05 Aug 2021
Tania Holland Williams image - Composer for A Song for Kent

Find out more about A Song for Kent with Tania Holland Williams

A Song for Us celebrates our communities and the power of music to bring us together. A nationwide project, Sound UK has commissioned Tania Holland Williams, in partnership with LV21, to write a new song inspired by the people of Kent.

Ahead of the premiere, we caught up with Tania to find out more about her connections to Kent and about the new song, Walking Each Other Home.

Can you tell us about your links to Kent and what it means to you?

Apart from a few years in Germany, I grew up in the seaside town of Kent. As a child I regularly walked the 6 or so miles to my nan’s house in Hythe. The route I often took went along the seafront – a road called Prince’s Parade and eventually West Parade where you can often see the sun setting behind a Martello tower in the distance.

Prince’s Parade is now under imminent threat of ruin by the developers, but West Parade is largely unchanged and there is an old bench of retreat and memory at the end of the journey.

Can you tell us about the inspiration for your song for Kent?

We are all just walking each other home. This quote by Ram Dass is the core of this piece. I have witnessed the truth of this sense of a fragile, yet essential, companionship repeatedly over the last year. It has underpinned dialogue with friends, the phone conversations that have been part of the Song for Kent project and my own observation of how we can best care for each other in times of challenge and uncertainty. 

This is an incredibly difficult time we’re all living through. What keeps you positive? And how important has creativity and music been to you?

My sanity over the last year has been found in walking the country side and swimming the seas. Sometimes alone, but preferably with a friend or two. What music and my practice has given me is a sense of motivation and hope – the possibility of imagining other places, joys and contexts when the going has been tough.

A Song for Us encourages creativity in everyone. Do you have any tips or words of encouragement for people wanting to create their own song?

Grab a pen and start writing.  Don’t start refining until you’ve got a few verses, or a chord progression. 

For me writing is like jogging or any other cardio sport – the first few minutes are the hardest, and then my body seems to understand what is required and the unnecessary bits of thinking start to fall away.

The public are also encouraged to share their favourite tracks to the music map, tracks that comfort, celebrate, commemorate or simply sum up this time. What track would you choose and why?

Loch Lomond as realised by the Cape Town Youth Choir will forever remind me of April 2020. People out walking, desperately tried to avoid each other during this early phase of Covid as we approached Easter and were asking ourselves how we could mark this traditional calendar event.

I had a vision that the whole country could blast out this joyful song through their speakers at the same time. And dance either in their gardens or houses as an alternative Easter Hymn that acknowledged our separate paths, but our future shared destination. Listen to it here.

Can you tell us about the local musicians performing your new song and how these collaborations came about?

RiverVoice Choir launched some years ago as an inclusive choir. At one point we had 5 guide dogs in rehearsals and have always maintained a policy of trying to adapt the choir to suit the needs of the members. I have been their Musical Director throughout.

Fat Lady Opera Community Chorus is Kent’s only accessible opera chorus. My role with these singers has been more that of a theatre director than musical director – they have performed new operas in Folkestone Harbour, Cheriton Light Festival, Cockpit Theatre London and Ramsgate. This year they will be performing at Folkestone Triennial. They are a fearless and warm-hearted bunch of people.

Walking Each Other Home – A Song for Kent – premieres live at LV21 on Saturday 7 August (2.30pm) and will be available online from Wednesday 11 August (12.30pm) on the Song for Kent county page.