Photo © Phil Sayer
In March 2020, the choirs fell silent, just as Norwich’s multi award-winning Voice Project had planned to start rehearsing a new show. Arc of the Sky takes its inspiration from Holy Trinity Church, Blythburgh and the landscape it sits in, the Blyth estuary and the nearby coastline. The 130 strong choir planned to present the work, exploring themes of flight, perspective, scale, solitude and connection, in the 15th century ‘Cathedral of the Marshes’, in July.
Of course it couldn’t happen quite like that. Plans were quickly adapted to take the rehearsal process online, working with filmmaker Nathan Clarke and art director Sal Pittman to create a lasting record of the piece. The resulting 30-minute film will premiere at The Shoe Factory, St. Mary’s Works, Norwich on 2, 3 and 4 October with 3 screenings each day. Each screening will be introduced by Voice Project Co-Directors Sian Croose and Jonathan Baker with the audience for each limited to 45 people to ensure safety and effective social distancing.
‘Rather than use the film as a substitute for live performance we hope we have embraced the format and created something unique and lasting. I’m personally very excited by it’ said Sian.
‘The necessity of taking rehearsals online meant that we could involve choir members from around the country and overseas as well as locals. We had a strong contingent of people from Brighton who we collaborated with at our 2018 Brighton Festival performances and others from mainland Europe’ added Jonathan.
During the online rehearsals choir members filmed and recorded themselves. The creative team then assembled the film as a choral chronicle of the spring and early summer of 2020. Arc of the Sky features music written by Jon Baker, Orlando Gough and Sian Croose, with texts by British and American poets including Emily Dickinson, Stephen Watts, Wendell Berry, Jane Draycott and George Szirtes.
The Arc of the Sky film is a new area of exploration for The Voice Project, renowned for their innovative approach to choral performance. Their combination of music, poetry and choreography gives audiences unique, uplifting experiences. Filmmaker Nathan Clarke has filmed footage featuring Jonathan Baker and Sian Croose in and around Holy Trinity Church, making full use of the innate beauty of the building and its surroundings, to create a stunning celebration of the location.
See a short trailer for the film here https://youtu.be/e3q7dWL7FsM. As well as the film screening the dates will also feature a promenade video gallery featuring montages with artistic treatment by Sal Pittman.
Founded by experienced singers and artists Sian Croose and Jonathan Baker in 2008, The Voice Project Choir is open to all. It’s a true open access community choir in the most literal sense, absolutely anyone can join whether they have any experience of singing and music or not. There are no auditions and everything is taught by ear with no need to read music. Despite this their performances are produced to exacting professional standards. They perform music that is specially written for them by internationally-renowned composers and present it in innovative ways to create spectacular events that live long in the memory.
The Voice Project is an education charity that also runs regular courses in singing for people of all abilities. For full details of all their activities visit www.voiceproject.co.uk
The Arc of the Sky film screening (no cert)
The Shoe Factory at St. Mary’s Works, St Marys Plain Norwich NR3 1QA
Friday October 2 and Saturday 3 at 7:00 pm, 8:15 pm and 9:30 pm
October 4 at 5:00 pm, 6:15 pm and 7:30 pm
Tickets are £5 / £10 Donation Rate (limited to 45 per screening)
Available to purchase from www.voiceproject.co.uk