Even You Song - a new work for choirs
On July 15th Kings Lynn Minster will host the performance of Even You Song, a new work for choirs devised by artist Bettina Furnée, poet Lucy Sheerman and composer Cheryl Frances-Hoad based on Choral Evensong. We talk to Lucy and Bettina about what we should expect and their inspiration for the project….
In a nutshell what is Even You Song?
It is a new choral work to the format of Evensong based on the candid responses from a series of interviews with twelve Peterborough couples about a potential trip to the moon. Lucy wrote the libretto and we commissioned composer Cheryl Frances-Hoad to set it to music. It will be performed by Director of Music Jane Wells with the Even You Song Choir, Kings Lynn Minster Organist and Director of Music Adrian Richards and around 60 Kings Lynn school children - all against a background of digital projections created by Bettina.
So, something quite special then. Where did the idea come from?
We met at an artist’s lab with arts organisation Metal Peterborough which explored digital projects and discovered we both had an interest in space and the moon. We visited Evensong at the Cathedral there and were really inspired. We see a strong connection between the uplifting design of church architecture, the music of Even Song and the contemporary preoccupation with the idea of travel into space. We thought a lot about a callout by the Mars Foundation to mature couples. They invited them to apply to travel to Mars together. We used this idea to shape our callout and interview questions.
What is Choral Evensong: Evensong is a service that goes back to the earliest days of the Church. It takes place at Kings Lynn Minster every Sunday at 6.30pm. It’s an incredibly beautiful thing to listen to – especially in such a magnificent setting as the Minster. Although primarily Evensong is a religious service, it is about coming to terms with the end of the day and maintaining hope for the next day to come. We realised this had real synergies with the discussions we were having with our interviewees, the way in which a long-term relationship asks you to learn from the past and to keep thinking about the future.
Why are you bringing Even You Song to Kings Lynn in July?
We were really keen to work with the Kings Lynn Festival as this year they are celebrating the fiftieth anniversary of the first moon landings. They’ve got a fantastic line up of events with scientists, astronomers and special commissions. 15th July is the closest date we could find to the launch of Apollo 11 (it took place the following day) - perfect as people will be able to decide during the performance whether they would want to make this imaginary journey to the moon! King's Lynn Minster is one of the last churches in this part of East Anglia to sing full choral Evensong, part of our unique national heritage. And it is a simply stunning church, so we were thrilled when they agreed to host the performance and, of course, it has a beautiful medieval moon clock too.
Where do you start creating something like this?
We used the newspaper, magazines, social media and some of our partners networks, asking couples to come forward. We interviewed 12 diverse couples of all ages. Some couples were really excited at the prospect of such a trip – seeing it as an opportunity to become closer and experience something new, others worked out they might not make it. There were some incredibly personal and powerful statements shared by the people we interviewed. These voices are at the heart of the new libretto.
It sounds like quite a big project. You must have had a team working with you:
Yes, we have had a really special team of individuals and partners who have helped bring this together.
Cheryl Frances-Hoad is an international award-winning composer of instrumental and vocal works who has been composing to commission since she was fifteen. She has set the libretto to music. Jane Wells is Director of Music and has been rehearsing Even You Song with the Even You Song Choir of local singers, Minster Organist, Adrian Richards and a choir of young people drawn from St Martha's, Tilney All Saints, Anthony Curton and West Lynn primary schools . Lucy Farrant, Director of Young Norfolk Arts, has helped bring it all together. Peggy Hughes and Chris Gribble at the National Centre for Writers are helping us to commission a brand new piece of writing by the award-winning poet Vahni Capildeo specially for the performance.
When does it take place and how do people book?
It is on Monday 15th July, 6.30pm at Kings Lynn Minster. You can book via the festival's website www.kingslynnfestival.org.uk or by calling the box office on 01553 764864. Tickets are £14 (£7 concession) for which you also get to take home a printed copy of this unique libretto.
Even You Song Tour of East Anglia 2019 (King’s Lynn, Kingston, Cambridge, London) has been generously supported by:
Arts Council England, Young Norfolk Arts, King’s Lynn Festival, Norfolk Music Hub, Cambridgeshire Music Hub, National Centre for Writing and Wysing Arts Centre.