Ge­orge Moorey’s mu­sic project in­spired by his adopted home of Glouces­ter

SPA­CES is a wildly di­verse and am­bi­tious mu­sic project by com­poser and pro­ducer Ge­orge Moorey, in­spired by his adopted city of Glouces­ter

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Strangers from afar

Come in from the storm

Shel­ter in our home

Find a place to dwell

Share your story so that we might un­der­stand

And we’ll weave strong ties with a peace to counter all de­spair ‘Strangers’, from Ge­orge Moorey’s SPA­CES project – lyrics by Beth Grif­fin

I’m warned be­fore go­ing round to Ge­orge and Nic Moorey’s house that they “have cats”, and within mo­ments of ar­riv­ing I meet Mikey who’s taken over the pushchair in the hall­way; Pop­pet (“the feisty one”) is stalk­ing the kitchen; while big, beau­ti­ful Bill is de­mand­ing of Ge­orge’s at­ten­tion the whole time we’re talk­ing in the base­ment stu­dio.

“I think he’s like a shaman,” says Ge­orge. “When­ever I go up­stairs to play on the piano, he’s straight on my lap, and if I try to pick up a gui­tar…” he says, sigh­ing, look­ing at Bill with ex­as­per­ated af­fec­tion, “it’s al­most im­pos­si­ble, so I have to shut him out. He seems drawn to mu­sic.”

It has to be said – and Ge­orge is the first to ad­mit it – that see­ing him sit­ting, stroking the huge, white fluff ball that is Bill, brings to mind a cer­tain Bond vil­lain… though the board shorts he’s sport­ing (Ge­orge, that is, not Bill) and con­tented smile (Ge­orge and Bill) spoil the evil aes­thet­ics.

Ge­orge and wife Nic met while at Lan­caster Univer­sity in the late ’90s. Ge­orge was study­ing Art and De­sign, while play­ing and record­ing in bands and do­ing live sound for oth­ers. “I spent my stu­dent loan on kit for record­ing,” he laughs, ev­i­dently know­ing even then where his heart was re­ally at. Af­ter uni, he re­turned to Lon­don and got a job in a post-pro­duc­tion stu­dio do­ing mas­ter­ing, but soon re­alised that, in an en­vi­ron­ment where a knowl­edge of cut­ting-edge tech­nol­ogy and stay­ing up ’til the wee, small hours were ex­pected, he was “too old” and so only stayed there for a year. That was in Oc­to­ber 1996 – Ge­orge was just 21 but most of his peers were fresh-from­school, am­bi­tious 16 or 17 year-olds.

As Nic is orig­i­nally from Chel­tenham, they de­cided that when they got mar­ried they would move to Glouces­ter­shire, which is ex­actly what they did a few months be­fore ty­ing the knot in Septem­ber 1998. When they first moved to the county it was Tewkes­bury they plumped for, liv­ing there for around 18 months be­fore buy­ing a Ge­or­gian ter­raced house in Glouces­ter with loads of space for fam­ily – and that all-im­por­tant record­ing stu­dio.

In the in­ter­ven­ing years, Ge­orge set­tled into city life, mak­ing con­nec­tions, work­ing on mu­si­cal projects and get­ting to learn about and love Glouces­ter’s rich her­itage. All of th­ese con­nec­tions and ex­pe­ri­ences have come to­gether to help him cre­ate SPA­CES – an am­bi­tious mu­sic project in­spired by the city it­self, and launched at this month’s Glouces­ter His­tory Fes­ti­val.

And so, be­gin­ning in Novem­ber 2017, he set about pro­duc­ing a record­ing of a new orig­i­nal song in each of eight

‘In a hum­ble way I want to make some mu­sic in those spa­ces and leave a legacy’

care­fully cho­sen city venues, col­lab­o­rat­ing with dif­fer­ent teams of lo­cal mu­si­cians, artists, po­ets, song­writ­ers and singers. The re­sult­ing project com­prises films, record­ings, art­work, il­lus­tra­tions, photos, and sto­ries.

When em­bark­ing on the project, Ge­orge had sev­eral his­toric venues on his list be­fore de­cid­ing on the fi­nal eight. The orig­i­nal line-up in­cluded The Mariners’ Chapel in Glouces­ter Docks, the lep­ers’ chapel in Hill­field Gar­dens (St Mag­da­lene’s), the chapel at St Mar­garet’s on Lon­don Road, and the United Re­formed Church op­po­site Glouces­ter Park. How­ever, given the bud­get he had to work with from the Arts Coun­cil, he de­cided he would limit the venues to ones that he could re­search thor­oughly for the project as well as eas­ily be fol­lowed on a city cen­tre trail.

