Choral Theatre

Over my many colourful years based in Brighton, I have had the privilege of working with many talented and innovative theatre practitioners – from working as voice animateur with Open Air music on The Brighton Muses , a huge community piece to celebrate the re-opening of the Brighton Domein 2002   to composing the vocal music for Medea by Company:Collisions as well as many collaborative projects with Periplum Theatre, including RiSing, (see song cycles) and Souterrain for Wild Works theatre in Stanmer Park.

Song cycles

One of my passions, as a composer and workshop leader, is to weave together story and song – sometimes accompanied by simple ensemble movement and ambient sound effects (vocal, instrumental and sampled) – to create through composed, often intricate and deeply satisfying musical journeys. These are exciting projects to create and develop and I love the challenge of devising in this way– they push the boundaries of community singing and drama and provide rewarding and often thought provoking performances. I have been greatly inspired by song cycle work penned by my colleagues and friends; The Raven by Ali Burns and Blazing Heart by Helen Chadwick are the first to mind.

I have written a number of song cycles for choirs;

  • Journey Songs is a piece I wrote for Hullabaloo – songs about travelling – both literal and metaphorical, that we performed in Brighton’s iconic St Bartholomew’s Church.
  • RiSing was a joint project with Brighton based Periplum theatre. Staged outdoors, with the classically beautiful Doric columns in Queens Park, Brighton as our backdrop, it featured songs of light and transformation, with beautiful hand held lighting effects.
  • It’s about time does exactly what it says on the tin! A collection of songs honouring and exploring time, from David Bowie to mediaeval French including original compositions, this performance was performed at The Spiegel Tent as part of the Brighton Festival, and described by a festival critic as ‘the aural equivalent of finding a £50 note on the street’!
  • Unsung is my biggest song cycle project to date – a suite of 12 songs, with stories written into the project based on the historical, mythical and cultural concept of heroism – including our own, unsung heroes.
  • Uprising was a commissioned piece for Walcot Community Choir in Bath. This piece was performed at the Rondo Theatre in Bath, to critical acclaim!
  • The Four Directions is a song cycle I was originally commissioned to write by the Brighton Sacred World Music Festival. It consists of four cornerstone songs, called East, South, West and North, that relate to the elements and properties of air, fire, water and earth respectively. This project is currently being sung by a number of choirs all across Wales.

Bards and Ballads

Bards and Ballads is a Choral Theatre workshop course, which explores group devising and performing in a fun and innovative way.

"It was such a joyful experience" 
Paul, Bards & Ballads Participant
Next Bards & Ballads event:

Bards and Ballads Workshop

Thursday 16th Feb

Central School of Speech & Drama

Voice MA cohort

We are thrilled to be offering a Bards & Ballads workshop to the Voice MA students of Central School of Speech and Drama on Thursday 16 February.

This is a closed session, but stay tuned for more Bards and Ballads news coming soon.

Email Kirsty for more details or to book this workshop for your group or event.

Calling the chorally confident and creatively curious!

If you enjoy small group harmony singing, you are interested in creative storytelling through song and you have a ‘flair for the dramatic’ then Bards and Ballads is for you!

Bards and Ballads is a Choral Theatre workshop course, which explores group devising and performing in a fun and innovative way. The project is led by choral composer and director Kirsty Martin and it combines several creative elements – harmony and small group singing, spoken word and creative writing.

The material explored in B&B is both archetypal and personal – rites of passage, epiphanic rites of passage and moments of change and transformation sit alongside reflecting on the beauty in everyday activity, in an unusual and often humorous way! We use some set texts set around an agreed theme, as well as specially created original material and group devised material. It’s a really unusual and satisfying combination!

Bards and Ballads is not for beginner singers / actors, but you also do not need to be able to read music, as the songs will be taught by ear and supported by mp3s. You just need some harmony singing / ensemble experience, an open mind and an intrepid spirit!

These workshops can be run in person, or over Zoom.

Email now for further information or to book this workshop for your event or singing group.