Performed on 2nd December in St Mary’s church, Nottingham 2010 A project for Sideshow
Singing Uncertainty (background) The fragility of a longed for certainty
Singing Uncertainty continues the thread of an earlier work. In 1994 Locus+ commissioned the project ‘Skeleton’ for All Saints Church, Newcastle Upon Tyne. A principal element of this project was a hymn book that had been edited to show only the questions that were written in the hymns.
The hymn book was one remembered from my early school days where I found hymn singing in the daily school assembly a challenge. Many words were unfamiliar and I sang in some discomfiture, embarrassed and unsure of pronunciation yet still reflecting on what these words were saying. During the scrutiny of hymns for ‘Skeleton’ I was surprised to see that 147 of the hymns contained questions. Whilst many of the questions were rhetorical they did reflect a very human longing for certainty in a world that is uncertain. I found the collective narrative produced from these questions very moving. It also reflected my childhood memory of embarrassment and deep curiosity.
In 2004 I was commissioned to make a work for the Chapter House at Canterbury Cathedral. The resulting installation ‘Stamping Uncertainty’ was a further exploration of the questions. ‘Singing Uncertainty’ takes the work a stage further into the form of an a cappella choral work where each question is individually sung in the order that the question appears in the hymn book. The choir for this work will comprise singers drawn from the general public. Each question will be sung in it original musical notation. Song is brought from within us and expressed away from the body filling the air in which it mixes. I hope that ‘Singing Uncertainty’ will fill the space where it is performed with the fragility of a longed for certainty; a very human fragrance that, momentarily becomes the lungs and ears of the site.
On the 2nd of December 2010 in St Mary Church, Nottingham the 1st version of Singing Uncertainty was performed.
Sarah Ormanroyd, Paul Lewthwiate, Sarah Lewthwaite, Huijuan Xie, Caroline MacKeith, Juila Mills, Chris Syson, Julia Syson, Helen Crowder,Olivia Bamlett, Sarah Bamlett, Sam Wing, Marie Bertram, Russell Tanham, Claire Simpson, Roger Caney, Alison Darksus, Hugh Miller, Miriam Keye, Mark Ramsey, Murray Brown, Jaspreet Gill, Lucy Yates, Gail Evans, Rebecca Gamble, Nicola Linley, Jennie Syson, Su Ansell
Acknowledgements Rev Christopher Harrison, Rev Richard Davey, John Keys