Following the success of previous Banding Together projects with Peterborough Schools, Peterborough Music Hub will be partnering with renowned local Musical Director, Greg Arrowsmith to deliver an exciting collaborative project. Banding Together 2019 will draw on the diverse musical backgrounds of Peterborough’s students to workshop, create and perform a completely new piece of work. Greg took time out of his busy panto rehearsal schedule at the London Pallladium – working alongside Dawn French and Julian Clary – to talk to us about the project...
First of all, what is Banding Together, and how did it come about?
The idea is to go to schools and find students who have had a range of different experiences of arriving in Peterborough, and use all of these – particularly their musical experiences – to create a piece of work together over a week of workshops (28 Feb-8 Mar). Obviously we’ve got people in the city from all sorts of communities and a variety of different musical backgrounds, and the idea is to celebrate all of that variety and diversity which is often not reflected by what we see in the arts. The plan is to four schools across the city who will provide fifteen students each and then I’m going to see what they can bring to the table. For some of them, it may not be a musical experience that they bring – it could be a poem, a style of dress, it could be anything – but we plan to take all that and turn it into a piece of musical theatre. It’s going to be a very collaborative project – bringing out positive experiences from their background, their past, their family life – and sharing it with others.
What do you expect to discover in the workshops?
We’re just keeping ourselves open to what comes up. Until I get in the room with them, I really don’t know what they’re going to give me! A lot of music from different backgrounds is to do with celebrations or religious ceremonies, and often those are only experienced by those who are actually there. So, there are these pockets of wonderful music going on that we have very little idea about. My initial session will be to sit with them, get them to sing something, to play something, to clap something. It’s just a big mixing pot of ideas, which we then focus into a final project and a performance on 8 March. So, whatever happens, at the end of it 60 kids get on stage and sing, dance, play or whatever they have brought me! It’s very exciting for them – kind of a crash course in creating a new piece of art.
How important is a musical education?
The fact is, the arts is the third biggest industry in Britain and lots of people earn their living from it, so it is very important. And, of course, the skills music teaches you are far greater than just music. It’s communication, team-building, working together, listening to each other. And performing prepares you for public speaking and develops confidence. All the things you have to do when playing live music are life lessons, and of a kind you often don’t get from other activities.
Banding Together 2019
Thursday 28 February to Friday 8 March 2019
At Jack Hunt School, Thomas Deacon Academy, Ormiston Bushfield Academy, Nene Park Academy
Professional Musical Director Greg Arrowsmith and supporting musicians from Music Hub will be working with 60 students – 15 from each of the four schools – from a mixed and diverse demographic, and through a creative process will explore the students’ cultural experiences of Peterborough and how it is they have come to live here.
Students will take part in three morning or afternoon workshops at their school from 28 Feb-7 March. The final day, 8 March, will involve a bringing together of the schools’ individual pieces as well as working on a collaborative piece. Their work will be showcased in an early evening performance which is open to all.
Workshops will be held at schools followed by a final rehearsal day and concert at: The Salvation Army, 1203 Bourges Boulevard, New England, Peterborough, PE1 2AU