Last spring, wandering around the building site, a sound caught my attention. Lost in the noise of diggers and concrete mixers, forklift exhausts, kanga hammers, drills and shouting, I heard someone singing. One of the women in the site canteen was singing to herself whilst preparing for the day. Hearing a tiny single voice in the midst of this chaos made me stop. There are two thousand people from fifty-nine different countries working here, so it is easy to lose sense of the individuals that make up the horde in high viz jackets and hard hats. When, in a moment a single voice reminds you of that in a strange and compelling language, it understandably holds your attention. Bristol city centre is host to a vast international temporary community. The idea that to build Cabot Circus required the contribution of such a multinational workforce was something that intrigued and excited me. I wanted to make work that celebrated this hidden itinerant community and to explore ways it might influence and add to the richness of the city as a whole. Standing outside the canteen listening to Eva sing was the moment an idea began to take shape. My immediate thought was to collect songs from the site in all languages as the basis for a project. But what I had in mind would not have been possible without the close collaboration of David Ogden. Together we developed what has become the Cabot Circus Cantata. After days of collecting, David and the City of Bristol Choir began months of transcribing and learning the songs in all their different languages. The intention was for the full choir to return to the building site and perform each song in turn for the workforce.
Published on Mar 22, 2010