From L to R: Fiona Talkington, Thomas Strønen, Jackie Oates, Zsuzsi Lindsay, Hannah James, Helen Jukes

Friday night was a BIG NIGHT for the Reading Fringe. Conversations with Trees was a unique musical collaboration specially curated by Fiona Talkington with Thomas Strønen, Hannah James and Jackie Oates. The group had only been brought together a few days before and delivered a thoughtful, tense and emotional piece which was rapturously received by the audience in St Mary’s Minster.

Thomas Strønen is a jazz drummer and composer from Norway, Hannah James a singer, accordionist and clog-dancer, and Jackie Oates is currently musician in residence at the Museum of English Rural Life (MERL) and a singer and fiddle player. They were joined by author Helen Jukes for an introductory conversation with Fiona Talkington before the musical performance began.

With occasional narrations from the pulpit by Fiona Talkington, the trio crafted an entrancing web of music, spoken word, song and wild clog-dancing. At the end there was a standing ovation from the audience as well as bouquets and champagne for the very happy performers.

Hannah James had presented a clog-dance workshop and a showing of her film ‘The Clog Maker’s Workshop‘ at the MERL the previous evening. “The clog dancing workshop was just a taster session and, of course, clog dancing is much more difficult than one would expect!” said a Katesgrove resident who attended the event. “Also we were trying out fast steps on the hottest summer day to date. Attendees ranged from children to mature adults but we all had lots of fun.”

Helen Jukes would be in conversation with with Fiona Talkington the following day at Reading Central Library talking about her book ‘A Honey Bee Heart has Five Openings‘. Both events were part of the Reading Fringe programme.

  1. Conversations with Trees
  2. Reading Fringe
  3. Thomas Strønen on Facebook
  4. Hannah James
  5. Jackie Oates
  6. Helen Jukes
  7. MERL artist residencies
  8. MERL Museum of the Intangible – The Clogmaker’s Workshop
  9. A lifetime of music in Reading with Fiona Talkington