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From the earliest age I felt a calling to compose music. I loved nature too, and it fed my spirit. With my family’s strong support, I studied piano and organ at Canford school, then Classics at Cambridge. Next, I moved into science – a doctorate in historical seismology at Imperial College – at the same time freelancing as an organist and choir director. While I enjoyed this, I became worried that often performance and spirituality were completed disconnected. I started writing organ pieces, connecting different feasts of the Christian year with the seasons and elements. This was the beginning of Cosmos.
In 1997 I became organist and choirmaster of St. Dominic’s Priory in North London. I grew to love the daily biorhythm of chanted prayer of the Dominican friars and sisters who served this Catholic parish, their honest and intelligent engagement with real issues, their compassion and their hope, and in 2000 I entered the Dominican Order. Formation as a friar and Catholic priest was a time of spiritual journeying, studying theology and philosophy – which taught me both the value and the limitations of words – and meeting and working with people of many different cultural and religious backgrounds. I was enriched by Middle Eastern music and folk traditions, African drumming and above all dance: I saw that for Cosmos truly to unite heaven and earth, it must include this most bodily-spiritual of arts.
In 2006 I moved back to the London Dominican community who were a great support, and in the visionary artists’ fellowship of the Bard School thebardschool.blogspot.com I completed Cosmos and got the network I need to produce it. After a lot of struggle, in July 2008 the miracle happened, and Cosmos was introduced to a large and appreciative audience. This was very much a community project, and members are still in touch and working together.
From 2009 to 2011 I was based in Paris, doing a Master’s in Theology of the Arts with a focus on spiritual cosmology. I’m now turning this into a book (watch this space!). During this time I also worked with the K622 and Ephata dance companies, and did Cosmos on the labyrinth of Chartres cathedral with Indian dancer Pravarshan.
In 2011 I moved to St. Dominic's, Newcastle-upon-Tyne to be university chaplain. I am also excited and honoured to have become Patron of a new dance company, the Eliot Smith Company eliotsmithcompany.com, Eliot is a young, visionary dancer who is profoundly attuned to the spiritual value of dance and the human needs of performers. He and his company will be producing one Cosmos event every year. On 13th October they performed Eliot's Missa, which included Angels from Cosmos, to a packed church at St. Dominic's and we got a very good review! www.journallive.co.uk
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