A 140-strong group of north Norfolk singers had a chance to hone their craft with chart-topping classical composer Patrick Hawes at the weekend.

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Mr Hawes, whose latest album, Angel, went to number one in the Classic FM music charts, ran a workshop at Holt which is part of a £31,000 project commemorating the life of First World War Norfolk nurse Edith Cavell.

He has been commissioned by the Sheringham and Cromer Choral Society to write Eventide, in an Arts Council-funded project.

The scheme was dreamed up by Mr Hawes and Gresham’s Prep School director of music Nathan Waring, who is the society’s director of music.

It will see society members and Gresham’s music summer school students perform with the English Chamber Orchestra and top soprano Elin Manahan Thomas, who sang at the opening ceremony of the 2012 Paralympic Games.

Mr Hawes, who lives at Catfield and plays the organ at Worstead Church, worked with his brother Andrew, a priest and lyricist, on the piece.

It marks the Fist World War centenary and pays tribute to Norfolk heroine Edith Cavell, who was executed in Belgium in 1915 for her part in helping hundreds of allied troops escape occupied Europe.

During a post-workshop question and answer session, Mr Hawes described imagining himself in Edith Cavell’s cell immediately prior to her execution: “always coming back to Norfolk”.

Mr Waring said the project had given choral society members and summer school students a unique opportunity to perform with some of the country’s top music professionals in a highly impressive venue.

“It has been inspirational,” he added. “It has been something that has bound the community together and given a real sense of who Edith Cavell was, but it has also allowed us to work with a Norfolk composer writing for Norfolk people, who will have the excitement of performing in Norwich Cathedral.”

Following the Norwich premiere of Eventide on July 12, a second concert will be held at St Peter’s Church, Sheringham, with further performances of the piece planned for 2015.

The new work will also be published and recorded and made available to other choirs.

For tickets for the cathedral concert (£10 and £20) call the Theatre Royal box office on 01603 630000.

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