By the time Paul Cann approached me in Autumn 2015 to ask me to manage The Voyage Project, most of the key elements were already in place. The music had already been commissioned and Oxford University Press were in process of preparing it for publication; the venues for the performances in Oxford and Reading had been booked, as had most of the performers; 'all' that remained to be done was to pull everything together...
From the very beginning of the project, I agreed with Paul that the aim was not just to put on a good classical concert (or two!) . Somehow we needed to ensure that the underlying aims - to highlight issues of loneliness across the generations - remained at the heart of our activities and that this was always clear to everyone we dealt with. Key to this was ensuring full support for the 'older choir' which featured in each performance alongside a youth choir and an experienced adult chamber choir.
Fortunately for me, with my many Oxford connections and distinct lack of Reading ones, the arrangements for the Reading concert were all in place and the 'older choir' for Reading was already fully engaged with the project through the sterling efforts of Dorian Edwards. Dorian had worked with Paul Cann from the very start of the project and he continued to offer wholehearted support and local expertise for everything connected to the Reading première.
With all of this in mind I decided to focus particularly on the 'older choir' from Oxford, not least because, in my view, this group represented the highest risk to the success of the project by virtue of the fact that it was the only choir which didn't already exist. The 'Voyage Choir', as it became known, was made up of volunteers from four local singing groups for older people, led by Emily Marshall. The groups met in Cowley, Botley, Witney and Faringdon for an hour a week to sing for pleasure, mostly by ear. There were very few men amongst the membership and, although they did sing in parts, there was no division into soprano, alto, tenor or bass.