Royston and South Cambs duo’s Cracked Voices project to premiere in Cambridge

Cracked Voices duo Graham Palmer and Jenni Pinnock have come up with a novel way to remember forgott

Cracked Voices duo Graham Palmer and Jenni Pinnock have come up with a novel way to remember forgotten characters from our area. Picture: Terry Hartga - Credit: Terry Hartga

A series of special events are on their way thanks to a musical project by a duo from Royston and South Cambs.

Based on Graham Palmer’s original research, Cracked Voices highlights forgotten characters connected to the the area – like Servandus waiting on his lost Celtic goddess at Ashwell, the POWs celebrating Hitler’s birthday on Therfield Heath, James Lucas’s confrontation with Charles Dickens and Joyce Hatto’s scandalous recordings.

Set to music by South Cambs composer Jenni Pinnock, the songs feature quirky time signatures and memorable lines – focusing heavily on the world around us.

Graham, from Royston, said: “Trawling through the British Newspaper Archive, I came across an article from 1912 about the death of a local man called Sidney Powell. I knew instantly that what I was writing was not about some forgotten lump in the ground, it was Sidney’s story.

“A direct message, an email exchange and a meeting later, Jenni and I decided that this forgotten draper should have his own song. The following summer, sat in a concert at Meridian School with the chamber choir blasting out their joyously folky rendition of The Devil & the Draper, we thought maybe this idea might have legs.”

Jenny said: “Setting Graham’s captivating poems was both a joy and a challenge.

“Each had a specific moment, mood and place that needed to be found – which sometimes came from walking, other times playing, and sometimes just by popping into my head.

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“When looking for performers we looked for those who wouldn’t just play the dots, but tell the tales. We hoped they would take the stories and characters and bring them to life. We found that in our final Cracked Voices quartet and we’re very excited to share our final song cycle with you!”

Free pop-up talks featuring the stories behind individual songs will take place at Royston’s district museum this Saturday and the Sedgwick Museum in Cambridge on March 3, before Cracked Voices premieres at the Helmore Building in Anglia Ruskin University’s Cambridge Campus in Cambridge on March 10 from 7.30pm.

The show will also be performed at a benefit concert on April 28. Organised and hosted by the Royston Methodist Church, proceeds will go to the MindEd Trust.

For tickets go to