Dear Vox members and friends
As you know, we are due to perform The Sun Does Shine on 27th February after almost 3 years lead in, due to covid. Later this year, we will also launch a short documentary charting our artistic journey and highlighting the issues that Ray Hinton’s story raises regarding long-term sentencing in the UK. With the help of our partners, the Prison Reform Trust, we hope to take the music and the ‘movie’ into prisons once the world gets back to ‘normal’!
This is a unique and challenging project. It has grabbed the attention of Arts Council England who are part-funding it. With income from fees and ticket sales, we can cover most of the core costs. But we need to raise an additional £6,000 if we are to achieve what we set out to do, and break-even in the process!
So, we are asking those of you who can help, to donate via JustGiving, so that we can complete this amazing project. Any donation of £100 or more will be acknowledged in the score and in the film credits. But smaller donations are also welcome.
Our other ask – is that you write to friends and connections who might want to support our work, sending them this information and the funding link. To make it easy, we are offering the template below. Feel free to use/adapt it as appropriate. If you also attach the project summary, that will hopefully generate wider interest in what we are doing.
We think many people will want to be associated with this project and we certainly want everyone to know about it! We just need help to get the word out.
Many thanks and over to YOU!
I am writing to you about an exceptional project currently being developed by my community choir, Vox Holloway*. The Sun Does Shine is a new oratorio that will be premiered on 27th February 2022. It tells the story of Anthony Ray Hinton, an innocent man who spent 30 years on Death Row in Alabama, before being released in 2015. (see summary below)
TSDS is possibly the most emotionally challenging project that Vox has ever taken on. It is a story of injustice, survival, and redemption, one that has urgent relevance for us all. It takes us on a dark journey through racism, abuse of power and unimaginable hardship to the point where love, faith, forgiveness, grim determination, and the best of humanity wins through.
We are also producing a short documentary that will explore how a community choir can take a subject like this and convey a powerful message through words and music in a way that has authenticity and relevance for a UK audience. Vox has partnered with the Prison Reform Trust (PRT) to ensure that the film helps give voice to prisoners here who are serving life, indefinite or long-term sentences. We hope eventually to take the film and the music into prisons around the UK.
Vox needs a bit more funding to ensure that this ambitious project is the best it can possibly be, not least because it has the potential to have an impact way beyond our usual local audience. Arts Council England is funding the core costs of the film, and through fees and ticket income, we can cover the basic costs of the concert. But we need to raise another £6,000 to:
Fully cover the development costs of the project – writing/composition/rights/printing
Produce a quality recording of the concert so it can be used as soundtrack for the film
Undertake additional filming with PRT.
Can you help? It’s not a huge amount of money and we are appealing to our friends, and anyone interested in prison reform, to donate via our JustGiving page (link below). Vox would be grateful for your help, big or small. Any donation of £100 or more will be acknowledged in the score and in the film credits.
Donate here: JUSTGIVING LINK
Please fill in the Gift Aid section if this applies to you – it makes a huge difference to us!
I hope this project inspires you – to help our fundraising, and to come to the concert!
NOTE: Some people may not have heard of the choir, so a footnote, describing Vox, might be helpful……….
Vox Holloway is a North London community choir, open to anyone who loves to sing. Much of our work is new, written and composed by our director Harvey Brough and our founder Justin Butcher. Our performances often include children’s choirs, and we are supported by world class musicians and soloists who love working with us. Since 2009, we have performed regularly at St Luke’s Holloway, and at the Barbican, Hackney Empire and many other venues. We have recorded 4 CDs.
THE SUN DOES SHINE
The Sun Does Shine, is a new musical work, created by Harvey Brough and Justin Butcher and inspired by Anthony Ray Hinton’s compelling autobiography.
At the age of 28, Ray Hinton was wrongly convicted of multiple murders and sentenced to death by a racist Alabama court. He spent the next three decades yards away from ‘Yellow Mama’ – the electric chair – fighting to prove his innocence, before finally being released in 2015. His remarkable story shows how the human spirit can rise above unimaginable hardship. He did not leave prison broken and embittered. Instead, his faith, compassion, sense of humour and love, gave him the capacity to forgive and to embrace life. His relationships saved him – his mother and best friend never doubted him, other prisoners became his friends (many of them were executed), and the prison guards grew to respect and believe him. His flights of imagination and love of reading kept him sane. He brought hope and humanity to a place of death and despair. His message has a universal relevance.
Ray Hinton now works with his lawyer, Bryan Stevenson, to help others on Death Row and to campaign against capital punishment in the States. He has given his blessing to this project.
But what relevance does Ray’s story have for us, here in the UK? Though set a world away, in Alabama, his story touches on wider concerns about criminal justice and offers an inspiring message of courage and hope to anyone involved in the prison system. Working with our partners, the Prison Reform Trust, we have linked up with prisoners in the UK, who are serving long-term or life sentences, and we plan to weave their experiences into a documentary film that will complement the oratorio. Eventually we hope to take the music and the film into prisons around the country.
The film itself will explore how a community choir like Vox embraces and internalises a story that is far removed from our own experience. It will follow our creative journey as we learn to convey that story through music, with a power and integrity that makes for something beautiful as well as challenging. It will show how, through art, a story of redemption can be celebrated in a way that is also disruptive, asking uncomfortable questions about our own assumptions and stereotypes and it will put a spotlight on how, as a society, we deal with crime and punishment, and those tagged as ‘criminals’, here in the UK. We don’t have to answer those questions – raising them is enough.
World class musicians and soloists, led by Wills Morgan, Christina Gill, Clara Sanabras and Michael Henry, will join the community choir Vox Holloway, under the direction of Harvey Brough, for the premiere of The Sun Does Shine, on Sunday 27 February at 7pm in St Luke’s Church, Holloway N7 9JE.