Harold Hill Complaints Choir puts residents’ gripes to song

They say that things are better out in the open and now a choir is making it even easier for people to air their complaints by setting their moans to the sound of music.

The Harold Hill Complaints Choir based in Exchange Studios in Petersfield Avenue was set up to give residents an alternative way of voicing their problems in the area.

Organiser of the choir, Sarah Walters said: “I think it is good because it is a way of getting people talking and it is not just about people sitting around the table or writing to their local councillors but it is peaceful and less aggressive.”

The choir was started by Sarah three months ago after she was inspired by a trip to Finland where she met composers Tellervo Kalleinen and Oliver Kochta Kalleinen, who helped to set up the first complaints choir.

In June, Sarah invited residents to send in their complaints, which ranged from gripes with the council, housing issues and gangs outside of the Hilldene Shopping Centre.

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The lyrics of the song were then composed using all of the complaints before the choir master David Di Blasio came up with a piece of music for the lyrics.

Sarah said: “I really like the song because it has really important things in it but there is a bit of humour and it is quite fun.

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“Its good because you don’t even have to be able to sing, it just builds your confidence and it builds community spirit.”

Complaint choirs first started as an idea by artists Tellervo Kalleinen and Oliver Kochta Kalleinen as a community art project inviting people to sing about their complaints in a choir.

The first choir started in Birmingham in 2005, but have now spread to places like Toronto and Helsinki.

The Harold Hill Complaints Choir performed for the first time at the Harold Hill Festival but are hoping to set up a special performance in front of councillors.

Sarah said: “The performance was nerve racking but it was fun.

“I like the idea of us performing to the councillors and then afterwards having a question and answer session with them because that’s the whole idea of the project.”

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