The first up was St Ni­cholas’ Church on West­gate Street – one of Ge­orge’s per­sonal favourites, with its fas­ci­nat­ing his­tory and “wonky tower” dam­aged by Roy­al­ist troops dur­ing the 1643 Siege of Glouces­ter.

Ge­orge is keen to give Nic the credit for com­ing up with the trail idea and, hav­ing walked it with Ge­orge, it works beau­ti­fully and can be done in half an hour – though I would urge you take a lit­tle longer in or­der to prop­erly take in the sto­ries they have to tell. Both Ge­orge and Nic have spent a lot of time walk­ing around Glouces­ter with sons (Euan, six, and Luca, two) in their bug­gies, and have got to know the city and its peo­ple well.

Start­ing at St Mary de Crypt on South­gate Street (which in­spired The Quiet­ness of Stones); the trail pro­ceeds to Black­fri­ars (Il­lu­mi­na­tions); cut­ting through to West­gate Street via Bull Lane to St Ni­cholas’ (Strangers); down Archdea­con Street to St Mary de Lode (The Mea­sure of the Man); past Bishop Hooper’s Mon­u­ment to the Cathe­dral (Re­turn­ing); onto St John’s in North­gate Street (Coals); up to the Cross and St Michael’s Tower (Aethelflaed); and fi­nally on to the only sec­u­lar venue in the trail, the Guild­hall (Love Will Re­main).

All the songs are of dis­tinctly dif­fer­ent gen­res, but all are in­spired by the city, its build­ings and char­ac­ters, from an An­glo Saxon queen (Aethelflaed) to a Vic­to­rian miser (Jemmy Wood in Coals), and all are the re­sult of col­lab­o­ra­tions with mu­si­cians, vo­cal­ists, po­ets and song­writ­ers that Ge­orge has come across dur­ing his 19 years in the city.

“Part of my prac­tice is to in­volve other peo­ple,” he says. “I can do stuff on my own, but I al­ways think it lacks.”

I think he’s show­ing im­mense hu­mil­ity when he says his solo work is lack­ing, but it’s ev­i­dent that Ge­orge does have a tal­ent for bring­ing out the best in other peo­ple’s cre­ativ­ity. I would dearly love to men­tion ev­ery­one in­volved in SPA­CES, but they are le­gion and all play an equally im­por­tant part in stitching to­gether the fine tapestry of sound­scapes that make up the project. I’d cer­tainly rec­om­mend vis­it­ing the well de­signed web­site, though, lis­ten­ing to the songs, watch­ing the gor­geous videos, read­ing the lyrics, and find­ing out more about the peo­ple in­volved.

Ge­orge’s aim was that he would add his own mu­sic to the wor­ship and per­for­mances that have taken place in Glouces­ter’s his­toric build­ings over the cen­turies.

“Without be­ing pre­ten­tious about it,” he says, “in a hum­ble way I want to make some mu­sic in those spa­ces and leave a legacy. I’ve lived here long enough, I think, to feel like I’m rooted to it.

“If I make mu­sic and in­volve other peo­ple and ap­proach it in the way I do, then I think that some­how I’m adding to that canon of mu­sic that goes back hun­dreds, maybe thou­sands, of years.” • The trail map (by Glouces­ter­based il­lus­tra­tor Holly Mae Gooch) to­gether with a free CD of the SPA­CES com­po­si­tions can be picked up from Glouces­ter’s Tourist In­for­ma­tion Cen­tre from Septem­ber 5. www.spaces­glouces­ter.com

• The SPA­CES launch event is on Wed­nes­day, Septem­ber 5, 7-8.30pm. Free tick­ets can be ob­tained from the Guild­hall Box Of­fice: 01452 503050, glouces­tertick­et­shop.co.uk

• The SPA­CES project is part of Glouces­ter His­tory Fes­ti­val, which runs from Septem­ber 1-16. Visit glouces­ter­his­to­ryfes­ti­val.co.uk

SPA­CES map (Il­lus­tra­tion: Holly Mae Gooch) ABOVE:

PRE­VI­OUS PAGE: ‘Aethelflaed’ from the Spa­ces project be­ing per­formed in St Michael’s TowerBE­LOW, LEFT TO RIGHT: ‘Il­lu­mi­na­tions’ from the Spa­ces project be­ing per­formed in Black­fri­ars ; Ge­orge Moorey out­side Glouces­ter Cathe­dral, one of the ‘Spa­ces’ venues

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