Julian Lloyd Webber announced for-Wards project

Conservatoire Principal endorses community music project.

Following its first successful year Royal Birmingham Conservatoire, part of Birmingham City University, announced details of Year 2 of for-Wards a major large-scale city-wide music project celebrating Birmingham’s diverse communities.

Commencing October 2017 in 24 Wards across six Districts, six specially commissioned professional composers with Birmingham connections will collaborate with participants from 24 community groups.

Participants will be asked to share stories and experiences from their own community through a series of music workshops with their selected composer. They will be invited to go out into their own community to record sounds and conversations reflecting their own working and living environment.

Themes from these stories will be used to compose six unique quality art compositions which will culminate in live public performances in each of the 6 Districts – Yardley, Hall Green, Sutton, Ladywood, Erdington and Perry Barr, in June 2018.

for-Wards Year 2 is in partnership with MAC Birmingham, Hare and Hounds, Access to Music, Flatpack Projects, Wassifa CIC, Kalaboration and Birmingham Contemporary Music Group who each selected the six composers.

For Year 2, the partnership has brought together a world class group of composers who will spread their exciting mix of musical styles across the six districts. Electroacoustic composer, sound artist and performer Annie Mahtani; songwriter and composer Grandmaster Gareth who runs an eight-piece band Misty’s Big Adventure, as well as releasing solo-albums; Dubstep guru Pøgman who is cementing his place in dubstep with tours in Canada and Australia; Handsworth-born Jazz saxophonist Xhosa Cole, part of the established legacy of Birmingham Jazz saxophonists founded by Andy Hamilton; Scott Johannsson a Birmingham-based visual artist and musician and member of the group LARVA; producer and writer Simon Duggall who has written in a variety of genres for artists including Shania Twain, Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan and The Beat.

Professor Julian Lloyd Webber, Principal of Royal Birmingham Conservatoire, said “Royal Birmingham Conservatoire relishes the opportunity to create, perform and advance music-making together with local communities. We are particularly delighted that we have so many local professional composers who will share their own expertise with so many residents over the coming months.

“for-Wards truly is a unique project for the city of Birmingham, its scale and ambition in creating a musical ode to the city is staggering! We look forward to hearing the stories, found sounds and live performances of each of the 6 brand-new compositions in June 2018.”

for-Wards is the brain-child of the project’s Artistic Director, Bobbie-Jane Gardner, a Birmingham-based composer and musician who studied at Royal Birmingham Conservatoire and is one of the rising stars of the City’s growing music scene. Bobbie said “for-Wards has now entered its second and final year, it’s flown by and it’s been a ridiculously amazing experience, it’s been a lot of hard-work but worth every sleepless night!

“This project is all about people coming together to share stories and make quality sounds representing this diverse city. It’s about us negating the distrust and attempts at dividing people and instead using the creation of high quality music as a binding agent to inspire, connect and celebrate the wonderful Birmingham communities and music scene here.”

Commenting on Year 1, participants from Martineau Gardens Group, Edgbaston added: “We recorded sounds that reflected our community from rain-drops on leaves, to birds singing, traffic moving and even lumps of wood being stacked. To hear music we helped to create was a very moving experience and almost brought us to tears. The way the composer just brought it altogether in one sound blew us away.”