Category Archives: News

Weekly Session Blog: Monday 22nd June 2015

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Another wonderful session today after a short break over May. Great turn out and some fantastic new music being created!

Sadly, it was our last session before September. However, September is set to be an exciting month for Musical Arc. We are looking forward to the possibility of performing at DA DA Festival in September 2016 so watch this space…

Also in Early to Mid September 2015 we will be fundraising for Musical Arc with “Walk And Roll”-a mile circuit with all members of Musical Arc. This will be a sponsored event and we will keep followers posted about the dates for this and be sharing ways you can donate to the charity.

Musical Arc's fabulous horn section

Musical Arc’s fabulous horn section

Weekly Session Blog: Monday 27th April

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We would like to say a big thank you to all the Musical Arc members for yet another wonderful workshop, this time at Kippax Ash Tree Primary.

As always we have received extremely positive feedback, including the following from the Kippax staff:

“I am so pleased that Musical Arc came into school – they were an inspiration and the kids were buzzing afterwards. Thanks again everyone at Musical Arc!”

Musical Arc performing Indigo

Musical Arc performing Indigo

 

Weekly Session Blog: Monday 20th April 2015

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Musical Arc met for the annual general meeting today. It was lovely to reflect on the exciting year that Musical Arc has had, performing the Mango Tree and leading workshops all around Leeds. It was also a good chance to talk about the future and what we would like to achieve over the next year. I hope all the members are as excited about the coming year as we are.

Next week we will be popping into Kippax to lead another workshop.

Musical Arc getting ready to perform at the AGM

Musical Arc getting ready to perform at the AGM

Musical Arc has had some great news. Thanks to the Leeds Community Foundation- Red Nose Funding we have secured £1000 towards our great work…..
Congratulations to all the other successful applicants!!
http://www.yorkshireeveningpost.co.uk/…/winners-of-yep-s-10…

Weekly Session Blog: Monday 23rd March 2015

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Great news! Today was the first Musical Arc workshop of the year!! Musical Arc had a wonderful day at Alwoodley Primary School, a brilliant, thriving school with positive and supportive staff.

We have received some lovely feedback; the schools have said the assembly was fantastic and that they all enjoyed taking part in our music and art activities. All the pupils left talking excitedly about their day with Musical Arc.”

After today’s success we are excited for our next workshop which will be on the 27th April.”

Leah teaching a pupil to play glockenspiel

Liah inspiring Alwoodley pupils

 

Weekly Session Blog: Monday 9th March 2015

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A great Musical Arc rehearsal today, although it was only the second time we have all met and played together in 2015 everyone was sounding as brilliant as ever. Today we were lucky to be joined by two fantastic musicians, Nina and Connor. We were also visited by a very familiar face, Julia. Musical Arc members and staff were able to express their thanks to Julia for all her hard work for Musical Arc over the years and wish her all the best for the future.  

 Musical Arc are geared up and ready to give an exciting workshop at Alwoodley Primary School on the 23rd March.

 

Musical Arc's wonderful horn section hard at work

Musical Arc’s wonderful horn section hard at work

Weekly Session Blog: Monday 1st December 2014

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The first door of the advent calendar is open, the shops have Slade on repeat and Leeds is covered in glitter. As December rolls in Musical Arc are just finishing their final workshop, held at Compton Library. The workshop received a very warm reception with visitors to the library requesting our return in 2015.  It was the perfect way to wrap up this season’s workshops.  Head Librarian Madeline Wood said:

“This event was absolutely wonderful. It covered many different elements including music dance singing and story. There was a real buzz and it created a lot of interest not only from the participants but from all the people in the library at the time. It was lovely to see children who were initially shy get up and dance. We all enjoyed the session enormously.”

Dilrani performing "The Mango Tree"

Dilrani performing “The Mango Tree”

 

Weekly Session Blog: Monday 24th November 2014

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Today was the final autumn Musical Arc rehearsal before Christmas; we have had a phenomenal season of workshops and rehearsals, with amazing performances and work from all of our members. We were also delighted to be joined by talented guitarist Jonathan and a lovely new member, Jake.

Sadly, next week will be the last workshop before Christmas, although I have no doubt that we will finish the season in true “Musical Arc” style.

