The Sandalphon John Philip Sousa
Hitting back at the misguided view that the homeless have little or nothing to offer society, the Streetwise Opera and a number of other homeless and ex-homeless performers brought their talents to the Royal Opera House for a sold-out performance last night (Monday, July 2).
The event, With One Voice, was part of the London 2012 festival and was the first time that homeless people had their voices heard at an Olympic games.
The Streetwise Opera was formed by opera critic Matthew Peacock. Working as a volunteer in a homeless shelter, Peacock arrived at the conclusion that the restoration of pride was just as important, if not more so, than blankets and shelter.
The Streetwise Opera now runs a weekly music programme in 11 homeless centres across England.
Also on the bill was Vita Nova, a Bournemouth-based theatre company that works with recovering addicts. They were represented by Andrew McCutchion, Paul Hawkins and Jane Cartwright who performed a number of poems.
Other acts on the line-up included Newcastle’s Recovery Rocks choir, the GISDA Theatre Group from Wales and Veteran Voices – three ex-servicemen who fell into difficulties after being discharged from the armed forces.
Lending his support to the event, Mayor Boris Johnson last year said: "The Olympic and Paralympic Games offer a unique platform to celebrate a vast range of talents and I am proud that for the first time this will include those who have been homeless at some point in their lives.
"As we strive to end rough sleeping in London, it is important that we recognise and champion the creativity of those who have experienced life on the streets, which is precisely what Streetwise Opera and its fantastic programme of events seeks to do."