The Shell Classic International season began with Orchestra Mozart at the beginning of October, and SOS swung into action to bring a little more nuance to the corporation’s PR campaign.
Concert-goers taking their interval drinks in Festival Hall Bar were greeted by an upbeat chorus, snapping fingers as they sung close harmonies about the toxic legacies of Shell’s misadventures in the Arctic, the Niger Delta and Alberta.
Flashmob choir harmonise against Shell at Southbank Centre
1st March 2013
Interval interrupted at Shell Classic International concert, as ‘Shell Out Sounds’ sing their opposition to oil sponsorship.
On the evening of Friday 1st March 2013, a group of singers and musicians called ‘Shell Out Sounds’ (SOS) made an unexpected musical intervention at the Southbank Centre, during the interval of a Shell-sponsored performance by members of the Berliner Philharmoniker and guests. The 16-strong ‘flashmob choir’ sang a sombre version of ‘Down to the River to Pray’, the lyrics rewritten to depict the sadness and woe Shell inflicts on the world. The group handed out flyers to audience members, many of whom stopped to listen and applauded at the end of the song. The Southbank Centre security guards did not attempt to stop the surprise performance.
This was the first public performance by Shell Out Sounds. The new group brings together musicians and singers who are concerned about Shell sponsorship of the Southbank Centre. This is due to the oil giant’s significant contribution to climate change, its highly environmentally-destructive exploitation of the Canadian tar sands, its fracking operations around the world, its ongoing polluting activities in Nigeria and its controversial attempts to drill in the Arctic. The pop-up choir were all dressed in black with purple sashes, and sang from memory in three-part harmony. Each verse described the suffering of a community affected by Shell’s operations in Canada, Nigeria and Alaska, and concluded with the refrain“Oh, Shell, not your name; No more oil, no more pain; Oh, Shell not your name; Art not in your name!”. Continue reading →