West Sussex Voices will be enhancing the sound as Richard Navarro and his co-performer Nicholas Thurston return to Graffham’s Empire Hall, The Street, Graffham (tickets via www.empirehall.org.uk).
The choir will number around 20-30 as the duo take to the stage to explore a new set of songs on Saturday, October 8 at 7.30pm.
“Those voices give us the amazing energy of the singers that multiplies the energy of the performers,” Richard says. “It gives us amazing repetition. Some of it will be call and response. Some of it will be very much a wash behind what we are doing. It is very exciting. It picks up on the energy and the drive of each of the songs, and it is always good fun to work with other singers.
“We performed in Graffham a year ago last March, and we had a brilliant time. A lot of the songs then were from a previous album we had released. Now we are coming back with a whole new set of songs.”
They are songs the duo are about to record and anticipate releasing two or three at a time, with a view towards an album perhaps next year. In April this year, Richard launched the new collection to a packed audience at the Gulbenkian Theatre, Canterbury and is currently touring venues and festivals across the UK and Europe.
“We are looking to build the interest in the songs as we release them rather than dissipating our energy through an album.
“The new songs are all a fascinating and inspirational look at the amazing stories and people from the history of Canterbury where we live… the lesser-known history. Everyone knows about Becket and The Canterbury Tales. We wanted to look at some of the other more-forgotten heroes and heroines.”
One song was inspired by a plaque above a Canterbury café: “The plaque stated that the Mayflower had been leased there. We were intrigued by that. There was a man called Robert Cushman who became a member of the clergy and then rebelled and then started writing pamphlets about corruption in the church. He got thrown into prison… just opposite my house! Later on, he became involved with the Pilgrim Fathers and he became a key man in arranging the logistics of their ships. He gave the first-ever sermon given on American soil.”
Richard was also inspired by Princess Bertha and King Ethelbert. Bertha sailed from northern France, a Catholic entering an arranged marriage with the Anglo-Saxon King of Kent. The story goes that Ethelbert, a pagan and wanting no wizardry, wanted them to meet out in the open on the shore. They did so… and fell in love.
“The story goes that Ethelbert sort of converted to Christianity. The first church in Canterbury was created, and it went on to become Canterbury Cathedral.”
As for instrumentation, Richard explains: “I am a singer. I also play violin and keys and percussion. I have a sample pad. I have pre-programmed bits of soundscapes. There is a bit of an epic sound we create. Nicholas is on double bass and has also got foot pedals.”
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