district.
Wednesday 12 July - Teachers Club, Parnell Place, Dublin, Ireland. A performance with the Dublin Peoples College Choir. Organised by the Dublin Trades and Labour Council.
Friday 14 July - Cobblestone Pub performance in Dublin, full concert of 22 songs to a packed and appreciative audience. Followed by a traditional pub session.
Sunday 16 July - Tolpuddle Festival, Dorset - performance of a few songs in the presence of Billy Bragg.
Sunday 16 July - evening flights back to Australia for most of the singers except those few lucky ones who had organised further exploration of Europe.