Friday 30 October 2020

Echoes of Essex, exploring women composers, scientists and many more with Electric Voice Theatre's ambitious project

Electric Voice Theatre - Echoes from Essex

During lockdown Electric Voice Theatre, artistic director Frances M Lynch, and its sister company Minerva Scientifica have been working on an ambitious Echoes of Essex project the results of which are gradually going on-line with everything launching live on 30 October at the Echoes from Essex website. Whilst the project has involved exploring the work of Essex-based women composers past and present (of which there are quite a few), the project has stretched far beyond music into science as well.

Amongst the women from Essex that they have been researching and highlighting are Margaret Cavendish (1623-1673, Natural Philosopher, wrote the first science fiction novel), Elisabeth Tollet (1694-1754, lived in the Tower of London, communicated Isaac Newton's science through her poetry), Florence Attridge (1901-1975, worked at Marconi's during World War 2 and made secret spy radios) and many more. Through weekly Zoom events, many contemporary women joined the project as well.

Imogen Holst at her home in Aldeburgh, 1975 (© Nigel Luckhurst, 1975, Image provided by the Britten–Pears Foundation (, Ref: HOL/2/11/10/7)
Imogen Holst at her home in Aldeburgh, 1975
(© Nigel Luckhurst 1975, Image provided
by Britten–Pears Arts, Ref: HOL/2/11/10/7)
Musically, the project has been exploring a whole range of composers. Imogen Holst (1907-1984) had strong links with the Thaxted Festival as well as Benjamin Britten's Aldeburgh. Through the Holst Foundation and Britten Pears Arts the project was able to record three of Imogen Holst's unpublished a capella vocal works. Further information from the website. 

Contemporary composer, and Essex girl, Cheryl Frances Hoad has been commissioned for a new mini-opera, Thinking I Hear thee Call created specifically to work live on Zoom. The piece explores the life of Florence Attridge and the spy radios she made, with Frances M Lynch and Margaret Cameron plus an evocative electronic track which resounds with codes, voices, typewriters and electronic interference.

Other composers the project has been working with include Frances M Lynch, whose new work The superposition of state was recorded, Ethel Smyth (1858-1944), Nicola Lefanu, Elizabeth Maconchy (1907-1994), Eliza Flower (1803-1846), Elspeth Manders, and Avril Coleridge-Taylor (1903-1998, daughter of composer Samuel Coleridge-Taylor).

Do explore the Echoes from Essex website.

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