An innovative singing project revealing the stories of extraordinary Essex women in science will run throughout summer 2020. Chelmsford City Theatres have teamed up with electric voice theatre and the Essex Music Education Hub to create ‘Echoes from Essex’, a programme of events which celebrates some of the county’s remarkable women, past and present.
The centrepiece of the project, which is part of Essex 2020, is the Essex Virtual Choir which starts rehearsing this Wednesday. Anyone from Essex can take part and singers will learn and perform music inspired by women in science and created by British female composers. During rehearsals, participants will also have a chance to help shape these compositions, culminating in an exciting and unique performance at the end of September.
Choir rehearsals aren’t the only part of the festival starting this week. On Monday 27 July, a weekly show called ‘Soundings from Essex’ begins, giving a voice to brilliant women who should be better known. Over the course of eight weeks, science historian Patricia Fara will be joined by modern scientists to share music, art and conversation about the unsung science heroes of Essex.
The first episode features the dazzling Margaret Cavendish, the 17th century scientist, philosopher and poet, who was born in Colchester in 1623. Future episodes explore the achievements of Chelmsford radio pioneer Florence Attridge and aeronautical engineer Baroness Platt of Writtle.
Cllr Stephen Robinson, Leader of Chelmsford City Council, says wider recognition is long overdue: “The stories of these trailblazing Essex women deserve to be so much better known and we hope their achievements will be a source of huge pride in our county. This original and creative project is a great introduction to their work and will provide fantastic inspiration for anyone with an interest in combining science and the arts to tell amazing stories of local people.”
The festival has been created by the award-winning electric voice theatre, who have been bringing the stories of the UK’s forgotten female scientists to audiences across the country, and is part of ‘Minerva Scientifica’. Artistic Director Frances M Lynch says Essex women have made outstanding contributions to science: “Essex has so many amazing women past and present and it has been a privilege to discover their stories, which are the very opposite of the tedious stereotypes about Essex girls. Join us at a rehearsal, workshop or show this summer to find out more. All of our events are free, and you’ll have a chance to collaborate with some fantastic contemporary scientists, artists and musicians.”
The festival will also have events for children. Virtual songwriting workshops developed with the Essex Music Education Hub run from 3 August, giving pupils aged seven to nine across Essex the chance to create and record their own song. Chelmsford City Theatre’s artistic director Ian Knowles hopes this collaboration will fire the imaginations of a new generation of scientists:
“Echoes from Essex is a wonderful partnership, bringing so many disciplines together to enlighten and inspire. It seems appropriate that technology has allowed us to put on this festival even though the doors of our theatre are closed, and we hope that even more people can get involved than we had originally planned.”
Full details about ‘Echoes from Essex’, including details of how to join the Essex Virtual Choir, can be found on the Chelmsford City Theatres website. Episode 1 of ‘Soundings from Essex’ takes place tonight at 7pm.
Monday 27 July 2020