Musical Arc's last rehearsal of the year

Musical Arc’s last rehearsal of the year

 

 

Weekly Session Blog: Tuesday 18th November 2014

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“Musical Arc” led their penultimate workshop of the autumn season at Leeds City Museum with pupils from Broomfield School. This workshop was a lovely combination of all Musical Arc’s strengths: art, music, dance and story-telling. We worked with 30 students with learning disabilities and had a really energetic and interactive session. This was kindly hosted free of charge by `The Leeds museum and we hope to hold workshops there again in the future.

18 Nov Leeds museum (1)

 

Weekly Session Blog: Wednesday 12th November 2014

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Today has been one of the busiest in “Musical Arc” history, with two workshops in one day.

The first workshop of the day was with Heyday’s at The West Yorkshire Playhouse. Musical Arc would like to say a big thank you to Vickie and Lorraine for their fabulous presentations; we had some wonderful feedback from Nicky Taylor, who heads up Heydays:

‘That was one of the best presentations we’ve had. Fantastic! The work she’s doing is wonderful and she got us all singing. I thought that this was as good as our singing group!’

The members joined us as we rocked up to the Vine for the second workshop of the day. Twenty-five 16-19 year olds attended our workshop to make music with us. The session went really well and staff were amazed at how engaged the students were throughout the whole session.

Dilrani performing an excerpt of "The mango Tree".

Dilrani performing an excerpt of “The mango Tree”.

 

 

Weekly Session Blog: Monday 10th November

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Musical Arc is now half way through the autumn workshop season. With two workshops down, and three to go, it has been an inspiring couple of months. I am continually amazed at the dedication of all the Musical Arc members, volunteers and staff. We are very fortunate to be surrounded by such talented and generous people.

Today, we were also pleased to welcome a new volunteer and wonderful Flute player to our ranks, a big welcome to Carmel.

Sajid practicing "Indigo"

Sajid practicing “Indigo”

 

 

Weekly Session Blog: Monday 13th October 2014

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Great to welcome everyone back to “the Arc” for another brilliant session, preparing for the continuing “Mango Tree Workshops”. Our Musical Arc members are improving and shining with more confidence at every rehearsal. There was an atmosphere of jubilation after the success of last week’s “Mango Tree” workshop.

Musical Arc's wonderful horn section hard at work

Musical Arc’s wonderful horn section hard at work

 

On a sadder note, last week we said a bitter sweet farewell to Andrew Wilson, who has been an invaluable member of musical arc for many years. Everyone at Musical Arc wishes Andrew the best of luck in his new job.

Weekly Session Blog: Monday 6th October 2014

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At 10:15 Andrew, Shehnaaz and I stood awaiting a taxi, huddled against the rain, talking excitedly about the day to come, in high spirits despite the discouraging weather. As we arrived at Leeds Federated Housing we received an enthusiastic welcome at reception, with much attempted nosing in our bags to see what goodies we had brought along. Arthington Hall was our venue for the day and I was personally delighted to spot plates piled with pastries and jugs of juice waiting for us in the corner.

Dilrani captivating the audience at the first "Mango Tree" workshop.

Dilrani captivating the audience at the first “Mango Tree” workshop.

 

We kicked off with “Indigo” a poignantly beautiful creation written by and performed by all musical arc members. This was the first time I had heard this piece in its entirety and was blown away by the beauty of the interlinking melodies and the confidence shown by our performers.

We moved onto an excerpt of “The Mango Tree” and I was utterly captivated by the enthralling story told by Anita. Anita’s lyrical intonation brought to the story to life complemented by Dil’s fluid, interpretive movements.

During a celebratory moment of the piece we invited workshop participants to join us to learn a jig. Several audience members hesitantly got up, accompanied by much nervous giggling, but relaxed as the steps became familiar. After much bumping into each other and tripping over we eventually found our feet and I saw my wide grin mirrored on the faces across from me. The fiddle and drums joined in and the dance drove onwards, full of joy and exuberance.

The last section was, for me, the highlight of the day. Musical ARC Members and audience alike sat in a circle and formed an impromptu musical jam. Each person created their own melody which interweaved and developed. This was an excellent example of the inclusiveness of Musical ARC as all participants felt comfortable enough to put forth their own ideas and melodies. This was an uplifting and inspiring start to musical arc’s autumn workshops.

 

Weekly Session Blog: Monday 29th September 2014

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Today Meanwood Community Centre saw the second week of the Musical Arc rehearsals and the pace has really picked up. All the members’ hard work shines through in their playing, I for one am extremely excited to be part of the first “Mango Tree” workshop next Monday.

Musical Arc members hard at work.

