Norwich city choir project celebrates built heritage and history of immigration

By Richard Moss | 26 September 2012
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a photo of people walking through cloisters
Norwich Voice Project choir members at Singing The City in May.
Norwich's popular Voice Project Choir made its mark at this year's Norwich Festival by taking to the streets for a series of concerts that celebrated the city's rich built heritage. Now it is about to embark on a new project that will see it delve deeper into the city’s history as one of the earliest cosmopolitan cultural centres in Britain.

The beautiful East Anglian city can lay claim to be one of the earliest multicultural cities in the UK, with the first big influx of ‘strangers’ arriving in 1565 from the Spanish Netherlands as asylum seeking political refugees.

Welcomed as a valuable addition to the population, they proved to be a considerable boost to the burgeoning textile trade and at one point accounted for over a third of the city's population.

Flemish influences can be still be seen in the city's many medieval buildings and the Stranger's Hall stands as a physical reminder of the economic and cultural contribution they made to Norwich.

Now the popular community access choir, the Voice Project, is recruiting singers for a series of winter concerts called City of Strangers to celebrate this heritage by animating the city’s heritage sites whilst exploring themes of home and refuge.

“Singing The City at this year’s Norfolk & Norwich Festival was one of the most popular things we have done with the ancient streets around Elm Hill teeming with people and singers,” says Voice Project co-Director Sian Croose.

“After that we realised how much people enjoy celebrating their city so we wanted to create another project to do just that and welcome people to the choir’s “home” – the Friends Meeting House.”

There is a no-obligation taster session at the home of the Voice Project Choir, The Friends Meeting House on Tuesday October 9 at 7.30pm and  rehearsals begin on Tuesday the following week (October 16), culminating in three performances of City of Strangers on Saturday December 15 in and around The Friends Meeting House.


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