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26 May 2017 7pm

The Ascent of Song the first million years devised by Edward Wickham and Christopher Fox performed by The Clerks.

Programme includes: Medieval chants, songs and carols, Renaissance polyphony by Ockeghem, de Wert; madrigals by Tomkins and Morley, New work by Christopher Fox, Pre-recorded sequences of singing from around the world.

The Ascent of Song is a playful and thought-provoking look at the history of singing as a universal characteristic of human behaviour, with the help of the repertories both old and new which The Clerks have long pioneered. According to Charles Darwin, the origins of verbal communication lie in a musical 'protolanguage', in which speech and song were one. The Ascent of Song explores this ancestry, and the unexpected ways it is revealed in everyday experience. Here the polyphony of Ockeghem rubs shoulders with that of the Ba'aka tribes of the Congo, Medieval songs with those of Eastern Europe. The programme also features new works by Christopher Fox and Edward Wickham alongside music and sounds both exotic and commonplace; a sequence embracing madrigals and 'motherese', football chants and fa-la-las, in a unique celebration of that intrinsically human instinct - to sing.

The programme was originally commissioned by The Wellcome Collection and premiered as part of Radio 3's Why Music? Season in September 2015.

The Clerks

One of the outstanding vocal groups in its field, The Clerks' recordings and performances of Renaissance vocal music have earned them a place among the foremost interpreters of the repertoire. The group's discography of over 20 CDs represents a uniquely valuable and pioneering contribution to early music and has won them many accolades, including the coveted Gramophone Award for Early Music. The Clerks have performed in the UK's major venues and festivals, including the BBC Proms, the Barbican, the Queen Elizabeth Hall, and St David's Hall, Cardiff; and regularly appear at festivals throughout Europe and the United States. The Clerks have broadcast in many European countries, and have made programmes for Belgian and French television. In recent years the ensemble has expanded its repertoire to include contemporary works and collaborations. These have included Qudduson, a programme featuring soloists from the Middle East, The Clerks Songbook, and The Hours - a 24-hour sound installation bringing together pre-recorded and live materials gathered from a wide variety of community and faith groups throughout the UK. The Clerks' latest projects - Tales from Babel and Phantom Voices, both sponsored by Wellcome Trust - have entailed exploration, through new and old music, of the scientific issues surrounding text intelligibility and musical hallucinations.

Tickets £20, £15 concessions available ONLINE at or from ELY CATHEDRAL BOX OFFICE 01353 660349 (Mon-Sat 9.30am-4pm)