Musical Arc member’s hard at work.

 

Weekly Session Blog: Monday 22nd September 2014

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Monday saw the Musical Arc team brought together for the first Mango Tree rehearsal after a long summer break. After warm greetings and a catch up of summer news, plus a biscuit or five, the members got down to doing what they do best. The team are putting together new material which could be included in the set of five upcoming workshops around the Leeds area. The tantalising sounds of the rehearsal crept all the way down the corridors, through to the back office. We are all excited to see the new ideas being put into action after a very successful first rehearsal.

Getting back into the swing of things, first Musical Arc rehearsal of the year.

 

Unfortunately, Julia is taking a break from Musical ARC and has handed the reins over to Lorraine, James and Lizzie. Big shoes to fill. She will be sorely missed 😦

Weekly Session Blog: Monday 20th October 2014

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A seemingly endless procession of paired children aged between five and six trickled into St. Chad’s Parish Centre, wide eyed and whispering nervously to one another. Coats and jackets were hung up, with a great deal of confusion and herding, but after a short time we had sixty pairs of crossed legs on the floor and sixty eager young faces looking up at us.

Impressive hall like an upturned boat at St. Chads for the workshop on 20th October 2014

Impressive hall like an upturned boat at St. Chads for the workshop on 20th October 2014

We started off with the “Mango” song. The children started off timidly singing to their shoes but with some first class bolstering from Martin we had them dancing along and singing their lungs out.

The children engaged in a mix and mingle session with our Musical ARC members. We served plates of assorted barfi and numerous jugs of mango juice. I watched in amusement as some children gulped them down eagerly and others spat them out with a look of revulsion.

I sat with Shehnaaz as pupils in small groups shyly approached us and asked to play our drums. I was impressed that many of the pupils recognised Shehnaaz from a previous musical arc assembly; many recalled learning how to guide the blind.

Pictures from The Mango Tree

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Thank You to everyone who attended the recent performance of The Mango Tree performed at Leeds College of Music on Friday 20th June 2014.

 The Demon closes in on Princess Jyoti in The Mango Tree - Leeds College of Music - 20th June 2014

The Demon closes in on Princess Jyoti.

The feedback from the event was tremendous.

Jyoti sinking in the water in The Mango Tree - Leeds College of Music - 20th June 2014

Princess Jyoti sinking in the water.

There are 2 galleries of photos taken of the performance:

Princess Jyoti and Raj Kumar - The Mango Tree - Leeds College of Music - 20th June 2014

Princess Jyoti and Raj Kumar.

We are planning on taking this production on tour in the future.

Raj Kumar picking the flower from the water - The Mango Tree - Leeds College of Music - 20th June 2014

Raj Kumar picking the flower from the water.

Watch this space for future details.

Dilrani Kaur accompanying the soundtrack - The Mango Tree - Leeds College of Music - 20th June 2014

Dilrani Kaur accompanying the soundtrack on her Santoor.

Subscribe to our Twitter account or join us on facebook.

The Players - The Mango Tree - Leeds College of Music - 20th June 2014

The Players – Musical ARC.

XXX

All at Musical ARC

Weekly Session Blog #26: The Bitten Barfi.: Monday 23rd June 2014

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It’s been pretty much a week since the mango-fest, and it’s safe to say I’ve made a radical transition from that person you heard about in Leeds who spoke far too much, far too quickly. Days have passed since the summit of nine months lived in hues of mellow Indian sands, and that person has been rendered utterly speechless. But now she will try and lift her head from the asphyxiating shadows of an auditorium to speak.

The Demon goes after Jyoti in The Mango Tree - Leeds College of Music - 20th June 2014

The Demon goes after Jyoti in The Mango Tree – Leeds College of Music – 20th June 2014

Trying to source the true ingredient for this blog entry has been tough. I didn’t want cardamom, nor did I want comedy gold. I had already mentally trawled many a street-food market stall in my mind, but no intoxicating blend awaited my hands at the keyboard. I didn’t want sympathy either – as I turn my heel away from the M62 and leave this city – nor did I didn’t want applause (though it was certainly fun to be awash with that in The Venue on Friday!).

