Archive: Singing for 800 years of freedom

Archived piece: Appeared on the Making Music website in July 2012.

A performance by the massed choirs called Ebor Vox, or the Voice of York, formed the climax of the celebrations of Charter Weekend exactly 800 years since King John signed the Charter of the city on the 9 July, 1212.

Just after six o’clock, the carillon of York Minster struck the first notes of the specially composed piece by Benjamin Till, This York, and the atmosphere was set as haunting voices began to join in from the square below with a driving beat from local drummers.

Nine choirs paraded through the city before massing together beside Clifford’s Tower for the final performance. Each choir had learnt a section of the piece, and as they joined the parade at points throughout the route, the music and harmonies could be heard to gradually build as the flow of people moved through the city.

Making Music members the Chanticleer Singers were positioned at St. Helen’s Square to join the parade. Sid Taylor, the choir’s Chairman, felt that the effect was impressive. ’Before the day, we weren’t sure how it would work. But as singers, I think you’re often just a cog in a machine; it’s the composer who has the overall vision; and that’s just what happened – on the day it sounded great, and it all came together.’

This York was set to words written by local residents, including children. The musical celebration continued throughout the evening with other local choirs, including the York Male Philharmonic Choir and Soon Amore, providing a selection of music from the last 800 years. Watch the YouTube video from the York Press capturing the festival’s atmosphere.

’It’s a unique event,’ said Sid Taylor of the Chanticleer Singers. ’It was great fun, and really enjoyable, and even though just a small group of us went along, we were very glad we did. As a small chamber group, it’s not often that we get the chance to sing with such a large number of people. We’re lucky that in 2012, we are also participating in the Verdi’s Requiem – it’s one of those years when things come together!’

Celebrations in York continue throughout the year as part of the York 800 festival.

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