Choirs come together in a unique celebration of the human voice

Barefoot Opera's performance  for Root 1066 SUS-160822-100429001Barefoot Opera's performance  for Root 1066 SUS-160822-100429001
Barefoot Opera's performance for Root 1066 SUS-160822-100429001

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A unique, one-off musical event involving seven choirs is taking place in Hastings in September as part of ROOT1066 Festival of Contemporary Art. Poets and spoken word artists have collaborated with composers from across the South East to create a musical '˜tapestry' of completely new choral commissions responding to the Bayeux Tapestry's narration of the great Battle of 1066.

Each of the seven choirs – over 250 voices in total - will be performing a unique piece, whilst the internationally renowned composer Orlando Gough, eminent in working with community choirs, and expert in bringing together different voice types, has composed an ambitious new piece especially for the event: this will be performed by all seven choirs singing together.

The event, which is produced by Barefoot Opera, will take place in the cathedral-like atrium of Sussex Coast College, and will be prefaced by choirs’ singing journeys to the atrium by train and from the seafront. This will take place on September 24 with performances at 4.30pm and 7.30pm at Sussex Coast College.

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Jenni Miller of Barefoot Opera said: “Hastings has a wide number of fantastic and diverse choirs, but never before have they all performed together. The idea was to draw them all together under the same roof and have them sing completely new music.”

The choirs encompass a range from well-established groups like Hastings Philharmonic and Sound Waves, to a completely new choir - Hastings Calling - created especially for the Clash! by musician Otti Albietz. The other choirs include Harmony 1, Vocal Explosion, Opera South East and Hastings Youth Choir.

This is a completely cross-generational event involving young singers who are more accustomed to performing pop music, to those more familiar with operatic and world music styles.

The poets involved include Jill Fricker, Frances Viner, Antony Mair, and Anne Rouse, while the composers include Karen Wimhurst, Frances Lynch, Kenneth Roberts, Juliet Russell, Otti Albietz and Marcio da Silva.

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There will also be two percussionists performing at the event - Liam Genockey and Emmanuel McDonald. Radiator Arts, whose talented team of artists and designers are well known for creating large scale community spectacles, (e.g. Walking with Fish) are leading on the visuals for the event. They have also recruited several illustration students from Sussex Coast College to work with them to produce several massive painted backdrops.

Jenny commented of the event, and what she is hoping to achieve: “I had the idea of bringing all these choirs together to sing something new in response to the Bayeux Tapestry, as I wanted Hastings to celebrate the human voice, and for many people to sing together who ordinarily wouldn’t, and for many kinds and styles of music to be relished and shared by the Hastings community.

“I also wanted us to experience the human voice without technical add-ons, as a raw, physical space-related experience.

Barefoot Opera, which is committed to promoting and improving singing at all levels, has put the choirs together, organised the commissions, composers and poets, facilitated developing the new choir, helped organise the rehearsals - in short, Barefoot Opera is in it up to the neck!”

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Tickets for both performances are available from and cost £7/£5 concessions.

Clash! is part of the ROOT 1066 International Festival, a festival of contemporary arts inspired by the 950th anniversary of the Battle of Hastings and funded by Hastings Borough Council and Arts Council England.

For all the latest news and information go to, like the Facebook page ‘ROOT1066’ or follow ‘ROOT1066’ on Twitter and Instagram.

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