Jyoti sinking in the water in The Mango Tree - Leeds College of Music - 20th June 2014

Jyoti sinking in the water in The Mango Tree – Leeds College of Music – 20th June 2014

Most of all, I realised I craved a moment from the reader. A moment of peace and quiet with me, to appreciate the sheer effort, dedication and soul of Musical ARC’s Creative Director, Lorraine Cowburn. For months, Lorraine has been cunningly crafting a masterpiece in The Mango Tree, not pausing for longer than necessary to explain to the world around her why she was stitching its threads a certain way. A little less conversation and a little more action is, without a doubt, the approach that brought such an astounding result for the audience (inclusive of every member of Musical ARC and the show team). The show was a moving, shifting experience of great beauty. But year upon year (show or not!), the presence of the individual behind it is what makes the togetherness of Musical ARC possible. Not only possible, but awesome.

Princess Jyoti and Raj Kumar - The Mango Tree - Leeds College of Music - 20th June 2014

Princess Jyoti and Raj Kumar – The Mango Tree – Leeds College of Music – 20th June 2014

In the aftermath of The Mango Tree, I had stood nibbling a bite-size barfi chunk in the foyer, and knew that from that point onwards I would let the bindi do the talking. My lip was wobbling and I could not chew. I was frozen, despite a heavy grey heat that slumped against the skyscraper windows and traffic outside. I may not have looked okay, but in fact, I was just stupidly proud of the show I had just seen, and was trying not to cry a bit (a lot) as “unique”, “magical”, “amazing”, “when’s-your-next-show? Whaddya-mean-you’re-only-doing-one-show-this-year?!”, “can-I-have-a-bindi?” and “wow” circled my eardrums like buzzing bees.

Raj Kumar picking the flower from the water - The Mango Tree - Leeds College of Music - 20th June 2014

Raj Kumar picking the flower from the water – The Mango Tree – Leeds College of Music – 20th June 2014

I will take this moment to express all thanks and appreciation on behalf of Musical ARC, to all audience members and collaborators who joined us on 20th June for the rapture of the mango season’s finale. This included pupils and teachers of St Philips Primary, who really had meant it when they said they’d come along when we visited them for an Equal Sound workshop last month!

Dilrani Kaur accompanying the soundtrack - The Mango Tree - Leeds College of Music - 20th June 2014

Dilrani Kaur accompanying the soundtrack – The Mango Tree – Leeds College of Music – 20th June 2014

Lastly, thanks to you reader, as you’ve heard me repeat the M word like a broken record since September. Though talking of mangoes, news is definitely on the horizon for a following chapter… This is not the end!

The Players - The Mango Tree - Leeds College of Music - 20th June 2014

The Players – The Mango Tree – Leeds College of Music – 20th June 2014

by Melissa Thompson

The Mango Tree: Performance this Friday (20th June)

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Please come to our magnificent, marvelous, mind boggling Mango Tree…

2014-05-12 The Mango Tree flier - front - final printed version

The Mango Tree – Click on the image to see full sized version.

Be mesmerised by the dancers, enchanted by the princess and beware of the demon…

See you on Friday 20th June 7pm at the Leeds College of Music, Quarry Hill, Leeds, LS2 7PD.

You can purchase tickets from the Leeds College of Music box office (0113 222 3434).

Musical ARC are performing a rendition of a classical Indian folk tale, The Mango Tree.

2014-05-12 The Mango Tree flier - rear - final printed version

The Mango Tree – Click on the image to see the full size version.

The performance will be signed.

Weekly Session Blog #25: Cool as Mangoes… (Not!).: Monday 16th June 2014

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With “The Mango Tree” a mere few days away now, I gather it’d be rude of me not to post. But truth be told, we are all getting a little nervous, excited and quiet now. Since our “The Mango Grove” workshop (delivered on Monday) is now a thing of the past, allow me to step back and reflect. Though perhaps this would all feel a little easier if my muggy little office in Meanwood had some ambiance in the form of incense, candles and live Tanpura (for those who don’t know, that’s the Indian musical instrument responsible for the foundations of captivating drones).

Last Monday at the workshop, we saw a session with a difference. Primary school pupils from Carr Manor scurried round the corner, seemingly stepping from the ordinary right into the extraordinary, as their senses were magically filled with the colourful ways of India. Flashes of magenta, gold, purple and orange entered eyeshot as Dilrani (head-to-toe in full Indian goddess costume) bent down to honour each young forehead with a bindi. Sugary rainbow rows of barfi sailed across silver platters; where one-by-one they were snatched up by playful fingertips and enjoyed for the first time by Yorkshire’s children. Bells knocked together with elegant drama as Dilrani danced through angular forms; shadows told charming stories before a screen shielding Reb Caputo’s bespoke office.

