#Arachne5 thank-you’s: Musicians

With the 5th Anniversary celebrations heading into view I was thinking about the thank you speech, and like the Oscars it is in danger of going on, and on. And on. So I thought I’d blog it instead, a section at a time.

What does a publisher need with musicians? Well, our regular events Solstice Shorts Festival (always), and The Story Sessions (usually), some of our launches and some of our writing workshops have included music – always acoustic, often folk, sometimes original, mostly but not exclusively songs, because we love the narrative power of a song.

Our most frequent collaborators are Ian Kennedy and Sarah Lloyd who have performed in just about every capacity we offer them.


Next most regular must be Annalie Wilson, who also reads for us and was our artist in residence for the last four Story Sessions..

Annalie Wilson


After that it’s our choir friends, in various guises, (there’s a lot of cross-over in choirs!) most frequently as Summer All Year Long, but also Vocal Chords and Raise the Roof

Will Evererett singing with Summer all Year Long

Summer All Year Long

© Ben Mueller-Brown benhasphotos.wordpress.com

Vocal Chords at WGL

more vocal chords (by Katy Darby)

Vocal Chords (by Katy Darby)

Vocal Chords Wassailing

For Solstice Shorts we really push the boat out, with (sometimes) music written for the occasion AND multiple musicians: Shadrack Tye, Pepper & Shepherd, Rosemary Lippard, Melanie Harrold, Juliet Desailly, Peter Thomas & Piotr Jordan (playing original music by Zac Gvirtzman), plus everyone already mentioned!

And finally… Lester Simpson, who runs singing workshops for us once or twice a year and teaches us amazing songs that find their way into our events, and the repetoire of choirs all over London; and has become a friend along the way.

Will there be music at the Anniversary celebrations on the 8th September? Of course there will! Book your free ticket now!

CroftMass on Saturday

If you are coming to our Singing workshop with Lester Simpson, (there are 8 places left by the way!) it would be worth dropping round the corner to CroftFest’s CroftMass on your way. It starts at 12 and there are food stalls and markets and Santa’s Grotto (If you don’t feel too old for that!). So just nice time to grab your lunch from the ‘famous vegetarian food stall’ at Jays, or get your face painted at the Estate Agents!

Lots more info on facebook

Lester Simpson Winter Folk Song Workshop for Solstice Shorts

You can now book for Lester Simpson’s Folk Song Workshop on 26th November – our Solstice ‘Advent’ event! 12.45-5.15 pm, £25lester1sml.
Come and learn around 5 acapella songs in 3 or 4 part harmony, from Lester Simpson an international recording artist, and member of the renowned Coope Boyes & Simpson, who also runs community choirs. Informal but intense, lots of tea and biscuits. Access to sound files after the event. St Hilda’s Church Hall, Courtrai Road, Crofton Park SE23 1NL

Advance booking essential!

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Book for Lester Simpson Folk Song workshop

Bright Morning Stars Solstice Shorts Video


Two takes on celestial bodies for our time themed festival – Nicky Diss reads Emma Timpany‘s story Stars in which a failed relationship is likened to a comet passing (among other brilliantly imagined connections).

This story is one of sixteen read at the festival and featured in the book Solstice Shorts: Sixteen Stories about Time


and Summer All Year Long singing Bright Morning Star, a traditional spiritual arranged by Lester Simpson


These were actually programmed together at the festival – we had such great plans for curating the songs and stories to match, but in reality we had to programme based on who could get where and when, so it was particularly satisfying when song and story matched up, and at least we get to have another go at the curation lark with the videos.

Disclaimer from the BSL Interpreter, who would have liked to rehearse with the performers, so treat interpretation as indicative rather than inspired.

Summer All Year Long at Solstice Shorts Festival – videos

Some more music from Summer All Year Long. And All Year Long is right – SAYL started thinking about songs for Solstice Shorts back in January last year, looked at hundreds and discarded almost as many,


The Year Turns by John Tams was already in the repertoire, and we each found and championed at least one other song and curated (meaning anything from finding existing recordings, to arranging parts or arranging for an arrangement, to stamping a foot and insisting a song stayed in the set list). Some fell by the wayside as too complex, or not quite ‘us’, the rest were rehearsed twice a week for what seemed like years while we took turns to get a particularly nasty throat infection, which meant we have only ever sung these with everyone there ONCE before!


The Ladies Go Dancing at Whitsun, written in the sixties by Austin John Marshall and known to us through Shirley Collins’ recording, was under Alix’s care and we felt that something about WWI was appropriate for 2014. We are very grateful to the lovely Lester Simpson for arranging it for us.


Cherry remembered Roll Turn Spin from Play Away which featured Toni Arthur and Julie Covington doing an amazing version of it. A LOT of research was needed to track down a recording, particularly as in fact it is two songs sandwiched together (RTS and The Green Man by Alan Bell), and only the chorus of Roll Turn Spin is used, the rest of the song (by Len Chandler) is about something else ENTIRELY. (If you are looking for the Play Away version its on the LP Hey You!) Peter worked out the arrangement from listening to the recording over and over and over. It was a labour of love, and as far as we were concerned it was the theme tune for the festival.