Monday 5th March
Hot off the Eurostar and pedalling through pouring rain into the welcoming arms of the World Choir rehearsing at the Peace Hall, Ghent. Franck, centre, lives in Lederberg, the area of the city that’s providing so much enthusiastic material and support for ‘The Swamp that was’, the bicycle opera I’m developing here. This is the start of research week two, to gather and map compositional material, so I’m recording, assisted by Els Viaene. The choir is directed by local Bolivian vocalist Anna, they practice South African, Nicaraguan and Greenham Common(!) protest songs. Then pack mics and a fast wet pedal to what has to be the social and musical antithesis. The Ledebirds, in their weekly rehearsal. Word is out that we’re here and the room is packed. Stirring gypsy tunes from Slovakia and more. Gut smiling stuff. And the only common language these neighbours share.