We work with a diverse and exciting range of artists and partners to produce remarkable music and artistic experiences for everyone. Here are some highlights from our past and current projects:
The Ghost Train
The Ghost Train a comedy, thriller opera
Music and words by Paul Crabtree
(adapted from the play by Arnold Ridley)
The Assembly Project Opera
The Assembly Project Ensemble
Hazel Gould director
Alasdair Nicolson musical director
Brett Kasza lighting designer
Bethany Alexander executive producer
The Ghost Train, a new chamber opera by Paul Crabtree, will have its UK premiere performance in 2022. It is a new production by The Assembly Project and the first professional performance of this intriguing work.
The new opera is a treat for the whole family. A deceptively funny thriller for six singers and instrumental ensemble of twelve players, it is a witty operatic version of the classic comedy mystery and ghost story written as a play initially by Arnold Ridley (who is perhaps best known as Private Godfrey in the vintage BBC comedy Dad's Army) before being turned into a famous black and white film.
With a cast of international opera singers and musicians, the plot unfolds a melodrama about travellers thrown together by fate one stormy night at an eerie rural railway station where they learn the story of the ghost train, which is reputed to haunt the station. The music by Paul Crabtree, who has a significant reputation for music for voice, is approachable and dramatic with real clarity and full of instrumental colour.
What begins as a melodrama turns into political allegory as the group ignores repeated warnings to leave before a legendary apparition appears, bringing destruction in its wake. Increased, and more elaborately hysterical, warnings to look away if the ghost train should pass keep the travellers from realising the truth, until one of the conspirators realises she has been betrayed. With a plot that is both thrilling and highly comedic from start to finish, the original play was turned into a film in 1941 to help with the War effort, in an effort to cast suspicion on potential local Nazi sympathisers, and at the same time to jolly along the career of two struggling entertainers.
Presented in the style of a 40s radio recording, directed by Hazel Gould.
The UK premiere will be at St Magnus International Festival on 20 June 2022. Information and Tickets here.
With thanks to Laura & Greg Spivy and to The Peterson Family for their generous support.
If you are interested in booking The Ghost Train at your venue, please contact:
+44 (0)7983 521709
Faversham Music Club
We have developed a longstanding relationship with Faversham Music Club and its vibrant community choir, Faversham Voices. With them, we have created large-scale celebratory productions with and for the local community to mark Magna Carta 800 and Shakespeare 400, and a new production of the dramatic oratorio Two Sisters, a Rose, a Flood and Snow composed by our Artistic Director Alasdair Nicolson in 2019.
St Magnus International Festival & Composers' Course
The Assembly Project has worked in close partnership with St Magnus International Festival and its Composers’ Course since 2015. We were Ensemble in Residence in 2015 and 2017. Our musicians led workshops with course participants and performed world premieres of pieces created by them. We have presented a wide range of concerts and new productions at the festival since 2015. These include Carnivals and Capers, an interactive children's show with actors and mime artists that covers repertoire ranging from The Ballad of Bulbous Sniff by Alasdair Nicolson; to Saint-Saëns' classic The Carnival of the Animals; and a new arrangement for narrator and chamber ensemble of Bernard Hughes' Not Now, Bernard and Isabel's Noisy Tummy, which vividly bring to life the iconic picture books by legendary children's author David McKee. The world premiere of Carnivals and Capers saw The Assembly Project ensemble collaborating with renowned stage and Hollywood actor Jonathan Hyde, and the Natural Theatre Company. We created a beautifully evocative new touring production of Greenvoe, a radio play and musical soundscape by Alasdair Nicolson and poet Stewart Conn, based on the novel by George McKay Brown and directed by acclaimed theatre director, novelist and filmmaker James Runcie. Our collaboration with traditional musician, singer-songwriter Erik Linklater on his concept performance Writer’s Block united local amateur and our professional musicians, theatre and dance in a mixed media show. Our Peace Gardens immersive trail brought music and theatre performances to audiences in gardens across the Orkney archipelago.
Learning & Community Engagement
Community engagement is at the heart of our work and we often unite with community groups to present new work with and for local communities. We have enjoyed leading composition and instrumental workshops and masterclasses with St Magnus Composers’ Course, Palendriai Composers’ Course, Christ Church Canterbury University, and with schools. We have given performances for massed primary school audiences. We have enjoyed collaborations with Hear My Music, working with people with complex needs and/or Autism Spectrum Disorder.
We were commissioned to give a special performance for Edinburgh’s Hogmanay, taking over St Giles’ Cathedral with a site-specific promenade event for which our musicians collaborated with community choir The Mayfield Singers, dancers, traditional musicians and visual artists. In 2019, we staged a series of performances in gardens across the Orkney archipelago in our Peace Gardens Trail.