The Choir

The SOfa Choir is a virtual choir spanning oceans and welcomes singers of all abilities. The choir was set up in summer of 2020 when much of SO Festival's activity moved online due to the pandemic.

The choir is part of SOfa Festival’s partnership with PASSAGE which, in normal times, is an international street theatre festival that unites the Danish city of Helsingør and the Swedish city of Helsingborg.

Against the backdrop of a global pandemic, The SOfa choir has been a safe, nurturing and creative online space, to sing, improve wellbeing and connect with a growing community of singers across the seas.

"Lockdown has presented so many challenges for all of us but the SOfa Choir gave me some time for myself each week.

It was a chance to stop everything and immerse myself in doing something I absolutely love so it has been the highlight of my week.  I can’t believe how lucky I have been to be able to participate." - Participant Feedback


The Project

Between January and March 2021, The SOfa Choir ran a new project with a new theme and new ambitions: Tales Across the North Sea. In this project, participants worked with Sinfonia Viva composer Jack Ross and choir leader Caroline Swaby to create a brand-new folk song inspired by the Nordic ‘Selkie’ folklore – mythical tales of seals changing to human form by shedding their skin.

In workshop-style sessions, participants contributed ideas for lyrics and melodies which were beautifully brought together in an arrangement by Jack Ross. The song was underscored by Sinfonia Viva's grammy-nominated orchestra, and the choir were led by Caroline Swaby to wrap their voices around this beautiful new song. 

"Although it would have been wonderful to have been in the same venue singing alongside each other – coming together every week online has enabled us to bring together people who would not otherwise be able to collaborate together from different countries.

 Many have been isolated during the pandemic and, as well as experiencing the joy of collective singing, some great friendships have been forged." - Caroline Swaby, Choir Leader 


Myths, Legends and Folklore

The new song by The SOfa Choir entitled ‘The Selkie and the Sailor’ tells the story of how the Selkie rescues a shipwrecked sailor in the North Sea against a sky full of stars.

Other songs learned and recorded by the choir included Leave Her Johnny, a traditional sea shanty about leaving a boat after a long and difficult voyage, and Blooming Heather, a beautiful folk song about springtime in bloom.

"All the songs spoke something of our shared experiences of the pandemic, whether that's looking back on a difficult 'voyage,' looking ahead to better times, or celebrating our ability to transform and adapt amidst the waves of crisis."  - Hattie Coupe, Project Manager


The Music Video

The SOfa Choir wanted a video that offered something visually unique and the Lincolnshire-based theatre designer and puppet maker Ruth Pigott from Curiosity Creators created a six minute video using puppets and creative artwork. 

The Tales Across the North Sea creative project, organised in partnership with SO Festival and funded by Arts Council England and the Bergne-Coupland charity, has culminated in a recorded animated performance that is available to watch online free of charge.

Composer, Mix and Mastering Engineer

Jack Ross

Choir Leader

Caroline Swaby

Sound Capture

Dan Worrall

Music Video Animator

Ruth Pigott of Curiosity Creators

Choir Assistant 

Yasmin Mair

Project Consultant 

Melissa Hommel


In partnership with SO Festival and PASSAGE Festival, and funded by Arts Council England and the Bergne-Coupland Charity.