The Voice Project is a Norwich phenomenon – a large secular choir of enthusiastic amateur singers led by professional performers and tutors. Travels in Light is the third work in a trilogy of pieces about sleep, dreaming, waking and the bits in between.
The work is directed with characteristic ambition by Jonathan Baker and Sian Croose and involves the 150-strong choir performing in three venues in close succession, shepherding their equinumerate audience with them.
There are a number of themes that run throughout the work and give an aural background to the constant movement that accompanies the singing. The first of these themes seems hard to determine until you revert to your familiarity with the structure of Middle English, if you have it.
Jon and Sian have composed much of the music for the work, which includes their adaptations of familiar poetic works from diverse authors including Robert Frost, Emily Dickinson and RS Thomas amongst many others. The works are gentle and cerebral and perfectly suited to the long acoustic of the three religious buildings we visit.
The first is St George’s Tombland, still in use as a church, then we moved to St Peter Hungate, for many years a museum devoted to brass rubbing and other clerical ephemera, then across the road to the impressive chapel of the United Reform Church on Princes Street. It is a rare delight to be able to visit these venues, particularly St Peter Hungate which is not open as much as it should be.
The three buildings share an original purpose in that they were built to sing in, and the contrast in a short time frame between the three different acoustics is fascinating. We are conducted between the venues by the elegant Simon Floyd, who manages to combine the dignity of a funeral usher with the style of an airline steward explaining the emergency exits by gesture alone. Simon also contributes a spoken performance of ‘The Changing Light’ by Lawrence Ferlinghetti.
Although the choir is large, there is no hiding place for the singers as they file through and around the audience, allowing us to hear individual voices clearly and to compare and contrast both the voices and their interaction with the church interiors. The logistics of moving a large group of people around quickly and quietly worked surprisingly well, even in the face of an impatient car driver or two wanting to assert their immediate right to charge up Princes Street.
The choir gave three performances in succession throughout Saturday evening, and from a chat afterwards with one of the performers I could see that the choir had enjoyed this stimulating experience just as much as we in the audience had. On a very chilly evening the length of the show at just over an hour was just right, leaving us with a clear understanding of the capabilities of the performers while still ready for more.
Sian and Jon were joined by Soprano Sianed Jones, Tenor Jeremy Avis and Soprano Lisa Cassidy with Adrian Lever on piano, organ and hammer dulcimer, a nice touch in the church acoustic. Voice Project performances are always stimulating, and this was no exception, a delightful bonus for a cold Saturday night in January. Look out for their next incarnation – if you cannot wait for another Norwich show they are reinstating their festival show ‘The Arms of Sleep’ at the 2018 Brighton International Festival. More information from www.voiceproject.co.uk
© Julian Swainson 2018
Read our original article here: http://norwicheye.co.uk/whats-on/would-you-like-to-travel-in-light/