Happy Birthday, Mr Shakespeare!

Shakespeare’s birthday today, April 23rd, is being marked with the launch of a dedicated music video created by the education team of the Birmingham-based choir Ex Cathedra.

Like to the Lark – which you can see and hear at  You Tube, Twitter @E2EShakespeare; Facebook @e2eshakespeare; Instagram @e2eshakespeare – has been written by the group’s Dan Ludford-Thomas and funded by History West Midlands and the National Heritage Lottery Fund as part of the Everything to Everybody project. Ludford-Thomas’s song is peppered with quotati0ns from Shakespeare, especially Sonnet 29.

Everything to Everybody is a celebration of the Birmingham Shakespeare Memorial Library, a unique collection of Shakespeare material, and is a collaboration between Birmingham University and Birmingham City Council.

The Birmingham Shakespeare Memorial Library was founded in1868 by the non-conformist preacher George Dawson, described by Charles Kingsley as “the greatest talker in England”, who declared with the library’s opening that “The time has come to give everything to everybody”. It now has about 100,000 items including books, photographs, films, production posters, and theatre programmes.

“It’s wonderful to be working with Ex Cathedra on this new song for Shakespeare and the city” said Everything to Everybody project director Ewan Fernie. “We hope Like to the Lark will initiate a new, Birmingham-based celebration of both Shakespeare’s birthday and the city’s distinctively democratic Shakespeare heritage. 

Rebecca Ledgard, Ex Cathedra’s director of education, added that the choir’s flagship project for schools Singing Playground project enables children create songs in response to library’s collection. “As we come out of lockdown this year it is particularly important to feel the well-being effects of singing with friends. Our Like to the Lark music video is our response to a whole year of the pandemic.  It’s inspired by the publicly shared culture of Birmingham’s historic Shakespeare library: ‘let’s all live in harmony!’”

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