An Aberdeen-born campaign to “bring the world together in song” has received backing from hundreds across the globe – including actress Dame Judi Dench.
The Oscar, Olivier and Bafta winner has announced her support for the iSing4Peace project, which is raising money for four causes.
Spearheaded by north-east singer Fiona Kennedy, scores of people have added their voices to a special recording of Stronger For The Storm.
The piece was created by Aberdeen University composition professor Paul Mealor, lyricist Grahame Davies and Kennedy, and also features The Royal Scottish National Orchestra, an 82-year-old services veteran, an NHS doctor and a sign-language choir.
It has now been released as a charity single, in aid of the The British Red Cross, The Royal Commonwealth Ex-Services League (RCEL), VSA and the university’s development trust.
Dame Judi, whose extensive catalogue of work includes James Bond, Cabaret and Shakespeare In Love, has recorded a message of support for the project.
“During these really challenging months we’ve all needed some kind of lift to our lives,” she said.
“And music and the arts can do that.
“It’s in a limited form at the moment – but it can do it.
“And so, in order to help us all, let’s try and make a difference.”
Composer Burt Bacharach, whose extensive discography includes Dionna Warwick’s Alfie and Aretha Franklin’s I Say A Little Prayer, described Stronger For The Storm as “a beautiful song with a strong message for these times”.
Fiona Kennedy said: “When we began, we hoped that people would embrace Stronger For The Storm in the spirit it was intended – to unite with a common purpose during these continuing challenging times.
“The response has been truly remarkable
“To have stars of the calibre of Dame Judi Dench, Burt Bacharach and Sir Willard White recording messages of support for our global community choir is inspirational.
“But most important are the many extraordinary people from all over the world who have taken time out of their busy lives and jobs to rehearse and perform to become an integral part of this song, which I hope is full of hope.”
The iSing4Peace project was launched by Kennedy and Aberdeen University in June with an aim to bring people together at a time when the pandemic meant opportunities for performing were severely limited.
It followed the successful iPlay4Peace initiative, which was partly led by the university’s Neil McLennan, but only focused on instruments.
Organisers say the project has captured the imaginations of people from almost every continent – only excluding Antarctica – with submissions from hundreds used in the final composition.
Royal composer Prof Mealor, who earned a Christmas number one single in 2011 with the Military Wives Choir, said: “Each person who has performed Stronger For The Storm has added their own style and brought their own story, which has enriched the song with musical flavours from around the world.
“It has been wonderful to see this grow from a concept developed right here in Aberdeen, developing on the international stage and attracting backing from some huge names in the arts industry.”