Contemplation, meditation and cabaret silliness with Bounder and Cad
- Credit: Archant
From choral evensong in Hampstead, to satirical cabaret and pilgrimages, versatile performer Guy has his finger in many pies
Everybody has portfolio careers these days – or, as we used to say, they job around. But few portfolios come so diverse as that of Guy Hayward who has been jobbing around NW3 for years: singing in Hampstead Parish Church Choir, setting up an organisation to promote contemporary pilgrimage, and running a website devoted to the culture of choral evensong.
It’s enough to be getting on with. But beside all those things, Hayward is one half of a decidedly upmarket cabaret duo called Bounder & Cad whose songs – lampooning everything from dodgy politics and Mary Berry to pretentious North West London mums (B&C live dangerously in their choice of subjects) – have been getting noticed.
They’re about to play Brasserie Zedel, the eatery and platform space near Piccadilly Circus. And in truth, they get around. 10 Downing St and Highclere Castle have been recent venues.
Which is Cad and which is Bounder isn’t obvious. But the other half of the act answers in real life to the name Adam Drew. And like so many stage partnerships they met at Cambridge where Drew was reading classics and Hayward reading music - before staying on for a doctorate in the dynamics of group singing and its contribution to community.
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This was serious stuff. But in between long hours at the library they started doing what Hayward calls “Ratpack repertory: Sammy Davis Jnr and Dean Martin standards that we sang at May Balls.
“Out of that, Bounder & Cad took shape, playing the London club scene, and turning out to be something in the tradition of Kit & the Widow - or before them, Flanders & Swann - although that was more by coincidence than planning. It took us a while to discover exactly what we were and how to do it”.
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At the same time Hayward was discovering something very different: the surviving remnants of medieval pilgrim routes in Britain, which he’s actively involved in resurrecting - “not just as a church-related thing”, he says, “but more broadly as a meaningful, dedicated act that invests walking with spiritual purpose”.
He’s set up a website, britishpilgrimage.org , to encourage people to explore the possibilities. And he’s equipped it with a sister website for his other spiritual interest, choral evensong.
A gazeteer of places that perform it regularly, choralevensong.org grew out of his experience at Hampstead Parish Church. And its success rides on the curious fact that while fewer people than ever identify themselves as churchgoers, there’s been a significant increase in attendances at sung, cathedral-standard liturgy – with a surge in the listening audience for Radio 3’s weekly broadcasts of choral evensong.
“For anyone in search of a contemplative, meditative space that doesn’t require too much allegiance to theological dogma but does provide inspiring music, choral evensong ticks all the boxes”, says Hayward.
“It’s a great tradition, and organisations like the Friends of Cathedral Music do a sterling job of keeping it going, maintaining the supply. But they’ve not had the resources to work on the demand. That’s what our website tries to address.
How evensongs and pilgrimages fit alongside sharp-tongued cabaret routines is debatable. But Hayward says they “work together with a weird sort of synergy. At Bounder & Cad gigs I often talk about pilgrimage, and vice versa. The sheer silliness of the one and perceived earnestness of the other somehow complement each other”.
So if you make it along to Zedel, look beyond the laughs. There might just be a spiritual awakening somewhere in the banter.
At Zedel, March 29 and April 27, brasseriezedel.com . Hampstead Parish Choir sing choral evensong, Sundays 6pm and a complete Matthew Passion, with orchestra, Apr 2 at 6pm.