Dilrani Kaur applying henna to a hand. June 2014.

Dilrani Kaur applying henna to a hand. June 2014.

Dilrani Kaur applying henna to a child. June 2014.

Dilrani Kaur applying henna to a child. June 2014.

And what about ARC? Well, we performed our musical journey piece, “Indigo”, and now we can’t wait to vibe on it again. However, there will be one minor difference next time we play it…

…See you at The Venue, this Friday, 7pm.

Don’t forget to book your tickets at Mango Tree box office at Leeds College of Music

by Melissa Thompson

Various pictures highlighting Musical ARC June 2014.

Various pictures highlighting Musical ARC June 2014.

The Mango Tree

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Musical ARC are performing a rendition of a classical Indian folk tale, The Mango Tree.

2014-05-12 The Mango Tree flier - front - final printed version

2014-05-12 The Mango Tree flier – front – final printed version

The Mango Tree is the fantasy tale of an Indian king who loses his beloved princess to a demon and yearns for her return.

As a result of a grant award by the Arts Council, Musical ARC, a charity for disabled musicians, has put together a production that combines a mix of musical and visual performances in an innovative way. The story is narrated by artistic director, Lorraine Cowburn and is accompanied with music performed by Musical ARC members. On stage is a large shadow screen on which puppets and live contemporary and traditional Kathak Indian dances are played out. The production will merge shadow and dance; dancers will become shadow puppets, puppets will become dancers in a seamless fusion between what is in front and behind the screens.

The shadow puppetry is devised by Rebekah Caputo. Contemporary dance is arranged by Amy Manancourt. Traditional Kathak Indian dance is by Jyoti Manral.

The performance will be on Friday 20th June 2014 at the Leeds College of Music, Quarry Hill, Leeds, LS2 7PD.

The performance will be signed.

You can purchase tickets from the Leeds College of Music box office (0113 222 3434).

2014-05-12 The Mango Tree flier - rear - final printed version

2014-05-12 The Mango Tree flier – rear – final printed version

Don’t forget to check out our facebook page and twitter feed.

The Mango Tree performance is part of the 2014 Yorkshire Festival.

Look forward to seeing you there. 🙂

Weekly Session Blog #24: Ready, Steady, Indigo.: Monday 2nd June 2014

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My eyelids peered at the light for a millisecond, and closed again as rapidly as a sea urchin recoiling from the water’s surface. It was Monday morning, and I was unsure whether I could face the day. I was uncertain of whether I could bound two steps at a time into regularity, arms flailing between my alarm clock’s mute switch and the cheerio cupboard in my kitchen.

But then – It happened. Looking up at my calendar, I realised it was June! I bolted out the door, my motions now more akin to those of a motorcycle. I ran through Headingley’s North Lane, past shop windows, past the faint essence of fresh mangoes in the green grocer’s; my head was truly spinning with the colours of India. I hailed a driver, and guided my good friend Shehnaaz into the vehicle so I could saturate her mind with the sudden intense adrenaline I was experiencing after turning a leaf in my calendar. On our way to Meanwood, we talked of the hours that would follow, of playing our latest creation like it was 1964. This was the tune ‘Indigo’, by the way, a composition that we will be sharing with you on our exclusive tour de Mango.

We will also be performing this in just under a week during a community workshop held at our base in Meanwood, complete with barfi, bindis and B-Sides. The Mango Tree’s collaborating artists will join Musical Arc in a mass inspiration aimed at the members of our community, where we will work with Music, Dance, Origami and Henna. We can’t wait.

As for those walking past Leeds City Museum on Saturday… walk in, I dare you. I shall be inflated with excitement and samosas and telling the whole world about The Mango Tree show, which kicks off in just two weeks now.

Here’s the link for tickets:

Mango Tree box office at Leeds College of Music

Book now, reserve a lassi!

by Melissa Thompson

Amy Manancourt dancing behind a shadow screen in rehearsal for The Mango Tree. February 2014.

Amy Manancourt dancing behind a shadow screen in rehearsal for The Mango Tree. February 2014.

Weekly Session Blog #23: Arc in Full Circle.: Monday 19th May 2014

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This week, Musical Arc stepped away from the excitement and spontaneity of The Mango Tree for one minute and went back to the roots of these last few years in two special deliveries of Equal Sound. On Monday we gathered under the astonishing sunlight at Stanningley Primary School, a place with familiar grounds and familiar faces. We were returning to meet a new generation of year three pupils here. To play music to them, to send messages that everybody could understand, until we were all just jamming away without a care in the world about what we looked like or how we talked.

