Sussex Chorus to open Fairtrade Festival

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Sussex Chorus will be opening the Fairtrade Festival on Saturday, March 2 with a performance of Haydn’s Nelson Mass at St Andrew’s Church, Burgess Hill starting at 7pm.

Fairtrade chairman Robert Eggleston said: “It is a great mass written when Haydn was at his peak and will be a grand opening to the Fairtrade Festival.

“It may seem an odd choice to start the fifth Burgess Hill Fairtrade Festival with a performance of Haydn’s Nelson Mass, but there is method in my madness!

“The Mass’ formal title – Missa in Angustiis – translates as ‘Mass for troubled times’. When Haydn wrote it, Napoleon was busily rolling up the map of Europe and it was only the power of the British navy that kept him in check. It was after Nelson’s victory at the Battle of the Nile (1798) that it acquired the nickname, Nelson Mass.

“But the Mass was essentially written to reflect the difficult days in which Haydn lived and we, of course, live in difficult times today. This Mass is an opportunity to reflect upon the world in the wonderful setting of St Andrew’s Church and think about how we can make a difference in it. Fairtrade is one simple way to make that difference.

“The Nelson Mass also came at a time when old orders were changing. Nelson was not an opponent of the slave trade but in 1807, two years after his death, the bill abolishing the transatlantic slave trade was passed into law. This country declared that it was no longer acceptable for people to be held in slavery.

“So on Monday. March 4 (8pm start) there is a showing of the Stephen Spielberg directed film Amistad at The Orion Cinema, Burgess Hill, starring Morgan Freeman, Nigel Hawthorne, Anthony Hopkins and Djimon Hounsou, plus a great cameo performance by Pete Postlethwaite). It deals with a true story of a slave mutiny on a ship and their subsequent trial in the USA in the 1830s.

“Dramatic and compelling it speaks of the need to treat all humans with dignity. You would think that slavery was a thing of the past. The sad fact is that human trafficking is big business which is why we wrap up this opening Festival theme with a discussion on the

modern slave trade. This is being held on Thursday, March 7 (7.30pm start) at The King’s Church, Burgess Hill and is led by Catherine Bearder MEP, Anti Slavery International and Stop the Traffik.”

Tickets for the Nelson Mass and Amistad can be obtained from the Burgess Hill help Point or Present Company or online at www.burgesshillfreedomfestival.com.