Water City festival’s Sch�herazade tells 1,001 stories of Thames history

Hundreds of fans packed Trinity Wharf on the Thames waterfront for Sunday’s Water City Festival, part of the BBC’s Nation of Music weekend.

Main performance at The Chainstore concert venue was a work by composer Tony Haynes telling the story of the global role of the river that has brought peoples from all corners of the earth to London.

Haynes used folk music and poetry from Africa, Europe and even the Arctic, framed by Rimsky-Korsakov’s classical Sch�herazade—the legendary story-teller stretching her tale to 1,001 nights, with Michael Bochmann taking the violin solo.

But here, Haynes was telling the story of 1,001 years of Thames history, weaving seaborne tradition of world trade and migration down the centuries.

Sunday’s festival used three choirs and three orchestras that also took three days’ rehearsal to blend, singers from Hackney Voices, Ecliptic Voices and Hackney Empire Community choirs performing with the Grand Union, Water City and Grand Union Youth orchestras.

Performers came from Europe, Central and South America, the Indian sub-continent, Australia and West Africa as well as the UK in a programme that also included, appropriately, sea-faring shanties familiar to the last Night at the Proms.