Shehnaaz wheeling Liah around at Stanningley Primary School. 19th May 2014.

Shehnaaz wheeling Liah around at Stanningley Primary School. 19th May 2014.

“I learned that even if you have a disability, you can do good things”, stated one year three pupil in the sharing assembly that day. This was heard moments before a girl (without being told to by her teacher) came and shook hands with us all, in sheer appreciation and respect for what we had exposed her developing young mind to in the day’s events. We can’t wait to go back in future and see Jackie (the head teacher) for more Equal Sounds amongst year groups to come.

Head Teacher of Stanningley Primary School advertising the upcoming Mango Tree (May 2014).

Head Teacher of Stanningley Primary School advertising the upcoming Mango Tree (May 2014).

After just one sleep, Musical Arc hit the road again. Once more we were at the start of what would be a fulfilling and moving experience at St Philips Primary. Regardless of how many moments pass in my life, I may never clear my memory of such a wonderful sight and sound from one of the music sessions we had in this school. Despite being year 6 (and perhaps more conscious about being cool and trendy?), a group of boys completely lost themselves in the groove at one point. As they sung ‘Mango’ (taught by Musical Arc during the day), they did it with pride, laughter and rhythm. Either the vitamin D from the sun has had a short-term positive effect on the world, or we’d simply been lucky to meet fantastic school communities in one week.

“The kids are loving it; they were stood in a long line in the playground at break time singing the ‘Mango’ song that Musical Arc taught them this morning!” – Miss Taylor, Year 6 teacher.

After coming out of two workshops on a high, it was time to get back into the work mode surrounding other mango-related issues. Wednesday saw Lorraine and Mel attend a rehearsal at the Cardigan Centre, with all of our June show’s collaborating dancers and artists. Words were exchanged, handfuls of seeds were nibbled on anxiously, and the music was stopped and started over and over in pursuit of absolute perfection. Hours passed before we had overcome this process, and we knew that at the origin of our mutual exhaustion was a feeling of exhilaration. The prototype of this performance was suddenly becoming real, and frankly, was becoming something really worth a reserve in your calendar.

by Melissa Thompson

Weekly Session Blog #22: The Mango’s A-ripening.: Monday 12th May 2014

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This week Musical Arc continued on a creative stream of composition for their latest tune, the live piece which will be showcased at the opening of ‘The Mango Tree’ show. We heard gripping intermissions, searing horn solos and heart-rending progress in the percussion section. We felt once more how taking time to write pure music – not to a spec or in a rush, but just taking time to let it out – was such an inspiring and releasing process for us all.

Time is ticking away; the show is only a few weeks away now! We are beginning to get energized (and mildly anxious, of course) about the summit of this yearlong project now. Collaborations, microphones, meetings, cups (and more cups) of tea have shaped our lives since September last year. With the return of the sun in the Northern quarter of the arts world, the final challenge is almost upon us.

In other news, we wished Liah a very happy birthday in the session today. Liah is one of Arc’s most committed musicians, and she certainly knows how to lessen our performance anxiety with wonderful cake year upon year!

With the investment of time and energy the Arc family have parted with over the last months, we welcome your friends, family, colleagues, football team, gym buddy… anybody at all, in fact, to come and witness ‘The Mango Tree’, a cross-culture, live portrait of the merging art forms before your senses.

Tickets can be found at Leeds College of Music – Don’t miss out and book your seats today.

Go on… Today! Do it!

by Melissa Thompson

Jyoti and Simran practicing the Mango Tree routines

Jyoti and Simran practicing the Mango Tree routines

Weekly Session Blog #21: With Open Ears.: Monday 28th April 2014

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All at Musical ARC had returned to their headquarters following a little rest and recuperation, expecting to be back in the studio swing – when suddenly, it dawned on them that recording music for The Mango Tree was a thing of the past!

Although the process was stimulating and beneficial to us all, the ARC had learned how an intensive period of recording creativity can, at times, be demanding too. It’s almost as though musicians get to the summit of creative achievements like these, see the finishing line, and pause because it’s over. And despite weeks of patience and graft, they forget so easily that there’s a thing of beauty waiting for us beyond that line. A thing they have created, through the winding of musical minds along a path.

