AN Olivier Award-winning actor who stars in the Harry Potter films is set to perform alongside children in a musical production to celebrate the 300th anniversary of the birth of a celebrated novelist.
David Bradley, whose credits include Our Friends In The North, Doctor Who and Hot Fuzz, will be joined by 40 pupils from four North Yorkshire schools at York Minster for the premiere of a new composition to herald the influence of novelist and vicar, Laurence Sterne.
Sterne, who wrote The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman in Coxwold, near Thirsk, in 1759, is regarded as one of the most influential writers of English fiction.
Mr Bradley will play the speaking part of Sterne in the Arts Council-funded production based on the vicar's final sermon in 1764, composed by pianist and composer David Owen Norris.
The performance will feature period instruments Sterne would have recognised, including a square piano, a viola de gamba and a natural trumpet, concludes with the epitaph on Sterne's gravestone which gives the composition its title – Sterne Was The Man.
The Voice From The Pulpit show on October 14 will also include songs by pupils from Carlton Miniott Community Primary School, and St Peter's Brafferton, both near Thirsk, and two schools in Tadcaster, who have received coaching from choirmaster Jonathan Brigg, of the University of York.
The pupils have also toured the cathedral to help them understand the context that Sterne, who was also a prebendary of York Minster, gave his sermons in.
Professor Norris, of the Royal College of Music, said: "Sterne's epitaph says it all: Sound head, warm heart, and breast humane.
“Add to that his astonishing mind, and the fact that the man could really write, and you have something irresistible. What a privilege to set to music these brilliant phrases, pertinent and polished as a diamond."
Patrick Wildgust, curator of The Laurence Sterne Trust at the writer’s home Shandy Hall, in Coxwold, said the writer’s tercentenary provided an opportunity to focus on Sterne’s work as a preacher.
He said: “This, his final sermon preached in the British Embassy to Parisian celebrities, displays the brilliance of his mind.
“Having Sterne portrayed by an actor of such quality as David Bradley is an exciting and wonderful bonus.”
To book tickets, which cost £10, visit laurencesternetrust.org.uk