Corey Mwamba

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Nature's Glory, Fancy's Child

This spoken-word and music project was a musical biography of Ignatius Sancho, commissioned by Decibel Live and granted financial assistance from Arts Council England.

The original press description

The name of Ignatius Sancho is well-known to those who even have a passing interest in black British history: he was the first reported African to vote in Britain, and wrote erudite prose against the wrongs of slavery. His intelligence and humanity gave weight to the arguments of anti-slavery campaigners in England.

But how much do we know about him? What effect is his stance of positive action through voting and rhetoric having today? What was his true place in British society; was he truly seen as a noble, proud, and intelligent writer, or just as a current fancy? Is the same happening today?

In this multi-artform piece, Corey Mwamba and the Symbiosis Ensemble presented a biography of Sancho through music and narrative, using arrangements of some of Sancho's songs and new compositions.

You can read the text on Scribd.

Ignatius Sancho's score for Sweetest Bard

Press quotes

Moving in to the Dance Centre's intimate theatre it's time for Corey Mwamba and his Symbiosis Ensemble to perform 'Nature's Glory, Fancy's Child' - an ambitious suite inspired by the famous 18th century African-born Ignatius Sancho. Ambitious, not just because of the scale of the suite - 12 instruments and an extensive narrative element delivered by Corey - also because of potential for it to become an exercise in worthiness. Thankfully the musicians deliver with subtlety and power in equal measures - the line up includes two sax, violin, trombone, piano, two percussionists and Mwamba's own exuberant vibes. The spoken word elements takes the listener through Sancho's story - from being rescued as an orphaned child on a slave ship to his celebrated life as an educated gentleman, literary figure and renaissance man of Georgian England. The moods conjured by the music are spot on - from the initial darkness of the slave-ship, through to playful and swinging grooves of the growing boy and man, on to a superbly urgent piece encapsulating his letter witnessing an infamous anti-popery riot in London. Corey and the group pull this difficult opus off with finesse and great emotive power. Derby Evening Telegraph, April 2005