(Bradford-on-Avon Tithe Barn, July 12-13, 2013)

Bath Chronicle, July 17 (2013)

A new suite of song texts performed in a Wiltshire tithe barn by an inexperienced community choir and a group of schoolchildren? Why should you be interested? Even when it is played as a companion piece to Benjamin Britten’s famous “Noye’s Fludde”.

But when the composer is Harvey Brough (remember Harvey and the Wallbangers?), when the theme of Noah’s Flood is updated to reflect the effects of global warming, and when the compelling music and powerful message bring tears to eyes of the singers as well as the audience, maybe it’s time to sit up and take notice.

I can only speak from the inside. I was one of the amateur singers who kept missing notes because of the lump in my throat, despite the familiarity of rehearsal. We played the part of a coach party, awed by the sight of a village drowned in a reservoir, overcome by the thought that climate change could soon produce many such villages, squabbling over whether such climate change is real – all to the driving beat of an upwelling, soul-wrenching score.

Music can convey a message that words alone cannot. As a scientist, I have been working to get the message of “Ona’s Flood” over to government officials and the public for some time. Here, the music drives it home, in a way that swings between the gut-tearing and the uplifting. It certainly lifted us as a choir, and the effect on the audience seemed electric. Unfamiliar music and a controversial theme seldom make quite such an impression. If the thoughtful looks and animated conversation of the audience as they left are anything to go by, it is an impression that will last. If you ever get the chance to hear a repeat performance (not necessarily by us), don’t miss it.

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