Living without Life
Back in May, along with the customary joys of the season, came signs of Life returning. Among those, a return of larger-group music making, albeit limited to an outdoor setting. The highlight of that, starting to rehearse for a big pageant: Mayflower 400 (postponed from last year), due to be held today on Plymouth Hoe, with (apparently) capacity for a socially-distanced audience of 15000.
My involvement was in the chorus for a newly-commissioned work “Mayflower”, by Nick Stimson and Chris Williams. Five movements of Incidental Music to the story of the Mayflower. Rehearsals in May started in the Plymouth Argyle football stadium – an open-air venue with ample capacity for a large choir all well spaced out. I liked the venue a lot – particularly since it was an outdoor event we were rehearsing – though of course there’s no way a choir could afford it from our own budget! Life was indeed beginning to return.
The event itself was a lot bigger than just the music. It was conceived as uniting both sides of the Atlantic, including importantly members of the Wampanoag peoples who had lived on the land colonised. We were educated a little on the history – in a similar way to learning of The Real Macbeth before performing in that (Verdi’s opera) some years back. But not to the extent where I could tell you about it, or know more than the bare bones of today’s events. I was very much looking forward not just to my small role in it, but to being a spectator to the whole!
Then on June 16th, email telling us the event is cancelled. The return of life this summer was not to be. We continue to live on in unlife, a close relation to the undeath of fantasy literature. The promised “Freedom Day” next week will do nothing to bring back our lost music.
For the record, today is cold for July, overcast, and here we had a heavy thunderstorm earlier this afternoon. Plymouth – right on the coast – often escapes this kind of thing, so I’ve no idea what the weather might have added to the event. I understand there were indeed contingency plans for shelter (lots of canvas?), but it should’ve been lots of fun even if it meant getting soaked!