The seeds of Wildfire Women's Choir were sown over 13 years ago. Inspired by the Eurydice women’s choir in Glasgow, Eileen Penman brought the idea of a singing group for women about women to Leith in Edinburgh. Eileen’s strong political and Scottish traditional folk music ethos were pivotal in the choir's early development. This has reflected the values of many of the women who have actively participated over the years.
The choir was initially based at the Communication Workers' Union premises in Brunswick Street and then moved to Leith Victoria Baths. Accessibility to all women prompted the move to its current base at Pilrig St. Paul's Church in Leith.
Why Wildfire ?
Originally called 'Songs of Freedom and Struggle', the name was changed to 'Wildfire' in 2000 after Eileen was inspired by the character of Madge Wildfire from Sir Walter Scott's novel 'The heart of Midlothian' during a story-telling walk in Holyrood Park.
"Once beautiful but "very giddy", Madge's mind has been "totally alienated" by mistreatment at the hands of others. Fundamentally goodhearted, if not always well-behaved, she befriends Jeanie Deans but is attacked by a lynch-mob in Cumbria and dies in hospital in Carlisle. The last of many snatches of songs she sings during the novel is the exquisite 'Proud Maisie."
Our second Song Leader, for about 5 years, was the wonderful Rachel Milne, who taught the choir great songs from many parts of the world, especially Africa. Rachel built the choir's confidence and encouraged the choir to perform in public at a number of community and charity events.
From May 2012, Wildfire had two Song Leaders sharing the role, Karen Dietz and Penny Stone - both first class musicians and well-known song leaders in and around Edinburgh. Now, in 2013, Karen Dietz has moved on to other choir and musical work commitments, but we will not lose touch and look forward to occasional Workshops with her. We thoroughly enjoyed the new energy and new songs she brought, during her time with us. We are very happy to continue working with Penny.
Over the years well over 100 women have sung with the choir. We've performed in public many times including :
May Day Parade
International Womens' Day events
100 year Suffragette March