MANCHESTER - Women of different faiths in the British city of Manchester have come together to celebrate religious songs and boost interfaith relations between a variety of faiths, including Hindus, Buddhists, Christians, Sikhs, Jews and Muslims.
It's very unusual to be singing other people's sacred music and there's nothing like the feeling that comes from that, Choirmaster Beth Allen told BBC on Monday, July 1.
I knew it was going to be amazing because I am interested in language. Yet singing other people's material that belongs to their culture, history, souls and hearts has been beautiful.
The choir, titled Sacred Sounds, includes seventy women from six faiths.
Coming together in Manchester, the choir was formed three months ago to perform for the first time next July 7 at the city's Bridgewater Hall.
Having no choral experience, the members of the choir were offered help by Reshmi Dave, a trained singer who represents the Hindu faith, who has never sung in large groups.
Hindus don't normally have what is known as choir singing, so I was excited about taking part and getting my friends to join, she said.
I didn't know there were so many songs in other faiths. When we wore our saris and did our first performance using a Jewish song, I thought that was brilliant.
Inspired by a previous project called Sacred Sites - a celebration of religious chants in Christian, Hindu, Islamic, Jewish and Sikh sites of worship across Manchester, the project was created as part of the Manchester International Festival.
It is part of Manchester International Festival's summer program, which will be running from 4 - 21 July 2013.
The choir will be premiering If Ye Love Me, a piece composed especially for them by maestro Sir John Tavener.
John Tavener has been inspired by faith throughout his career and recently, has perhaps taken a more universalist philosophy towards his work, said Jennifer Cleary, Manchester International Festival's creative director.
He wrote a meditation on the 99 Names of Allah or God in Islam, and he'll be premiering a piece inspired by the tale of Krishna, a Hindu god, at the festival this year.
So we approached him about writing a piece specifically for this choir, which he was really excited about, she added.
The new choir was praised as a representative of Manchester's multi-faith tolerance.
We knew that Manchester is cohesive. Yet to experience it and confirm it is a wonderful feeling, retired teacher and choir member Asha Buch said.
Many of us in the choir can't read western musical scores, so it's sung to us.
Hindi and Punjabi Sikh chants don't have notation, so Beth makes up a dot notation for everybody, she said.
Britain is home to a sizable Muslim minority of nearly 2.7 million.
A recent report by the Institute for Social and Economic Research at the University of Essex found that Muslims are the most likely of all groups to be identified with the concept of Britishness.'
Last year, think tank Demo found that Muslims in the United Kingdom are more patriotic than the rest of population.
Responding to the statement I am proud to be a British citizen, 83% of Muslims said they are proud of being British.
The percentage came higher than average across the population which scored only 79%.
Reproduced with permission from OnIslam.net