‘The long sobs of the autumn violins wound my heart with monotonous languor’ – Paul Verlaine

(A call sign to the French Resistance to announce the D-Day landings in Normandy)


The Long Sobs : February 2022

Coventry City of Culture


This is our main contribution to Coventry City of Culture, the climax of over 10 years’ work! Joe began by recording free improvisations in some of the City’s historic settings – the Guildhall, the Lunt Fort, and of course the Cathedral.  Now he is building a full-length performance from those beginnings, involving the band, a choir and orchestra.  As with other of Joe’s compositions he has always intended to perform this with dancers, actors and images.

We are delighted to be in partnerships with Orchestra Of The Swan, the dynamic chamber orchestra based in Stratford on Avon, and the Albany Theatre, Coventry, where the event will be staged.  Also involved are the playwright Alan Pollock, Ben Haines recording engineer, David Stoll composer / arranger and stage designer Alan Bartlett.  Rebecca Morland Arts Management is assisting with fundraising.

Progress and planning

We engaged Kathi Leahy (Imagineer Productions) in 2019 to undertake an initial feasibility study with funds from Heart of England Community Foundation.  A recent development grant from Arts Council England is enabling us to work up the project in full. We are in close contact with the City of Culture Trust also.

Like everyone, we have experienced changes and delays as a result of COVID-19, which is still making an impact on our current and future work.  We have therefore re-scheduled our production from November this year to February next.  We hope that we can complete every aspect and deliver a truly memorable and unique event within the context of an outstanding feast of cultural experience.

How It Started

Joe has been working on this project for over a decade!  Coventry music hound Pete Clemons caught up with him to find out how it all got started.  You can read Pete’s blog post here.

Great news from The Albany Theatre!

Coventry City Council has just awarded the Albany Theatre £2.9 million to develop its facilities!  The work is getting under way very soon, with a view to being completed by the Autumn.  It will provide additional performance and rehearsal spaces, improve the café and audience facilities.

This is a terrific boost for the Albany, which is a community-run venture and has come through some uncertain times.  Under its new professional leadership it is gaining support for its potential role in the City’s cultural future.  Naturally this will be all the better for The Long Sobs too!

You can read more about the development plans for the Albany Theatre here.

The planned new main entrance

Engaging the community

City of Culture has set a high priority on engaging with the community, and The Long Sobs is no exception.  All our partners are committed to this way of working, and exciting plans are afoot!  These will include intergenerational work with young people and elders sharing and comparing their life experiences.  We will focus particularly on survival of conflict, migration, arrival, and re-building, all themes arising from Coventry’s war-time ordeal.  The fruits of this will be absorbed into the composition and staging.

There will also be many opportunities for community participation – as performers, technicians, and facilitators.  The Albany has active links with the community already, and is expanding its role as a centre for engagement and learning about the arts.  More on this soon!