Musical Bicycle Pilgrimage

In addition to the St Andrew’s Mystery Plays, I have a second shiny project for next summer: a musical bicycle pilgrimage.

The plan is to find some like-minded cycling musicians and visit various churches in East Anglia, Essex, and Cambridgeshire by bicycle. At each church we will put on a recital; the churches hosting us would keep any proceeds from the performance, but would need to put us up overnight (probably as guests in parishioners’ homes), and preferably provide supper and breakfast. Along the way I will also blog and tweet about the experience, and hope to gain plenty of positive publicity.

I play the horn, organ, piano, serpent, portable harmonium and nearly anything else that doesn’t put up too much of a struggle. If I carry an instrument with me, it will be the horn: the serpent is tempting, but would mean bringing the bicycle trailer, which is a whole extra layer of hassle. Perhaps I can convince Beloved to make a train journey with it, though.

I will choose repertoire exploring themes related to pilgrimage and journeys in general, or to local interests in each place we visit, and adapt a programme according to the resources of each venue where we perform: if there is a good organ or piano the opportunity to use it would be welcome, but in places where there is no instrument available we could sing a capella or I could play an unaccompanied Bach ‘cello suite on the horn. Others who have provisionally agreed to come along sing and play recorder or guitar, so there is scope for a more folk-oriented style if necessary (always to a very high standard, of course!). I would also like to record the performances, with the possibility of releasing an album of the better specimens after we get home, but this again depends on portability of equipment, and sorting out the various legal details.

I would like to do this in the last week or two of July 2014, or possibly last week of July to first week of August, though the roads can be pretty gruesome in August. I don’t think more than two weeks will be sustainable: performing every night (or nearly every night: one rest day per week seems a good idea) and cycling several hours per day is a big deal. I imagine there will be three or four of us at any given time. I am setting a maximum of six in order that we are not an excessive burden on the hospitality of smaller parishes. I hope to have all the dates sorted out by January so that we have plenty of rehearsal time, as well as bicycle training time.

If you are interested in hosting us at your church, please get in touch. You can e-mail me at artsyhonker at gmail dot com, or find me on Twitter. I’d love to hear from you!

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