How to Sing in the Street: In History and Practice

Thursday 12th May 2022, 5pm - 7pm 29-31 Coney Street
An 18th century colour illustration showing a woman singing in the street.


BBC New Generation Thinker Oskar Jensen and acclaimed singer Vivien Ellis come together for an evening exploring what it meant to sing on the streets of York and London in centuries past. Drawing on long-lost, first-hand accounts of street singers, Oskar takes the audience through the art and adventures of the ballad-singer, the challenges they faced, the techniques they used, and the hidden musical histories their stories reveal. Together, Oskar and Vivien explore the songs published by C. Croshaw of Coppergate, before Vivien leads the audience through several of his best songs that still resonate today. You'll come away, not just with a new sense of history, but – just maybe – a new side to your own singing too.



Oskar Jensen is a historian, author, and songwriter. He is currently a Senior Research Associate in Politics at the University of East Anglia, working on the project, about protest songs in England from 1600 to the present day. From October he will be a NUAcT Fellow at Newcastle University. His last book was The Ballad-Singer in Georgian and Victorian London; his next, out this June, is Vagabonds: Life on the Streets of Nineteenth-Century London.


Singer Vivien Ellis draws on her work as a performer of early and folk music, and a community music leader, to create enjoyable, social, relaxed, historically informed, and inclusive singing events with people of all ages and experiences.


Vivien has performed early, traditional, and new music with groups including The Dufay Collective, The Broadside Band, The Mellstock Band, Sinfonye, The Carnival Band, and the duo Alva. She has appeared in seasons with The Royal Shakespeare Company and Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre, and her voice has featured on radio, film, and TV. She has toured throughout the UK and Europe, North and South America, Canada, and Australia, appearing in major festivals and concert series. She has made numerous recordings as a soloist, including 'Cancionero', a program of early Spanish music with The Dufay Collective, which was nominated for a Grammy Award.

Vivien also works extensively as an educator and community music leader with a wide range of groups, alongside being a part-time care worker. Since 2014 she has worked with a user-led charity, The Mental Fight Club, based in the London Borough of Southwark, where she has led a free, drop-in singing group, The Dragon Café Singers, supporting health and wellbeing through singing and song-writing. Vivien has developed new models of community music engagement drawing on early & folk music, including 'ballad walks', and has created a new model of GP education in arts and health, on which she co-wrote a paper, ‘Creating Health’, for the journal of the Royal Society for Public Health.


Booking information

This event is free to attend, but booking is required.


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