Anam Cora (Gaelic for “Soul Chorus”) is a group of devotional singers who weave the different strands of their vocal and spiritual backgrounds to create a meditative and uplifting experience.
An auspicious beginning at Norwich Cathedral in 2013 set the tone for what was to come. Invited to create a meditative piece for “The Silent Hour”, Mary Benefiel pulled together a ‘scratch’ group. The response to their singing and the quality of the ensuing silence was such that they felt inspired to continue. Thus, Anam Cora was born.
Since then, the group has developed and offered “Sung Meditations” in Suffolk and Norfolk. Over time their repertoire has grown to include a wide variety of sacred music from different traditions, as well as their own songs and poetry. By far their most unique singing are the Soundings they create in the moment.
Almost 10 years on, they have a rich back catalogue of events and material they have ‘found’ as part of their ongoing practice. Here is a taste of the work they have created:
Cley 16 Contemporary Arts Festival – “Indra’s Net”
World Peace Day Norfolk Choirs Concert – “The Eye of the Storm”
2017 Live Art Wymondham Festival – “Resonance of Reflection”
Cley 17 Contemporary Arts Festival – “The Crucible of Sound”
2017 South Bank Festival of Poetry & the Arts, St John’s Waterloo in London – “The Handwriting on the Wall” including a workshop
2018 -19 “A Pilgrimage Through the Year”
Sung meditations for each of the seasons of the Celtic Calendar
2021 The Beach Labyrinth Project – “Summer Solstice”
First outdoor event, with a soundscape created for the project exhibition
2022 -23 Recording and filming – “Sounding the Elements” video
And the future promises the release of their song recordings, as well as live events!
Visit our Bandcamp page
Stream and buy our tracks on the music streaming platform, Bandcamp.
Mary is the artistic director and chief instigator of the group’s work. With a history of creating devised work based on physical and vocal improvisation, she is delighted to set juicy lines of inquiry to spark the singers into action. Her research into the authentic voice and how to release it is ever ongoing.
Kate Hesketh Moore
Kate is a singer, drummer, photographer, wordsmith, general Renaissance Woman, and our Producer. She is currently the percussionist and occasional vocalist in a local trio and contributes to a group walking Labyrinths.
Caroline has had a career as a singer and classical guitarist and following that as a McTimoney Chiropractor. Her passion for singing and healing led to using sound in the landscape through pilgrimage with the Gatekeeper Trust. Along the way she learned to meditate. Now her great joy is combining all these elements with Anam Cora.
Singing has been important in Cathie’s life from an early age. Originally a GP, now a yoga teacher, and potter, Cathie’s singing and songwriting is grounded in sacred song, chanting and improvisation. She finds this restorative and connecting to every aspect of her being, and calming in an increasingly chaotic world.
Bee is a multi-media artist and permaculture fan, whose eco-sculpture has featured on East Anglian trails. Her singing background is jazz and A Cappella Choral, while a career in Arts Therapy means she’s at home making a mindful place through sound. With her textile hat on, she has created some beautiful outfits for the group as well as ‘dressing’ the performance space.
Our events spring from a mission to connect and a practice of listening. We listen to the prompts of the inner voice, the qualities of the group voice and the space we’re in. We’re open to the music that is singing life into existence, and trust what comes through us in the moment of connection. We believe we are part of that great music and look to ways we can allow the deeper harmonies to arise.
As such, we don’t have song books or traditional programmes. We are not a choir! Instead, we work with a theme that sets us on fire. One so full of life it launches us into new, unknown territory, to find out what we are singing about and why we are here. Along the way, songs and poetry and ideas arise which we capture and develop, as a new event starts to take shape. It is an exciting and daunting method, like any creative endeavour, full of grace and challenges that we navigate as best we can.
Our process is supported by a practice that explores the authentic voice: working with the whole range, with improvisation, movement and rhythm, songs, and chants as well as thematic prompts. All this creates the alchemy needed to connect with each other, and the music, more deeply.
Our work is also informed by trainings with: Helen Chadwick, Sylvia Hallett, and Kate Geisinger (from the Meredith Monk Foundation NYC). We also draw on the individual skills each member adds to the mix as we strive to be truer and freer in our vocal expression.
“Wherever this choir sings, their clarity seems to be absorbed by the walls and played back to the silences.”
“I have occasionally found that an experience seems to surpass words - this was my experience of Anam Cora when they sang in Norwich Cathedral. Surpassing words, the music simply acted as a conduit towards the infinite. It was stunningly beautiful.”
“To be present at an Anam Cora performance is to experience a spiritual regeneration. Neither a concert nor a religious service it is a musical meditation which engages the ear then goes straight to the soul.”
“Five star and not to be missed.”