Blackwall’s Water City festival concert tells 1,001 years of Thames history

A Water City festival concert is being staged by the Thames at Blackwall on Sunday that reveals the story of 1,001 years of seafaring tradition as Sch�herazade would have told it.

The musical portrait of river trade tradition, reflecting migration that has made the Thames the gateway to Britain down the centuries, includes Bengali and Turkish songs and Caribbean rhythm familiar to communities of East London, as well as Portuguese fado, Yoruba chants from West Africa and even Inuit folk poetry from distant Arctic lands.

The variety of music is framed by two movements from Rimsky-Korsakov’s Sch�herazade. The legendary story-teller stretches her tale to 1,001 years of seaborne tradition, revealing a woven history of world trade and migration of music arriving on the Thames down the centuries.

‘What the River Sings’ features the Grand Union and Water City orchestras and Hackney Voices and Hackney Empire choirs, with other performers from around the world.

There is big band, jazz and popular Sea Songs familiar to the Last Night at the Proms. Instruments range from orchestral brass, strings and woodwind to Latin American and African percussion, Indian sitar and steel pans.

Sunday’s concert, the brainchild of Lord Andrew Mowson, former minister who turned his church into the now-thriving Bromley-by-Bow community centre that leading politicians beat a path to from Westminster, begins at 4pm in The Chainstore at Trinity Buoy Wharf in Orchard Place, Blackwall. Tickets �5 and �10, by email to