Beautiful Creatures answered our call out with this response; to create a piece using ceremonial bells and plaintive voices to ring out in celebration of Reading’s ancient Greyfriar’s Church, once home to Franciscan monks. We experienced the vibrant resonance of Beautiful Creatures’ giant suspended chimes, of their design and the only instrument of its type in the world, with accompanying specially commissioned composition and cloister of choral voices.
Call of the Bells
Devised and Performed by Danielle Corbishley, Liz Allum, Kate Lewis, Tom Neill, Cat Brooks
Composition by Tom Neill
This composition draws on patterns of plainsong, developed in the earliest Christianity. The text is based on St Francis of Assisi’s Canticle of the Creatures. Franciscan Monks were followers of St Francis.
Taking inspiring from the trades and guilds of Reading, this piece uses lists of Guilds and their members, from a document found in Berkshire Records Office archives. It is dated 1560, shortly after Greyfriars became a Guildhall.
Before Greyfriars became Reading Bridewell prison, it was a house of correction for rogues and vagabonds. The text of this piece is adapted from St Francis’ allegorical story The Sacred Commerce, which explores how, to a monk who needs nothing, even a bare room like a prison cell, could be a kind of paradise.