'Floating in Brindley's Dreams' is musical celebration. 2016 marks the 300th anniversary of legendary canal engineer James Brindley’s birth. It is also the 250th anniversary of the cutting of the first sod in the construction of the Trent and Mersey Canal, Brindley’s greatest achievement. On July 26 in that year in Stoke-on-Trent, Josiah Wedgwood wielded the silver spade to cut the turf, and Brindley put it in a wheelbarrow. They took it back to Burslem and partied mightily.
The Heritage Lottery Fund has funded theatrical composer Greg Stephens to help coordinate the celebrations of Brindley’s life and legacy. Part of the project has involved researching, writing and developing songs, with schools, choirs and other community groups and volunteers in N Staffordshire. The result of this is “Floating on Brindley’s Dreams”, a musical celebration of Brindley’s achievements. The first performance will be at the Live age Festival in the Potteries Museum and Art Gallery, Hanley, Stoke-on-Trent, on Saturday October 1 at 3.30PM. The performers will be the community choirs the Clay Chorus, Loudmouth Women and Village Voices(Singing for Lung Health), conducted by Kate Barfield; also featured will be the Brindley Band, specially put together for this performance with musicians from the Boat Band and others.
Greg Stephens is a theatrical composer and site-specific musician. His first professional theatre work as song-writer was with Michael Palin and Terry Jones in the 1964 award-winning show “Hang Down Your Head and Die” in London’s West End. Since then he has written the music for innumerable other shows and event, including many documenting the history and culture of the Potteries. He has been a director of Cat Island since 1982, running community arts musical projects (mainly outdoors). He also plays with the Boat Band, seen at canal, river, maritime and other festivals throughout the British Isles and beyond.
Kate Barfield has been running community choirs in N Staffs since 2008, including the Loudmouth Women, Clay Chorus, Village Voices(Singing for Lung Health) and the Mystery Singers. She has played with the Boat Band since 1989. She has also been the designer of the Penkhull Mystery Plays for 10 years. She has been involved in community arts projects both as musician and maker since the 80’s, making big puppets, carnival images and lanterns for processions and events throughout the country, from Manchester’s Commonwealth Games to canal festivals in London. She has worked in Bosnia, France, Germany, Italy, Holland, New Zealand, Norway, Canada and the USA.