Press Release: Cycle of Songs

Leading musicians to celebrate visit of Tour de France with innovative Cycle of Songs project


This year’s visit of the Tour de France to Cambridge in July will be marked by an innovative and inspiring major new piece of work entitled The Cycle of Songs. Devised by the acclaimed Yorkshire theatre company Pilot Theatre with the Cambridge based Historyworks the project will feature new compositions performed by Cambridge’s choirs by leading musicians, writers, poets and composers including Michael Berkeley, Karen Wimhurst, Michael Rosen, Kirtsty Martin and Andrea Cockerton.


Commissioned by Cambridge City Council and funded by the Arts Council of England, The Cycle of Songs will be performed by local people, musicians and community choirs from Cambridge, inspired by iconic locations along the route of the race drawing on the city’s rich choral traditions and history.


The works will tell largely untold hidden stories from Cambridge’s history, and will be performed by choirs from the city in a series of live events and in a new geo-located app as part of the lead up to the celebrations for Stage 3 on the 7 July.


The Cycle of Songs project will also see the creation of a new app; a development that brings together Cambridge's rich cultural and cycling heritage with the technology that is so important to the City today. Available at the launch of the Big Weekend on the 5th of July, the geo-located app will allow people to listen to the Cycle of Songs as they follow the Tour's route through Cambridge.

All the stories have been researched and developed by Historyworks and presented to the project’s writers, rappers and poets who include Michael Rosen, Horrible Histories composer Dave Cohen, rapper Inja, and poet and spoken word artist Hollie McNish.  Each writer has further developed a researched story and created the librettos that have been given to the project’s composers and arrangers.


All of the nine songs featured in the project are based on stories inspired by iconic locations which the Tour de France will cycle past on the 7th July. These include the song "Freedom" which tells the story of Olaudah Equiano and Thomas Clarkson, two of the most prominent campaigners against the Transatlantic Slave Trade, who are both associated with St John’s College; "Unsung Women" (which will be performed by the Women of Note choir), a song about the struggle for women to be accepted at Cambridge University in the late 19th and early 20th century; and "Hooray for Hobson", the story of the Cambridge Philanthropist Thomas Hobson whose Horse rental policy inspired the phrase 'Hobson’s Choice'.


The Composers are wide ranging both culturally and stylistically, including elders from the British tradition, such as Michael Berkeley, and young musicians exploring sound technologies, such as Peter Gregson; composers adept at creating community choir anthems such as Karen Wimhurst, Rowena Whitehead, and Kirsty Martin; and finally young artists from the Aldeburgh Young Musicians programme(AYM), such as Alex Cook who has composed for Hannah Brock, a fellow AYM,  who will be performing the traditional Chinese instrument – a Guz-heng, a cross between a harp and a Zither, for which Alex Crook has underscored the vocals.


The Cycle of Songs Choir events involve more than 14 of the city’s leading choirs, including a vibrant mix of community and school choirs, college and youth group choirs.   These will include the 120 members strongThe Dowsing Sounding Collective, who are renowned for performing Scandinavian soundscapes and club anthems; then a vibrant community choir who sing a cappella called Re Sound;Chela, a choral ensemble dedicated to the learning of the unique choral tradition of Georgia;Milton Road Primary Choir, which has over 100 primary voices who will be singing with the famous King's College Choir Choristers; and the youth choirs of Ten Sing and Shout Aloud!The project will also feature the specially formed Cycle of Songs choir which is made up of members of the public, who are rehearsing to sing to the public in public!  Not all choirs involved in the events will feature on the app  


Leading up to the visit of the Tour de France there will be a series of Cycle of Songs events around Cambridge including on Saturday 21st June a Pop-up Choir event, where many of choirs that feature in the Cycle of Songs project, including the community formed Cycle of Songs choir, will be performing in the city’s Guildhall, and on Saturday 5th July hundreds of singers, including the acclaimed Dowsing Sound Collective, will feature on the main stage at the city’s Big Weekend event. The Cycle of Songs app will also be publicly launched at the event too, in a special marquee.


Cambridge is regarded as one of the UK’s leading cities for cycling with an incredible 43% of the city’s population travelling to work by bike more than three times a week. The city boasts over 80 miles of cycle lanes & routes offering a quick & easy way to travel throughout the city, whilst cutting down on the population’s carbon footprint.


For further information on Cycle of Songs visit    

If you would like a complete press release you can download a PDF here.

Press Release: Cycle of Songs


In this section