Paston Footprints

Letter from Agnes Paston to her husband William, 20 April 1440

Paston Footprints is a unique, multi-faceted heritage project curated by Orchestras Live with the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment (OAE), and is a feature of North Norfolk’s contribution to the celebrations around the 600th anniversary of the first Paston letter from a period of Medieval history when an extraordinary Paston family dynasty was prevalent in the county.

In partnership with North Norfolk District Council and the shared aim for this project to engage with many people across the district, OAE held a weekend residency in early May with a range of inspirational events: early years workshops and a TOTS orchestral concert in Sheringham, care home recitals at Fakenham, Sheringham and North Walsham, a Music to your Beers pub gig at Walsingham, and a Musical Adventure Walk for families at Holt Country Park.

Some residents thought they might not be able to join in but they were soon confident players in the band… after meeting one resident 30 mins after the concert with her daughter she asked me if I was going to do more music. Her daughter said she has not remembered anything in years.
OAE musician, after performing in the care home recitals

This activity heralds the Reliving History OAE orchestral concert at St Nicholas’ Church, North Walsham on 1 July, which includes the world premiere of Agnes – a pocket oratorio, a new work commissioned for the occasion from Norfolk-based composer Sarah Rodgers. The new piece celebrates the life of Agnes Berry Paston, a particularly influential woman from the Paston story, and it is being written for the OAE to perform alongside the St Nicholas Church Choir.

During the project, students at North Walsham High School are operating as Young Promoters, helping to publicise, manage and review the orchestral events, gaining valuable creative and technical skills.

Sarah Rodgers, composer’s blog

Composer Sarah Rodgers

Sarah Rodgers has been tracking her progress throughout her composition process, over a number of blog posts. Click the links below to view.

Part one – Paston papers provide inspiration for contemporary composer

Part two – Sarah Rodgers unveils ‘Agnes – a pocket oratorio’

Part three – Paston Papers commission at halfway point

Part four – ‘Agnes’ ready for rehearsal

Listen online here to Sarah Rodgers and students from North Walsham High School being interviewed on BBC Radio Norfolk ahead of the culmination concert. (Interview begins at 2hr9min available online until 12 July 2018)

Culmination performance

The culmination performance, featuring the world premiere of Agnes – a pocket oratorio by Sarah Rodgers, took place on Sunday 1 July 2018 at St Nicholas’ Church in North Walsham.