Clevedon’s very own community opera, celebrating 150 years of the historic Victorian pier.

On 24th and 25th October an exciting new community opera, ‘Time and Tide’, will be performed at Clevedon Community Centre to mark the 150th anniversary of the building of Clevedon Pier.

I stress the word community because that is exactly what it is! Professional musicians and singers, Martin Le Poidevin baritone and soprano Esther Mallett will perform alongside Clevedon’s Choral Society (a mixed voice, non-auditioned choir) Lions Brass Ensemble, North Somerset Music Service, primary school children from St Nicholas Chantry, All Saints, Yeo Moor, St Johns and Mary Elton, secondary students from Clevedon School and anyone else who would like to join in the fun.

But I can’t read music! I wouldn’t be able to learn the songs! Fear not! Such is the commitment of Elinor Cooper, Director of Clevedon’s Choral Society and organisers Mark and Claire, to making this an open access community choir that Elinor has made teach tracks of all the songs so you can practise at home as many times as you like.

Gone are the days of music belonging to the talented few! There has been a revolution in attitudes toward communal singing with groups such as the UK’s pioneering Rock Choir, the first to offer everyone the chance to sing with no audition, no experience needed and no sheet music!

So come and join the revolution!

If you’d like to join the choir at their next rehearsal then just get in touch with Elinor and she’ll arrange to get the music to you. You can easily catch up because you’ll have the songs! Here are some pictures of the last rehearsal which looked like lots of fun and the dates and times of the remaining rehearsals:

Thanks for these photos Chris is very kindly donating his time to support the ‘Time and Tide’ team. Check out his Facebook page here:

The remaining rehearsals are as follows Monday 23rd September, Monday 30th September, Monday 14th October*, Saturday 19th October*,  Monday 21st October, Tuesday 22nd Oct  is a dress rehearsal. Rehearsals always take place at the Kenn Road Methodist Church from 7.30pm to 9.30pm.

The venue for 9th October and 21st October are yet to be announced.

Still not convinced? Well there are other ways you can get involved. The team would like your memories of the pier……

As part of the process and production, they are gathering ‘sound bites’ about people’s experiences of the pier. If you have a short statement about the pier that you would like to share, then please record a clearly audible MP3 and email it to Here are some examples of the length and style they are looking for…

My great-great grandad helped to build the pier’

‘I was married on the pier’

‘My wife proposed to me on the pier’

‘The sunsets from the pier were my wife’s favourite. We’d sit together until it was all gone.’

‘Once we caught a lamprey.’ 

Please only send a clearly recorded sound file (MP3) that you are happy to have shared publicly. They will assume that sending the file is your permission for them to use your words.

The team are also looking for volunteers to help sell tickets, stage manage and act as ushers for both performances. If you are interested in getting involved, please send an email to the same address for more information.

Let me tell you a little bit about the team! Many of you will know Elinor who is a conductor, singer and classical music writer based in the South-West. Elinor is currently Musical Director of Clevedon Choral Society and a newly formed Bristol chamber choir, Spiro. She is assistant conductor for Bristol Youth Choir, and teaches singing from her home in Bristol. Elinor loves her job with the Clevedon Choral Society and is enjoying working on the ‘Time and Tide’ project..

‘I joined the Clevedon Choral Society as musical director in 2015 and it has been an absolute joy working with the choir. We’re a really varied group of people with a real range of singing abilities, we have people who have joined with very little singing experience and confidence singing alongside music teachers. We’ve all worked really hard and ‘The Time and Tide’ Project’ has come at just the right time for us because we are probably at our strongest.’

If you’d like to know more about the Clevedon Choral Society, you can check them out here:

Mark Lawrence is a composer and Musical Director who has devised and written many large-scale community pieces involving performers of all ages and levels of experience. He co-wrote Coming Home (the story of the ss Great Britain) and Cosmos for St George’s Bristol with  the third member of the team Claire Williamson. 

Mark wrote Home by Christmas which was commissioned  by Bristol Plays Music for the centenary of the outbreak of World War I and was performed at the Colston Hall by a cast of nearly 500. He was nominated for the British Composer Awards.

Mark’s involvement with ‘Time and Tide’ is very exciting for everyone including himself.

‘From a composer’s point of view it’s hugely rewarding to work on these community music projects. Performers usually come from a very wide range of ages, experiences, and backgrounds and there is a real sense of excitement as each group is rehearsed separately, then brought together in the final stages to create a dramatic whole, together with professional soloists and orchestra.  I especially enjoy combining children’s voices with adult choirs as each bring their own perspective to a piece,  both in the sound of the voices and experience of the world.

Equally as exciting is the involvement of librettist Claire Williamson. Claire has worked with Mark on a series of commissions inspired by significant landmarks and anniversaries, notably a 1914 and 1918 commemoration of World War 1; she has also written for WNO and Opera North, working with a range of age groups, abilities and cultural backgrounds.

Claire has had four poetry collections published, most recently Visiting the Minotaur which was a National Poetry Day recommendation for book groups in 2018.

Claire explained why she was enjoying it so much:.

‘Aside from the historical research (which I love, never having pursued history at school), and meeting fascinating new people, my favourite moments are when a workshop participant comes up with a line that I never would have thought of; this tends to light up the song with a new perspective.’

Mark added:

‘Time and Tide has been a special project for Claire and myself. We have tried to mould the familiar story of the Clevedon Pier’s rescue against the odds (of the elements, fashion, finance and bureaucracy!) into a human story which offers a positive vision at a time of great and unsettling change in the world around us.’

The catalyst for this project is of course the 150th anniversary of the pier. The music will reflect songs of the sea and the Victorian sea-side in a classical, yet contemporary, style. The words will include ideas from participants and convey, with the music, a sense of the winds, waves and tides. The choir will narrate the moving story of the pier, from its conception to its Victorian heyday, through its neglect, damage and near demolition in the 1970s, ending with the pier’s rescue and restoration; a moving story of survival against the odds.

The music is all original except for one hymn Psalm 182 ‘Waves rolling in from every shore’ which was sung at the opening of the pier on 29th March 1869

The funding for the project has come from the Arts Council and the Paragon Music Trust which is  is a registered music charity which administers funds left by the late Leo Reid Baker, a local businessman who was also an accomplished bassoon player. If you’d like to know more about The Paragon Music Trust, check it out here: http://

The lovely logo came about as the result of a competition amongst ‘Time and Tide’s’ partner primary schools. Edie from Eagles class, St John the Evangelist School was the winner! Here is her initial idea alongside the final logo, created in collaboration with That Copy Shop, Clevedon.

There is no question in my mind that the ‘Time and Tide’ project is going to be a fabulous success because a wealth of people have already invested an inordinate amount  of time and energy and they are loving every minute of it.

The health benefits of belonging to such a group are manifold! Singing is known to release endorphins, the feel-good brain chemical that makes you feel uplifted and happy, it improves mental alertness, concentration, and memory, it strengthens the immune system, it improves posture, it helps you sleep, it creates a strong sense of community and social inclusion…..the list of positive physiological, emotional, psychological and social benefits is endless! Yet another reason to join the ‘Time and Tide’ Team.

Having said all that, if at the end of the day for whatever reason you cannot take part in the preparations and the choir itself, do come along to one of the concerts and celebrate. You can buy tickets here: http://:


Have something to say? Leave a Reply...