In june 2011 I met Madeleine Shrimpton and Rosemary Hudson- two talented women who moved in next door (on the recently demolished 'Leopold Estate' in Bow, East London) and wanted to sing! I started composing music for 3 voices and Goodbye Leopold was born. We have had a beautiful sistership ever since and still find time to sing together despite nowadays all being busy with many other creative projects. There is nothing like singing with these two!
Orpheus Centre World Music Week
For the last 4 years I have co-lead a world music week for students at the Orpheus Centre in Surrey, UK. The centre's mission statement is to 'promote transition and personal development through the arts for young disabled adults to gain skills for independent living'.
Last Year I ran the project with long time collaborator and friend, James Adams.
We prepared a week that would explore traditional music from around the world, teaching some typical songs, but we left a good amount of space for some collaborative composition.
We began with a series of games and exercises which encouraged participants to explore instruments and their voices, identifying strengths and arranging ensembles.
There was no end of hidden talents, from instrumentalists and visionary arrangers to vocal gymnasts, and we ended up with some great ensembles.
Frank’s still here. Or is he? The old Frank played the guitar on stage. This Frank can’t even bring himself to take it out of the case.
Finding Frank is the story of a relationship forged through music between an elderly man with extreme Anxiety Disorder and a young music facilitator. Using the testimonies of people living with mental health issues, this performance explores how music can heal a mind in chaos.
Finding Frank was my first solo show that I wrote after a long period of interviewing people that I worked with as a music facilitator in various mental health settings. It was devised in collaboration with The Unhidden Collective - the multidisciplinary pool of artists who blend the process with the performance that I got together to make The Fish Tales of Alaska.
Frank has now had 2 runs at the Yard theatre, and shows at The Z Arts Theatre, Manchester, The Bikeshed Theatre, Exeter and will be running at The Globe Theatre in Hay on Wye in June 2015.
'The Fish Tales of Alaska’ ran at The Yard Theatre throughout November 2012. I came up with the idea after hearing audio recordings of my friend’s father telling incredible stories about his life as a fisherman in Alaska. I was also dying to collaborate with dance and make a piece inspired by the idea of man vs nature and so seeing as this friend- Frances Donohoe, is also a dancer, we decided to start working together. Our team grew into The Unhidden Collective- www.theunhiddencollective.com and the piece turned into a multi media extravaganza which was an exciting and informative experience all round..
‘The Fish Tales of Alaska is a collaborative multicultural enquiry that, through the story of one fisherman’s life, looks at how cultural heritage is embedded in legend and how the stories are passed down to us. It is about the loss of culture and roots in the face of globalisation.
Snap Shots Songs was a commission from the SHM Foundation and the Barbican. My role as Creative Facilitator and Choir Leader involved various responsibilities: I auditioned 300 people and formed a 50 strong choir. This choir was my dream choir! People from all walks of life and an age range of 11 to 87 all with one common passion- singing. I helped facilitate the collaboration between the composer Stuart Hancock and the choir members in the making of a song cycle on the theme of ‘Zeitgeist’. The project also involved the Barbican Young Poets, Drumheads, Only Connect (www.onlyconnect.london/), Body and Soul (www.bodyandsoulcharity.org/) and the LSSO. I helped facilitate the creative relationship between these groups and Stuart and then helped him refine the material these groups came up with. I rehearsed the choir for the months prior to the performances which were held in April 2014 at Barbican’s Milton Court Concert Hall. I sang with the choir for the performances and conducted them, the orchestra and other groups for the Finale.
At Sixes and Sevens’ was a commission by the Honourable Irish Society in collaboration with Pulitzer- Prizewinning Poet Paul Muldoon and the composer Mark- Anthony Turnage. I lead the creative and vocal work for the Cantata of young singers and performed with them at the world premier held at The Guildhall in Londonderry in July 2013.
‘Duet for two bicycles’ was included in the ‘Duets’ element of the exhibition ‘Laurie Anderson, Trisha Brown, Gordon Matta-Clark: Pioneers of the Downtown Scene, New York 1970s.’ 3 March – 22 May 2011 at the Barbican Centre.
I collaborated with Gabriel Dubois (Visual Artist) to produce an audiovisual piece mirroring a human relationship. The dance between two people in motion is a representational chart. The uncertain balancing act in which compromise, control, leading and following, and their varying paces are framed through the lens of a video camera attached to the back of their bicycles on one of their ritualistic rides. Their immediate environment and its mechanical rhythm is an interesting reflection of the urban state and our behavioural patterns within it. The delicate execution of the duet exposes the subtleties of human relationships in all its complexities in a beautifully simple way. As Trisha Brown has continued to explore the nature of motion and to choreograph dances based on everyday movements, so we are exploring the nature of motion within relationships based on an every day cycle ride- a mundane everyday activity that once exposed becomes far from mundane. It becomes an art form, a virtuosic dance capturing the turns, the over taking, the swaps, the pace, the light, the breath. The beauty of repetitive gestures. The elements of narrative and duration central to Laurie Anderson’s work is also referenced in this work as the cycle ride tells the story of two people finding their way together within the time frame of how long it takes to reach a their destination. Through a short film accompanied by a jointly composed musical score inspired by each other’s sonic observations of the journey, a duet for two bicycles takes the viewers on their own journey of embracing their everyday encounters.
“Vivacious and Seductive” Dr Sarah Wilson, Courtauld Institute.
In May 2014 I spoke at a symposium about the effects of participating on the arts on people living with mental health issues and what we can learn from how we are using the arts to benefit such people in the U.K and in Brazil.
The work of Dr Vitor Pordeus is inspiring to me and I would very much to work with him and learn more from him in the future. I believe his work to be critical to the future lives of people in mental health communities world wide.
More about his work here-