of current projects, projects to come and maybe a little bit about
past projects ...
HAPPY NEW YEAR (academic, that is) to you all and especially
to friends and supporters of DeeP Music. To whom it may concern
- thank you for the work!! The
News of the Victory was busy at the beginning of the month with
private bookings for some "special" birthdays in West
Norfolk and in Yarmouth and on both occasions the band acquitted
themselves in the usual style. That in itself was an amazing achievement
since two days before the first of these September bookings Ivan
was attacked by a swarm of angry wasps who helped him fracture his
arm at the elbow. Such is Ivan's musicianship that only those who
spend an unhealthy amount of time studying our live performances
would have noticed any difference. What a trooper.
was invited to call for Peach Fruit at a ceilidh for a corporate
function at the beautiful Eynsham Hall near Witney in Oxfordshire
last weekend. Not only did we get to play for people from all over
Western Europe, but the host organisation arranged the evening meal,
accommodation and breakfast in the Grade II listed manor house set
in three thousand acres. I could get used to this. It certainly
beat driving home at three am.
this term starts off with sessions at Walpole Cross Keys School
where the staff has a new head teacher, Stuart Graver. Best wishes
to Stuart in his new school in the wild west of Norfolk. We've begun
work on new composing projects and even the new reception children
are getting into the groove.
Tour of Britain cyclists came through Hunstanton on the 16th September.
A couple of days before that Steve Bingham and I were invited
into Redgate Junior School in Hunstanton to begin to put
together a new composition with the aid of the year five pupils
played primarily on bits of bicycles. The performance took place
on the Thursday morning that the tour passed through the town. Normally
I would say that Hunstanton is not really the kind of place that
one happens to be just passing through. Surely most people arrive
there through intention.
King's Lynn Community Samba Band had its first rehearsal
of the year on Thursday,16th. Much as I love playing the usual repertoire
it really is time we started something new. Over the summer I put
together a new rhythm based on the West African gong line employed
by Steve Reich in his Clapping Music for Two Performers. The first
rehearsal went better than I hoped, although I'm not sure what they
dancers will make of it when they hear it!
was recently invited back to Leverington Primary School near
Wisbech to teach four steel pan workshops with the new year five
class. Sadly, their regular teacher is unavailable, but in the meantime
it has been fun playing pan again. I am very much looking forward
to my second visit there later this week.
later this week I am looking forward to a return visit to Swaffham
Infant School, where we'll enjoy a morning of singing and composing
new music on a theme of "Birds" for their class topic.
out for information about DeeP Music workshops shortly to be included
in the new School-Select directory due to be published for several
counties in the east, the south-east and the south over the next
to the end of a fantastically busy couple of months with school
and community music projects, The News of the Victory, Hoofbeat,
The King's Lynn Community Samba Band, Beatroot and other
events too, including a filming project, Common Ground, a community
film project with the Field
Theatre Group in Littleport, Cambridgeshire. The project
took three years in the planning and features a cast of more than
50 people, many of whom had never acted before. The film, which
is directed, filmed and produced by Deborah Curtis, Jennifer Stevens
and Peter Harmer, focuses on Fenland life at the turn of the last
century and is the result of painstaking research and local story
gathering. Common Ground was filmed over eight months in various
locations in Littleport and Wicken Fen.My part in the process was
initially to teach members of the cast a Fenland-type brush/broom
dance, but somehow I found myself in the film too. What a fascinating
summer saw the usual run of Children's
Our World Festivals organised by the indefatigable Gordon
Phillips. I ran back-to-back instant samba sessions outdoors in
for maybe five thousand people at Marham, Taverham and Sutton Bridge
(the festival's first landing in Lincolnshire). The Marham/Swaffham
area also requested some singing, so I proposed helping the children
compose a new song. Year 6 pupils at Marham Junior School came up
with some great ideas which we put together as music and lyrics
and I sang the song with some eight hundred people at the festival.
With its strong humanitarian and environmental message it was a
moving experience. In addition to the usual Our World Festivals
we also had an Our World Festival based on British traditions at
Ashbeach School, Ramsay St Mary, near Huntingdon. It made a great
change to spend the day singing the traditional songs of England
that I learned from my mother and when I was at school. I've always
wanted to sing The Tailor and the Mouse in Ramsay (what ambitions
I have!). This is as close as I may get for a while. Quite unexpectedly
I found myself back in Ashbeach School a few weeks later as a stand-in
caller for George Stevenson (get well soon, George) at a retirement
party for the head and deputy with what I think may have been a
version of The Dennis Cuddles Starlight Band ...
