Sunday, March 17, 2013

A musical birthday

Mary Wollstonecraft's 254th birthday will be celebrated by Chorus of Dissent and the Elastic Band, "featuring music performed in London during her lifetime".

The venue is Stoke Newington, in her day a village known for its Quakers, just as Newington Green, where she had her school a mile away across the fields, was associated with the Rational Dissenters, now Unitarians. The difference is that Stokey was the centre of the Church of England parish: it had St Mary's. In the eighteenth century this was still the little medieval building, but the sprawl of the metropolis a century later necessitated the construction of a Victorian barn (unusually, directly opposite its predecessor). Now St Mary's Old Church is on the way to becoming an arts venue, and St Mary's New Church appears to be thriving.

The tickets have not yet been released, but pencil in 5:30 pm on Saturday 27 April 2013 for a "delightfully short concert from Stoke Newington’s very own choir and professional orchestra". We are promised "scenes from Handel’s Messiah ... juxtaposed with Haydn’s Creation, the whole presented in our inimitable and inclusive Dissenting style". And who are these singers?
Dissenters was set up by Ruth Whitehead to offer local, inclusive and excellent creative arts experiences, without one iota of dumbing down. Drawing on her background as a professional musician she set up Chorus of Dissent and the professional orchestra, the Elastic Band. All Dissenters’ events are sponsored by her company Ruth Whitehead Associates, your local investment advisers and IFAs.
Lots more about Chorus of Dissent on their website. Here's how they began:
The 21st Century Dissenters gathered under an urban apple tree in the garden of a Thomas Cubitt house in Albion Road, Stoke Newington London N16, to discuss following in the footsteps of the local nonconformist heritage. Shamelessly leaning on our distinguished history of freethinkers, philanthropists and artists, from famous feminist writer Mary Wollstonecraft to Champagne Charlie (musical hall artist George Leybourne), Dissenters London N16 came into being.

Photo of the two St Mary spires 
by Tarquin Binary via Wikimedia Commons, 
used under Creative Commons share-alike licence.

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