And so it was, we had recorded solidly for a month, and we had forgotten that what awaited us was a mastered track. Which we would hear this in its entirety today…

…A blast from the past had also come to witness our weeks of pre-Easter work today. Musical ARC had the most wonderful catch up with Nita, who had previously worked on the storytelling element in a past production of The Mango Tree many moons ago. All those moons ago, it had been something quite different, so it was as interesting for Nita to listen to our latest interpretation and arrangement as it was for us to reflect on the past through her.

In this state of reflection and stillness, we opened our ears. What they clung on to was one of the most enlightening things they had heard yet – the oh-so-familiar, yet oh-so-excitingly-unfamiliar sound of our own musical threads, artistically knitted together by two sets of ears (Martin Harwood and Lorraine Cowburn’s, to be precise).

If this post is confusing you, reader, I have a suggestion that may help decongest your brain… Grab a ticket from LCM’s box office, free up 20th June at 7.30pm in your diary, and go outside and buy a mango. And chill out with your piece of fruit until next week, when you are welcomed to re-open your screen for an update on … wait for it… a brand new tune!!

by Melissa Thompson

Weekly Session Blog #20: Round up of a Wonderfully Noisy Half Term.: Monday 7th April 2014

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It’s Easter break currently and everyone at ARC is enjoying a well-deserved one at that. Last Monday we had a fantastic time at Weetwood Primary School with years 4 and 5.

The themes of our workshop were music, story and communication. We assembled in the hall with an array of musical instruments and the children responded wonderfully to our sounds and presence – by the end of the day we were jamming together as truly equal beings. Many musical conversations were shared with the Weetwood community; many of the pupils have budding careers in music already since taking lessons in the lovely grounds of the school. In the final show and tell at the end of the day, we witnessed some outstanding creativity in the children. There was a human conveyor belt of the children’s pictures weaving around them as they respectably admired their day’s work, and this was accompanied by poems about a moon made from blue cheese and some fantastic improvisation on the glockenspiel.

In other news, one of Musical ARC’s recently-joined musicians, Andrew Wilson, shall not be resting one bit during this break in favour of training for the Leeds Half Marathon. If you would like to support him in this admirable mission, then he would appreciate even the smallest donation which can be made via Just Giving . This page has been put together by Andrew and gives his supporters a background on Hope Pastures, which is the organisation to which all proceeds will go.

After a break from recording and last week’s hard work, we shall be meeting again on 28th April at Meanwood for a good old natter and music session – hopefully outside in more of that Spring sunshine! Watch out for more updates around this time.

Wishing a happy, peaceful Easter to our supportive community.

by Melissa Thompson

Weekly Session Blog #19: Sn…Sn…Sno – Spring?!.: Monday 10th March 2014

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In the words of everybody across the nation, SPRING HAS INDEED SPRUNG! The pavements of Meanwood have never seemed so beautiful; ice cream has never felt so prominent on my To-Do list.

While grinning like idiots as we left our coats at home, Musical ARC prepared for another week of recording. This time, well-practiced, we knew instantly what we had to do. We resumed our places and remained patient and co-operative for the unfolding sounds of The Chase.

10th March 2014 Elly, Mave and James rehearsing The Mango Tree at a Monday Session.

10th March 2014 Elly, Mave and James rehearsing The Mango Tree at a Monday Session.

We had reached the halfway mark in the process of recording The Mango Tree, and meanwhile, there was another exciting event on the list for Musical ARC this week. Somewhere inside a glorious and grand pavilion at Elland Road Stadium, I splayed a colourful array of maracas, flyers and live video action across a podium.

2014-03-12 EPIC SEN Event Elland Road - Melissa's Stall

2014-03-12 EPIC SEN Event Elland Road – Melissa’s Stall

This was in aid of the EPIC SEN event, an important occasion for children with complex needs and their friends and family. It aims to share and showcase an array of services and activities available to improve the quality of life of these people, and is a positive and inspiring way of introducing them to organisations like Musical ARC. Visitors to my stall got the chance to…

  • Watch a sneak preview of DB’s video Beyond the Wheelchair
  • Browse some of Artform’s instruments
  • Hear all about our Equal Sound workshops in Leeds
  • Chat to a rather excited me about The Mango Tree show in June
2014-03-12 EPIC SEN Event Elland Road - Melissa's Stall

2014-03-12 EPIC SEN Event Elland Road – Melissa’s Stall

It was a breath of fresh air in Musical Arc’s schedule, and just seemed to compliment the beautiful tinge of Spring in our surrounding world.

by Melissa Thompson

Weekly Session Blog #18: Arc’s Studio Pop-up.: Monday 3rd March 2014

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Musical Arc reined March in with the air that some serious work was about to kick off. Two new, professional faces (by the names of Ewan and Aled) had come to help us lay down the recorded segment of The Mango Tree show, made up of our original compositions.

