Q Magazine

Column - How Laura Marling can conquer a cathedral

Column - How Laura Marling can conquer a cathedral
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Laura Marling will not be touring Britain‘s usual fleapits this October, oh no…

Instead the singer has opted for a far more refined and unique series of UK dates this autumn, playing only in cathedrals (in London she plays Westminster Central Hall on 26 October, which as a Methodist building doesn’t use the cathedral tag, but is still a very impressive and rarefied building).

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Marling is no stranger to more unusual venues, and size-wise she made the step up to Glastonbury’s Pyramid Stage with consummate ease.

However cathedrals seems another matter all together. Q‘s Siobhan Brennan spoke to those who know Britain’s great churches best, the choir masters and scholars who organise performances in them on a daily basis, to provide Marling with a few tricks of the ecclesiastical trade:

Louise Wayman, choral scholar, Birmingham Cathedral

Birmingham Cathedral is a baroque building, as opposed to the traditional gothic style of English cathedrals, which gives much less echo and a generally crisper sound. Although this isn’t suitable for everything it is ideal for an acoustic performer like Laura Marling. The most important aspect of choral singing is listening to other singers and making sure they stay in time and in tune, When Laura performs with other musicians and her band this is something she’ll also have to consider. External performers usually wear their own clothes, which they feel most comfortable in, assuming they aren’t too revealing or provocative!!! We feel confident that Laura Marling is the sort of performer who will respect our dual identity as a place of worship and a concert venue”

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Neil Taylor, Musical Director, Sheffield Cathedral

“There’s nothing particular Laura needs to be aware of, Sheffield is actually quite an easy acoustic to work with – I mean, as long as she’s forward of the Chancel Arch but I expect she will be, because there will be staging and stuff so that’s fine. So nothing to worry about, it’s a nice space to sing in. I think Laura doing a gig here is good, the more people we get in there the better! I think the buildings been here for hundreds of years and been used for all sorts of things in the past, so I don’t have any issue with it being used for anything at all – within reason…”

Jeremy Suter, Carlisle Cathedral

“Carlisle Cathedral’s acoustics are excellent and I am sure Laura will have no difficulty in projecting her voice. We do however recommend that artists use a PA system when speaking to the audience. I am sure Laura will bear in mind the Cathedral’s function as a place of worship when selecting her wardrobe.”

So it seems as long as she steers clear of Chancel Arches, projects her voice and doesn’t wear a bikini for the encore, Laura Marling should be right at home in our cathedrals. And if she can pull that off, surely she’s a shoe in for Abide With Me at next year’s FA Cup Final?


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