addition to the usual blocks of work at Walpole Cross Keys and Yaxham
(thanks again for the work, my friends) and in addition to those
already mentioned I've enjoyed visits to schools in Ingoldisthorpe,
Castle Acre, Necton, Narborough, Swaffham, Saham Toney, Downham
Market and Mundesley. The pupils of Year 6 and an after-school group
of pupils along with older and younger family members connected
with Mundesley Junior School, along with musicians Melanie and Ruth
from the City of London Sinfonia came together to perform their
devised pieces under the title of Chatter! Chatter! Chatter! I worked
with the two groups from the school's community for several weeks
over two or three months to devise the two pieces we performed at
a very fine concert in Knapton Church in June. Alongside the instrumental
work I was composing with the groups, Jane Wells was working with
Year 3 pupils from the First School to devise new vocal sections
which we incorporated into the piece by the after-school group.
Year 6 pupils played a separate piece that had it's origins in our
discussions about "Who LIves Here?" Melanie and Ruth joined
us just before the concert to add some wind and brass colours to
the pieces. The results were very satisfying. It was good to see
the pupils make so much progress and become such confident performers.
Thanks to Norfolk Music Works passing this interesting work on this
project my way
250 key stage one pupils in the Downham Market area gathered together
for their annual Infant Music Workshop over two mornings in June.
Unusally for this event the weather was fine. Unfortunately, owing
to extensive building works at Clackclose Primary School, we couldn't
go out to enjoy it! I've been leading these gatherings annually
since 1987 and it is still just as much fun as it ever was. I like
a challenge and, this year, the teachers decided that I had to find
two mornings worth of songs to fit the theme "Time". Thank
you, teachers. A special thank you to Tina Neale for organising
the event so smoothly that all I had to do was to answer e-mails,
prepare the songs and turn up to lead the mornings! Great fun!!
I am looking forward to working for the first time with students
at the Noise
and Chance School of Dance in King's Lynn to compose and
record new music for a new dance piece.
embarrassing pause while I remember to let you all know what's been
happening. Many apologies!
short, the year has been a round of school and community music
workshops, ceilidhs with The News of the Victory, Beatroot,
Hodmedod and an almost Hodmedod line-up for an apprentice
clergypersons gig last Saturday while Hoofbeat
has been gearing up for a short rural tour which kicks off this
week. The Hoofbeat tour will see us playing village halls in
Hindolveston, Norfolk - 13th May at 8pm
Coddenham, Suffolk - 14th May at 7.30pm and
Welborne, Norfolk - 15th May at 7.30pm.
The shows will feature our mix of new and old, far and near music.
We'll be including some of my compositions ("Junkanalia",
"Was It Ever Like This", "Ray's First Day"
and "The Culinary Terrorist") and some of Jane Wells'
compositions and arrangements ("On the Hoof", "Too
Way Too", Kurt Weill's Mac The Knife and Tango; medieval
composer Machaut's "De Petit Po" and "Dame, De
Qui Toute Ma Joie") as well as popjazzical music by other
local composers and music from the Caribbean, South Africa, Bulgaria,
Macedonia, Venezuela and India.
of this year's projects, Rural Rhythms, has been
devised in conjunction with Norfolk Music Works and The
City of London Sinfonia. I've been working in Mundesley
Junior School and we are busy preparing a piece that we'll
showcase in the area's Griffon Festival at Knapton in Norfolk
in June. As well as working with pupils in school time there after
school group also includes families and children from the first
school next door.
the beginning of the year I have also been working at Woodlands
Primary School in Bradwell, near Great Yarmouth on a project
sponsored and supported by Creative Partnerships. Apart from the
developing music side of this project I have had the chance to
work with artist, film-maker and animator, Matthew Harrison and
Dr Ken Farquhar who is a science/maths/performance practitioner.
If you aren't sure what one of those is, think street theatre
with guerilla science. It is always great fun working with others
and I look forward forward to working with both Matthew and Dr
Ken at some point in the not-too-distant future. The pupils and
teachers at Woodlands have been fortunate to enjoy some amazing
activities, including dinosaur hunts, building a huge pyramid
and creating animated stories with musical soundtracks.
related to music, but I have just returned from a trip to New
York with twenty-three school students from Haute-Savoie, in France.
We stayed at the International Youth Hostel in NYC and experienced
the delights of free music performances in Central Park, Washington
Square and Battery Park, saw the streets and venues made legendary
in folk, jazz and popular music and paid a visit to the amazing
Museum of Modern Art. The trip was unexpectedly extended through
the activity of Eyjafjallajökull, but we were only five days
late returning our young charges to their grateful families. If
ever you find yourself in New York I have to recommend breakfast
at the Moonrock Café!