A SONG prompted by the UK’s hosting of the G7 summit in Cornwall next month and emanating from Truro Cathedral is resonating with children around the world.
The song, “Gee Seven”, is written by Sir Tim Rice, set to music by Peter Hobbs, and arranged by Joseph Wicks for the Truro Cathedral Choir. It was released on Friday on Spotify and other streaming platforms.
The “Sing2G7” project grew out of a vision shared by the cathedral’s director of music, Chris Gray, and a chorister parent, Esmé Page, to “put children’s voices at the heart of G7 and make the summit relevant to their young lives”.
The ambition is to have 50,000 young singers posting their rendition of the song online, coming together for a “mega-Zoom” global rehearsal before the summit starts on 11 June. By Friday, 12,000 children had already signed up from 18 countries, including 60-70 Cornish primary schools. The Truro choristers’ dream is to be invited to sing it to the world leaders in person, with choirs from the G7 nations patched in via Goonhilly Satellite Earth Station.
“We bounced ideas around getting children’s voices heard at the summit and decided the easiest way to bring people together across different cultures was song,” said Mr Gray on Thursday. As patron of the choir, Sir Tim had been the obvious man to approach. “We didn’t think we would get him, but we thought we would ask. He was very willing and receptive, and it was very quickly a partnership.”
The song is catchy and quirky, described by Mr Gray as “an extravagant romp round the number seven throughout history. In most of it, he is setting what the leaders are doing into a cosmic context, with the seven wonders of the ancient world, seven stormy seas — lots of number sevens.
“It’s a great way of engaging children: not too heavy for the age group, just a way of bringing them into knowing what the G7 is, so that they ask more questions.”
Nor is it overtly political. The most political it gets, says Mr Gray, is the last stanza: “Let nation speak to nation/Don’t let the others down/ Don’t forget the not so fortunate/Or we’ll run you out of town.”
Mr Gray continued: “Greta Thunberg is on the video to represent young leadership, but we’re deliberately not using the children to make a statement about climate change. It’s about encouraging them to aspire to leadership and engage with the issues.”
For the 35 choristers — boys between 8 and 13, and girls between 13 and 18 — making the video has been an experience never to be forgotten. It is shot by the renowned film-maker Chris Yacoubian, with the sound engineer Andrew Gemmill, and all filmed under strict social-distancing conditions.
“It’s been wonderful for them after going through the last year of pandemic,” said Mr Gray. “The choir are in their cassocks — we didn’t want to compromise on that — and we use both piano and organ in colourful ways; but we don’t want to make religion a barrier.” The choir school has produced educational resources on the website for schools to use.
The Dean of Truro, the Very Revd Roger Bush, said that the cathedral was very proud of the project. “The production values are of the highest order,” he said on Friday. ”There are some stunning perspectives looking down from the roof, which have brought the building to life in ways that you don’t normally see.
“We wanted something that wasn’t owned by the cathedral but could be widely dispersed and of real interest to the summit coming next month. It’s not overtly religious, but the values that drive it forward to engage younger people and school-age children are at the heart of what we are trying to do. It’s a melodious message for the summit members when they come next month.
“And anyone who gets Pythagoras into a pop song has my respect.”