A superstitious date for some, Friday 13 May was a bustling cultural night in Liverpool with the annual LightNight celebrations!
The night was a huge success, with over a thousand people packing out the Anglican Cathedral for each performance of Gerard Manley Hopkins’ powerful poem No Worst, There is None. So many people attended in fact, that unless you got there very early you were either standing or sitting on the floor. The event got great coverage on the Liverpool ECHO and on Twitter with the hashtag #LightNight.
The entire night was a brilliant example of what partnerships with the wider cultural bodies of Liverpool can do. LightNight demonstrates the rich cultural tapestry we have access to in Liverpool and all of the organisations that are working to promote art, theatre, music and literature in order to deliver it to everyone. In few cities do you see such strong ties being forged across organisations and independents to bring about the success of the whole.
For those who couldn’t make it on the night, the event was a collaboration between Bido Lito! and The Reader. The performance consisted of a graphic display projected onto three huge screens in the Anglican, with undulating lines and shapes that mirrored the music’s unique sound coupled with intense representations of mountain ranges that created a stark and dramatic landscape. The music was performed live by IMMAX Ensemble, the Liverpool Cathedral Youth Choir and the Salvation Army Brass Band. They came together to create beautiful soundscapes that perfectly bended with the images onscreen, creating a unique experience in the majestic space that is the Anglican Cathedral.
Halfway through, the music lulled and the screens changed to display Hopkins’ poem No Worst, There is None, and one of our readers stepped up to the lectern. Two very different readings were given by two very unique voices, producing two fabulous pieces. It was amazing to see our first reader Michael, an Admin Volunteer with the Merseyside Big Lottery project, give a touching and very real performance of the poem at 9pm, watched on by his family who had traveled from all over the country. Then in the second reading at 10pm, The Storybarn’s Izzie give everyone a taste of her substantial performance skills, as her voice soared out across the cathedral in her sterling take on Hopkins’ powerful piece.
While people flocked to see the main space at 9 and 10pm, The Reader was making itself known all night long. With our space in The Chapter House, we had volunteers from the Big Lottery Project and Off The Page reading to small groups and individuals as they came in, enabling people to access the Hopkins poem in another new way.
One of the main things we took away from the night was the opportunity we had given to our volunteers. As volunteers who usually read one to one with children, or who are group members or admin volunteers, we found that many relished the chance to change their roles and become someone who could read to a group. Every volunteer said they were so grateful to be a part of the event, which was the biggest happening on a night which is itself one of the defining events in Liverpool’s cultural calendar.Our ability to create this added value for our volunteers gave the work we did on LightNight an even more positive ending then we could have expected.