The Great Connect

“The Universe provides us with such awe and wonder yet in recent decades humanities response has been to begin to terminate the planet – the facts of climate change are indisputable. We can no longer see ourselves as separate and need to respond in an holistic, inclusive way.”

Steve Mortimer, Black Chapel

Originally Inspired by quantum physics and the idea that we are made of the same elements as everything in the universe Black Chapel (Steve Mortimer)  set out to explore the theme of connection; raising questions about our relationships to ourselves, each other, nature and the planet through a multi-media performance Connect.

Beginning with ‘The Flame’ which captures the birth of the universe in a story like version of the Big Bang the experience unfolds into a sonic and visual journey which weaves through layers of connection and interdependence. Using sound and video clips coupled with poetry, rap and newly composed tracks we are invited to consider a host of questions ranging from  our place in the world to the delicate fragility of the eco-systems we are part of, links between the generations and sustainability as a form of justice.

As Dave manager of Hotbox said:

“seeing the show is both thought provoking and moving, it isn’t just about music it is giving people an experience and an opportunity to reflect. You can dance to it – and two of the tracks have been signed by dance label Krafted- but it is about much more than that.”

Steve feels it is no coincidence that several of the tracks have lyrics related to breath as the significance of breathing has grown in recent months, with the killing of George Floyd, the COVID experience and even the unexpected benefit of improved air quality as the world moved into lockdown.  With the original event itself having to be re-imagined due to COVID19 the whole project seemed to grow in importance with tracks referencing the impact of the virus and those such as ‘Outside’ reflecting the experience of lockdown.

For many of the artists involved being part of the project took on a new meaning with several commenting how much they had valued the opportunity to sing or make music again. Coming together as a collective with something positive to focus on at a challenging time has been hugely energising. Feelings of loss at not being able to connect with a live audience have been tempered through the joy in finding some creative release through singing, writing and a chance to perform.

Martin Jeffries, promoter feels the project is so timely:

“Connect is without doubt one of the most relevant things I have ever worked on. The songs really resonate with people’s lived experience and they are so strong and varied which holds your interest throughout the show….having watched the rehearsals I have been surprised that several are real earworms”

Although there is a lot of thinking and research behind the project as an experience it is inspiring and uplifting. With stunning visuals, powerful, catchy and varied music the performance is designed to flow and enable people to feel part of something. The show fittingly ends with Death Valley Sunset (Sunscreem) a track which reminds us of the beauty and hope to be found in connection and balance.

The show will be livestreamed on 1st November on HotBox Channel

Connect is funded by Chelmsford County Council and is part of their new Future City Programme and Essex 2020 Year of Science & Creativity


Connect is brought to you by Black Chapel Collective and includes:

  • THE FLAME feat Katie Deverell
  • GOLDEN feat Ce Ce Xavier
  • WITHIN feat Ce Ce Xavier
  • SO FREE feat Kelli Marie Sellwood
  • BREATHE (such a long long way) feat Rachel Brooks
  • OUTSIDE feat Safe Nath
  • BREATHE (silence is storm) feat Helen Connelly
  • TEMPLE feat Lula Hemmings & Deep Yoga Beats Yoga Movement
  • HIVE feat Sara Mortimer Bass Guitar Steve Mortimer
  • THE SECRET feat Daniela Rhodes
  • DEATH VALLEY SUNSET Lucia Holm (Sunscreem), Ce Ce Xavier & Lula Hemmings

Speech samples, words and references from:

Rupert Sheldrake, Matthew Fox, Katie Deverell, Martin Jeffries, Lynn Excell, Dean Nicholson and Tara Brach.


Inspired by interviews with

Professor David Wilkinson from Durham University – PhD in Astrophysics /Fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society. Author of several books on the relationship between science and religion, and a regular contributor to Thought for the Day on BBC Radio 4.

Rev Angela Tilby, an author and Anglican priest, who is Canon Emeritus at Christ Church, Oxford . Angela Tilby spent 22 years as a producer within the BBC’s Religious Department and also wrote the highly influential book Soul: God, Self and New Cosmology featuring contributions from leading experts in their field such as Stephen Hawking, Paul Davies, Brian Swimme, Thomas Berry, Matthew Fox. This book was then made into the BBC Series “Soul” – narrated by Dr Anthony Clare (a leading media psychiatrist on Radio and TV).

The event is also drawing on research and sources from:  Robert McFarlane (Underland: A Deep Time Journey), Stephen Fry (Mythos), scientist Rupert Sheldrake Theologian Matthew Fox , Geologist Thomas Berry , Buddhist Teachers such as The Dalai Lama & Thich Nhat Hanh, Pedram Shojai (The Urban Monk), Sam Harris (Waking Up), Florence Williams (The 3 day Effect)  and others

Also listen to an interview with Steve Mortimer on the Essex 2020 Podcast, where you get to go behind the scenes of the UKs biggest celebration of science and creativity.