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Pictures: togetherness through music

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A weekend of music and singing brought more than 300 people together in peace and togetherness at St Laurence Church, Stroud Centre for Peace and the Arts on Friday and Saturday.

The Sacred Music festival kicked off with a stunning acapella concert from Get Gospel with favourite spiritual songs and covers of Bob Marley, Stevie Wonder and the inimitable Stormzy.

Saturday morning saw tots and toddlers singing joyful songs with parents and grandparents, led by Jo McAndrews, followed by the now iconic three-hour chant space. Organised and led by Chris Head, the chants began with contemplative Christian harmony chants from the Taizé community in France, flowing into songs dedicate to Earth, nature and water with singers, drums and shaker. To round off the morning, Thrisha Haldar and Asha McCarthy and fellow singers raised people’s spirits with sacred songs from India and Ireland.

PIZZE 07 24 11 | Pictures: togetherness through music
Mica Townsend

The headline concert on Saturday evening opened with the Green Room Collective, comprising six performers from India, Iran, Ukraine, Venezuela, Italy and Palestine. The musicians have all migrated from their original home for a variety of reasons, bringing emotional power to the set in spoken word, songs, tabla and strings. The virtuosic interplay of violin, guitar and oud held the audience spellbound until they burst into enthusiastic applause.

The festival culminated with a one-hour set by the Soumik Datta Trio with sarod, tabla and double bass. Soumik Datta himself (sarod) talked of how music is sacred to him through honouring his teachers, being aware of nuances of difference, and finding home through music. Tabla player Gurdain Singh Ryatt and double bassist Nina Harries brought sizzling rhythms and flair to the ensemble.

“Each one of these multi-talented, streetwise, transglobal performers of the Soumik Datta Trio and Green Room Collective would be worth spending an evening with, experiencing their solo work. The fact that we have nine of them collaborating so that we can witness the birthing of a new musical work of startling relevance is beyond value,” said Rev Simon Howell, originator of the festival.

“They collectively weave music, songs, spoken word and film to produce a magnificent tribute to resilience.”

Pictures by Simon Pizzey

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