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We can’t quite believe it’s almost a year since families and friends, including young children flocked to see Ariana Grande perform, never expecting the unimaginable terror that would unfold. Innocent lives lost, families, friends, emergency responders lives changed forever. How communities came together immediately after the event to show support and love was just incredible, from medical care and strangers offering beds for the night, to cabbies racing down the M62 to offer whatever help they could, and now a year on, a very special memorial event with unite us all again.
The Manchester Together – With One Voice event, from 7.30pm to 9 pm on Tuesday 22 May 2018, will see choirs come together in song to share the spirit of solidarity and remember all those affected by the Manchester Arena attack – culminating in a communal singalong for the final half hour from 8.30pm to 9pm with everyone encouraged to join in. The singalong element will be broadcast live on BBC Radio Manchester, meaning that anyone in Greater Manchester will be able to add their voices wherever they are.
A call-out is being issued to existing choirs and singing groups from Manchester, Greater Manchester and beyond, to perform in the event. Anyone who is interested in taking part should go to www.manchester.gov.uk/mcrtogether to register an interest by Monday 30 April 2018. The programme will be chosen to ensure it covers a range of musical genres and is as inclusive as possible.
A further music-related element called There Is A Light has also been announced – a projection of song lyrics onto St Ann’s Church in St Ann’s Square and other parts of the square during the nights of 22 May to 26 May inclusive. People are being invited to suggest lyrics, a single line from a song, which has a personal resonance for them. They can do this via www.manchester.gov.uk/mcrtogether with a closing date for suggestions of 4 May.
Families of the 22 who lost their lives in the attack and others seriously hurt, physically or psychologically, are being kept informed of plans are they develop and the families have been invited to choose lyrics which are close to their hearts.
Sir Richard Leese, Leader of Manchester City Council, said: “Music is in Manchester’s soul and it is only fitting that it should play a central part in marking what will be an emotional anniversary. We saw in the aftermath of the 22 May attack how spontaneous song captured the city’s spirit, its solidarity and refusal to give in to hatred. Coming together in song will once again demonstrate that remarkable sense of togetherness and we invite choirs who can help lead us in raising our voices to get in touch. It is a fitting way for us to honour those who went full of joy to a music concert but never came back, or saw their lives changed forever.
“Sharing powerful and poignant lyrics will also underline the city’s defiant spirit and help us collectively reflect on the events of 22 May, 2017 and their aftermath. In the words of Tony Walsh’s poem This Is The Place, which resonated with so many people in the dark days after attack, ‘We keep fighting back with Greater Manchester spirit. Northern grit, northern wit in Greater Manchester’s lyrics.’”
A Civic Memorial Service will be held at Manchester Cathedral earlier on Tuesday 22 May, from 2-3pm, attended by an invited congregation including the families of those who lost their lives, those injured, first responders, civic leaders and senior national figures. While space limitations mean the service to reflect on events of that terrible day and remember loved ones has to be invitation only, there will be opportunities for anyone to watch the service on a big screen in Cathedral Gardens. For those who cannot make it to Manchester, the service will also be screened at York Minster, Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral and Glasgow Cathedral.
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