Cabot Circus Cantata

A collaboration between Neville Gabie, David Ogden and The City of Bristol Choir

One of the aspects of building development on this scale that is fascinating is the diverse, temporary community of site and office staff that have been brought together. On any one day there are something like two thousand site workers from heavy construction to crane drivers and canteen staff, as well as large teams of onsite architects, site managers, procurement, engineering, surveyors and countless other specialist skills. Reflecting the UK as a whole, what has been most revealing is the incredible ethnic mix on site, with a significant percentage of site workers from Eastern Europe and beyond. Many might stay in Bristol after the completion of the development, so it is interesting to reflect how this might influence the cultural diversity of the city and how can the moment be marked positively?

Walking around the site on any day there is a mixture of sounds, languages and songs that is truly international. With that in mind Neville Gabie initiated a collaborative project around the idea of national songs working with David Ogden and the City of Bristol Choir.

Over one week in spring 2007 Neville Gabie and David Ogden spent time onsite asking site and office staff to sing a song from their home country. Contributions varied hugely in content and style, but over the course of that week more than twenty five contributions covering several nationalities were made. Those songs formed the basis of a musical score developed by David Ogden. Many of the songs were then learnt in the different languages to be performed by the City of Bristol Choir on the building Site in the empty shell of what will be the new House of Fraser store and to an audience in St James Priory.

The Cabot Circus Cantata, intended as a celebration of the onsite diversity A DVD of the songs as they were recorded on the building site with an accompanying publication will be launched in spring 2008

Neville Gabie