Education & Community Coordinator Alec Haylor writes about A Bigger Sound.
This week has seen the start of an exciting project for RPO resound, the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra’s Community and Education Department. Run by Music in Prisons, Rideout and the RPO, A Bigger Sound is providing prisoners at HMP The Mount with the opportunity to take part in music and creative arts workshops, working towards a cross-arts performance in the prison itself.
The creative team had already met the prisoners at an introductory session last week. After talking them through the project and clarifying a few queries (including whether there would be tea and biscuits), we used the session to start identifying the themes and ideas that will be going into the final performance. The Rideout team organised activities and games to help the process and the ensuing session brought up a technicolour range of ideas from slapstick humour to thoughtful reflections on our emotions.
This rich seam of topics took centre stage in the music workshops that started this week. Music in Prisons and RPO resound musicians have been working with the participants – who range from guitarists and pianists to violinists, bassoonists and tabla players – to create brand new pieces of music based around these themes. The participants have also brought a whole range of their own influences into the music we’re making – from blues and classical music to reggae and drum & bass.
Whether they’re learning an instrument from scratch or are more experienced players, all the musicians have had to focus and work as a group to create and rehearse the collection of completely original pieces that we have been working on. Although we’re only in week one, we’re already really excited about the material that’s been produced!
Next week, Rideout will be starting their sessions in the prison too, taking the music we have created as the starting point for their creative arts workshops. We will continue to be working closely with this group of prisoners over the next five weeks, so be sure to come back for further updates on how the project is progressing.