ARACHNEVERSARY – Shortest Day, Longest Night

Solstice Shorts Festival Founder Cherry Potts talks about the 2nd and 3rd festivals and the book that resulted, Shortest Day, Longest Night. Features music by Ian Kennedy & Sarah Lloyd, Annalie Wilson, Vocal Chords, Zac Gvirtman, and stories/poems by Mario Duarte, Tim Cremin, Bob Beagrie, Sarah Evans, performed by Ray Newe, Saul Reichlin and Katy Darby. BSL interpretation by Martin Fox-Roberts and Paul Michaels

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Mock Posh and Tatters

The last of our original songs for Solstice written especially for the Solstice Shorts Festival, Mock Posh and Tatters by Moira Quinn, which takes on all the Cornish midwinter traditions, set to a traditional tune by Ian Kennedy and Sarah Lloyd.

BSL interpreted by Paul Michaels


Longest night – the complete videos

It’s twelfth night, and the official end of the festive season, so as you pack up your Christmas baubles, here’s something to cheer you up: your opportunity to experience the entire evening of Longest Night, in the same order as the audience, but without me waffling on in between, and without the mulled cider, unless you happen to have some to hand of course.

Wassail Vocal Chords

A Little Favour by Wendy Gill Read by Annalie Wilson

Past Three a Clock Vocal Chords

At The Hotel De La Lune by Sarah James Read by all the actors

Naughty Baby Ian Kennedy & Sarah Lloyd

Midwinter Wife by Cherry Potts Read by Annalie Wilson

Ba Ba Lamie Noo Ian Kennedy & Sarah Lloyd

Life Between Lives by Sarah Evans Read by Patsy Prince

Solstice Carol Ian Kennedy & Sarah Lloyd
How We Know the Cold is Coming, or October by Abigail Beckel Read by Annalie Wilson

The Cold Time Ian Kennedy & Sarah Lloyd

Mouse by David Mathews Read by Lorraine Spenceley

Dunstan Lullaby Vocal Chords

Spooning by Abigail Beckel Read by Annalie Wilson

Soulmate Annalie

Dancing To Silence by Neil Brosnan Read by Lorraine Spenceley

The Snow it Melts the Soonest Ian Kennedy & Sarah Lloyd

The Lover.s Ghost Ian Kennedy & Sarah Lloyd

Vigil by Abigail Beckel Read by Lorraine Spenceley

Crossing the Bar Vocal Chords

Dunking For a New Sun by Bob Beagrie Read by Saul Reichlin

Drive the Cold Winter Away Vocal Chords

What He Doesn’t Know by Frances Gapper Read by Patsy Prince

Waves Annalie

Doubting Thomas by David McVey Read by Saul Reichlin

We Will Be Heard Annalie

Left of Earth, Right of Venus by Pauline Walker Read by Patsy Prince

The Astronaut Annalie

Left of Earth, Right of Venus


Today’s story from Longest Night is Left of Earth, Right of Venus written by Pauline Walker, read by Patsy Prince, accompanied by Ian Kennedy & Sarah Lloyd.

Longest Night Photos


Full cast of readers performing At The Hotel de la Lune by Sarah James. (L-R: Annalie Wilson, Lorraine Spenceley, Patsy Prince, Saul Reichlin.

IMG_0363Sarah Lloyd and Ian Kennedy singing one of their lullabies.


Annalie singing


Patsy, Sarah & Ian performing the final story: Left of Earth, Right of Venus by Pauline Walker.


Saul reading Doubting Thomas by David McVey



Lorraine reading Mouse by David Mathews.

IMG_0361Annalie reading The Midwinter Wife by Cherry Potts.IMG_0359

A small segment of the above capacity audience…

I’m hoping other people will share their photos… especially as I don’t have any of Vocal Chords as I was singing with them. (HINT)

Music, Music, Music

The solstice is almost upon us, and in the best traditions of midwinter we are planning to make a lot of noise. We have three musical interventions happening at Solstice Shorts 2015 Longest Night, with Vocal Chords, Annalie Wilson and Ian Kennedy & Sarah Lloyd

Here’s some music from Vocal Chords to get you in the mood –

Their CD of English Folk Carols will be available on the night.

