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Framlingham: Hit-maker’s ode to poet gets church premiere

Julian Marshall, one half of Marshall Hain, who had a 1978 hit with Dancing in the City, has composed new songs inspired by the poems of William Blake.

Julian Marshall, one half of Marshall Hain, who had a 1978 hit with Dancing in the City, has composed new songs inspired by the poems of William Blake.

A chart-topping musician is looking ahead to presenting his latest project at a Suffolk church this weekend.

Julian Marshall, who scored a number three hit with Dancing in the City as one half of Marshall Hain in 1978, was inspired by one of Britain’s greatest poets for his new work - a collection of ten songs to be performed by a “pop-up choir” at St Michael’s Church, Framlingham.

Mr Marshall, who lives in nearby Monewden with glass artist wife Arabella, was also a member of The Flying Lizards - who reached number five in 1979 with their version of Barrett Strong’s Money - before forming Eye to Eye with American songwriter and performer Deborah Berg.

For his latest composition, he enlisted 20 local vocalists to help set Blake’s poems to song. Following five workshops and a final rehearsal, Singing Mr Blake will get its local premiere at 4pm this Sunday.

The project aims to raise funds for Freemuse - a charity advocating freedom of expression in music - and profits from the concert will be donated to support the rights of musicians throughout the world.

Mr Marshall, who has run a successful teaching practice since the 1990s and lectures at several universities, moved to Suffolk 18 months ago with his wife, who grew up here and has a studio in Brandeston.

Composition is again center-stage for Mr Marshall, whose latest cantata, Angel in the Forest, was written for tenor James Gilchrist.

With his own interest in writing and supporting work that relates strongly to current social issues, Mr Marshall was compelled by Blake’s work. He said: “I’ve always found him to be a remarkable individual voice. He was rigorous in not wishing to be pigeonholed. When he talks about Innocence and Experience, it’s about how well we manage those things as we grow older.”

A suggested donation for the concert is £7. Reservations can be made at arabella.marshall@icloud.com or on 01473 737177, or you can just turn up on the day. The event is followed by tea and cake at 5pm.

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