Mystery Players make music

Matt Baker

A didgeridoo, a hurdy gurdy, a crumhorn and a synthesiser are just some of the many and varied instruments that will be played throughout the 2018 cycle of the Chester Mystery Plays this summer.

Composer and musical director Matt Baker, who has created the music for the previous three cycles of mystery plays, is working with musicians from Chester, the North West and North Wales to set the scene for the drama in the Garden of Eden, the peace of the birth of Jesus to the arrival of the Antichrist.

Matt said: “From a young woman singing a solo with guitar to hundreds of singers backed by the majesty of the Chester Cathedral organ, there is something for all musical tastes. At one point you could be in New Orleans, at another hearing soft pipes or a Celtic harp in the south of Ireland.”

He added: “The plays are rich in music. After talking through the important themes of the production with the writer Deborah McAndrew – man’s hunger for war and our neglect of the planet – I worked solidly on creating the score as a whole.

“What blows me away is the utter commitment of everyone taking part. This production is huge with a company of almost 200 actors, singers and musicians and I watch experienced guitarists sharing chords with younger musicians and everyone being blown away when our young percussionist Jack Hollins heralds the arrival of the Antichrist. Some musicians have even taken up new instruments to make a certain section work.”

The music for the 2018 production of the Chester Mystery Plays, at Chester Cathedral from June 27-July 14, is all original apart from Matt’s adaptation of a First World War song God Be With Our Boys Tonight and the 15th century Adam Lay YBounden.

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