 Annalie’s music is available here

And here’s Ian & Sarah at last year’s Solstice Shorts Festival


But the music doesn’t stop there. Wendy Gill, whose story A Little Favour we are reading on the 21st, has also written a Christmas single in aid of CRISIS UK,- (under her newly married name, Wendy Martin-Gray) Christmas Spell – buy it here

  YouTube here


“Christmas Spell” Brings the Warmth of the Season
to Help the Homeless

A brand new Christmas anthem, written by Wendy Martin-Gray and performed by a variety of musical theatre stars has been released to raise funds for Crisis UK, the national charity for single homeless people.  “Christmas Spell” literally spells out the spirit of Christmas in all the ways that represent being ‘home for holidays’.  But, for single homeless people, this can be a distant memory.  Working with award winning musical director Paul Boyd who gathered a choir of singers from the West End and produced the inspiring arrangement, Martin-Gray has created an instant classic that lifts the soul.

Performers include The Voice star Jordan Lee Davies (currently appearing in “Les Miserables” in the West End), Olivier Award-winning actress Leanne Jones, and “Mrs. Henderson Presents” star Jane Milligan along with other singers and even pipers from The Black Watch to create “The Stages of London Singers”.

“A Christmas Spell” is available on iTunes (click here), as well as Spotify, Amazon Music and from most online music retailers for just 79p. The promotional video is now online on YouTube here.  All profits raised will be presented to Crisis UK in the New Year.  Social media can be followed @crisispeople using the hashtag #christmasspell

“I wanted to do something meaningful this year to raise money and lift the spirits,” says composer Wendy Martin-Gray. “A Christmas Spell reminds us of the comforts of home and support at this time of year, something which Crisis works to provide for single homeless people.”

Ed Tait, Director of Fundraising for Crisis, said: “Homelessness is a devastating and isolating experience.  The average age of death for a homeless person is just 47. No one should face these dangers. But thanks to the dedication of our fundraisers, each year Crisis can help thousands of people to rebuild their lives. I want to say a huge thank you to Wendy for helping end homelessness for good.”




Video of the launch of The Don’t Touch Garden

Rather out of focus video of Kate reading and Ian & Sarah (and the audience) singing.

Don’t Touch Garden Launch Photos and audio

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Here’s a gallery of pictures and the audio recording of the performance at the launch.  With Kate Foley reading from The Don’t Touch Garden, and Sarah Lloyd & Ian Kennedy (and the audience occasionally)  accompanying with music and song. We’ll put the Q&A up later, once it’s edited! And the video… out of focus though it is.

The Don’t Touch Garden Trailer

Here’s a little taster of The Don’t Touch Garden, using last week’s launch-rehearsal recording of Kate Foley reading with Sarah Lloyd and Ian Kennedy playing and singing, and photos from Kate’s family album.

The Don’t Touch Garden is published tomorrow, to coincide with National Adoption Week.

Rehearsals and performances and feedback

We are busy preparing for the launch of The Don’t Touch Garden next week, and spent yesterday morning rehearsing with musicians Sarah Lloyd and Ian Kennedy, who we worked with for last year’s Solstice Shorts.

Ian Kennedy & Sarah Lloyd

Ian Kennedy & Sarah Lloyd

Ian & Sarah will be providing linking music for the various sections of the long narrative poem The Don’t Touch Garden which is the title poem of Kate Foley’s eighth collection (but first with us).

Here is a very small segment to give you an idea what they are up to together. They came up with a particularly good lullaby!

Some feedback from an audience member at the Woodbridge library reading last week, via Sylvia Fairley one of the musicians who played at that performance.

What a wonderful evening on Friday. We so loved it. You and your piano playing friend did the most perfect interplaying of music that added so much to such a marvellous poem… I hadn’t heard Kate before or read any of her poetry so what a treat that was. Wow, what a woman and didn’t the audience soak it all up. One of the best of evenings, truly.

Caroline Hawksley

And finally, a photo and video snippet from Kate’s performance at Incite @ The Phoenix Artist Club last night. incite3

Hoping the multi-talented Anny Knight will share her photos of the evening later, as she was a lot closer to the action than I could get.