Symphony of Us

Coventry Cathedral


Coventry Cathedral stands out as an architectural treasure because it came out of the mind of one man, Sir Basil Spence.

Paul O’Donnell’s Symphony of Us, likewise, is a masterpiece celebrating the ordinary, by allowing six, albeit I suspect, carefully chosen voices to celebrate ‘their’ Coventry and their memories as well their place within their city. All of them have made significant contributions.

Nor Aziz, from Malaysia, sees her six children like plants in her garden. Her ‘SuperSix’ encourage her to create events inspired by her garden. Moz Baker has provided leadership to bring Coventry City Football Club back to the city he loves and had us singing the Cov City song! Duncan Brightside, as a primary school teacher, chairs an organisation supporting LGBTQ+ young people because he noticed lack of support growing up. Sam Collinge is a bereavement midwife who supports families where a baby has died. Sadly, Lynette Coulston had a fall and spent the evening in A and E with a dramatic bump on the head so Tessa Walker, the dramaturg, stepped in from the wings. Lynette is a retired teacher, now a spiritualist minister, whose own experience of life supports families suffering from PTSD. Roze Navab, from Iran, has taken over the Coventry Twin Cities’ project to inject new life and commitment into Coventry’s innovative idea of global linkages. Their stories are inspirational and far from dull! Paul O’Donnell is a brilliant and funny host and even the BSL signer Andrea Daly provides elements of fun.

The Orchestra of the Swan, a full professional symphony orchestra, leader and artistic director David Le Page, Paul O’Donnell explains, is part of the performance because Paul accidentally heard a full, live orchestra while in Cologne and was entranced. Paul Fardon, composer and conductor, has written a suite of music that supports the voices. The music is varied and exciting, sometimes supporting the words as background, sometimes, including a marvellous section that commemorates those we loved and are no longer here, that is spell-binding.

Particularly ainteresting and heart-warming, as a finale, a bit like Six Degrees of Separation, all of the people behind the voices were linked in some way. As an evening’s entertainment, it deserves a wider audience: it was marvellous and a real tribute to the City of Culture and its creators. Ends 05-02-22.

Jane Howard


Coventry City of Culture

Index page  Reviews A-Z Reviews by Theatre