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Review and photo gallery: Souvenir at Holkham Hall

17:49 19 May 2014

The Voice Project

The Voice Project's performance of Souvenir at Holkham Hall. Photo: Phil Sahyer.

Phil Sahyer

Set within and around Holkham Hall, over the immaculately manicured lawns and then on into the deer park, Souvenir was a haunting and elegiac spectacle about memory and loss.

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The Voice Project's performance of Souvenir at Holkham Hall, Photo: JMA Photography.The Voice Project's performance of Souvenir at Holkham Hall, Photo: JMA Photography.

As more than 150 performers filled the skies with uplifting and sometimes challenging music, it was as if every singer in the county had been gathered for the day.

Directed with an enviable sureness of touch by the Voice Project’s founders, Sian Croose and Jonathan Baker, this was promenade performance on a grand scale – consistently imaginative and with flashes of brilliance.

There was a loose narrative thread – it was needed to give the performance heft – but what wowed the audience was a largely abstract collage of set pieces. Behatted ladies tootled by on their bicycles, as suited gentlemen walked on, incongruently shielded from the sun by their black umbrellas. A marble hall, stacked with choral singers, reverberated with song. Outside again, a lone drummer, and then a distant brass quartet, played somewhere out in the trees, while a lone fiddler drifted by on a perfectly still lake. The magical images kept on coming.

After such wonder, it was a lovely human touch that the production closed by distributing a cast photograph – our own souvenir postcard. This was a fitting end to a site-specific production drawing talent from the local communities of Norfolk. It not only showed what a festival can and should produce – it showed what a festival is for.

The Voice Project's performance of Souvenir at Holkham Hall. Photo: Phil Sahyer.The Voice Project's performance of Souvenir at Holkham Hall. Photo: Phil Sahyer.

Souvenir was part of the Norfolk and Norwich Festival which runs until May 15. Visit www.nnfestival.org.uk

David Vass

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