2014-03-03 Mango Tree Recording - Recording levels

2014-03-03 Mango Tree Recording – Recording levels

It was a new and exciting setup for the Arc, with the addition of a few more wires and bolts here and there (not to mention a little more pressure than usual!). After a couple of last minute run-throughs, our panic subsided in time for production part I of The Garden. See pictures below for a keyhole peak into Arc’s pop-up studio.

2014-03-03 Mango Tree Recording - Beatmaker Andrew

2014-03-03 Mango Tree Recording – Beatmaker Andrew

2014-03-03 Mango Tree Recording - Mave gets the thumbs up

2014-03-03 Mango Tree Recording – Mave gets the thumbs up

2014-03-03 Mango Tree Recording - Happy Robert

2014-03-03 Mango Tree Recording – Happy Robert

2014-03-03 Mango Tree Recording - Smiley Elly / Ponderous James

2014-03-03 Mango Tree Recording – Smiley Elly / Ponderous James

2014-03-03 Mango Tree Recording - Expressive Liah

2014-03-03 Mango Tree Recording – Expressive Liah

2014-03-03 Mango Tree Recording - Vickie tinkling the ivories

2014-03-03 Mango Tree Recording – Vickie tinkling the ivories

2014-03-03 Mango Tree Recording - DB doing his thang

2014-03-03 Mango Tree Recording – DB doing his thang

2014-03-03 Mango Tree Recording - Stage action

2014-03-03 Mango Tree Recording – Stage action

by Melissa Thompson

Weekly Session Blog #17: Ceilidh Chaos.: Monday 24th February 2014

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After a much-needed break, Musical Arc reconvened at Meanwood Community Centre to catch up and play some music. Over a cuppa, we witnessed the progress of Beyond the Wheelchair, a recent video created by our good friend and talented videographer Erwan Durand. The short film takes viewers on a journey through D.B’s daily life. It visits the various activities and interests he has and gives a bit of background information on cerebral palsy, a condition which does not prevent him from enjoying things.

Today, we also had a lovely visit from Princess Jyoti and Raj Kumar – two Leeds folk who are sometimes known as just Simran and Jyoti when out and about grabbing the papers. We transformed the hall space into a theatre (we even had chocolate biscuits; all that seemed to be missing was some plush curtains) and we heard the music of The Garden from The Mango Tree. We gawped in awe as the couple merged into a visual whirl of perfection and grace through a series of dance moves and grandiose gestures, and thought to ourselves, “Wow, this is still only the beginning?!” Somehow, that realisation made the idea of mangoes, bindis and shadow puppets in the mix seem like a dream.

Reader, you must be wondering why the title of this entry is much more frenzied than what I have mentioned so far…! Rumour has it that Martin Harwood can hold quite a pleasant little jig on the fiddle… so much so that we can’t stop ourselves from folking out across the dancefloor. This is exactly what we did in the afternoon, and after only tripping over my feet about twice and plentiful laughter, I can say that The Mango Tree definitely needs a sprinkling of the Ceilidh vibes. Watch out, audience, you’re gonna love it!

In other news… Pop along to Waitrose as much as you care until Friday, and put your free change tokens in the Musical ARC box to help boost our chances of getting £1000!

Toodle pip.

by Melissa Thompson

Blog #16: Happy New Mangoes!: Thursday 30th January 2014

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Crikey, have we really made it past January minus a single drop of snow..? I may have been a tad overzealous this month when expecting the worst, weather-wise, which would explain my post-Xmas absence in the virtual world recently.

Despite my lack of typing, I can tell you that some exciting prep for The Mango Tree has been bubbling underway in the New Year.

Recently, there has been greater focus on the work of the collaborative artists (dancers of mixed styles, shadow theatre, actors) and what they will bring to Musical Arc’s own creative streak. A couple of weeks ago, a productive meeting with the collaborative artists was held in The Venue (where we’ll be performing the real thing!), and it struck me that this project is turning out to be quite a cocktail in the arts and sensory department.

It also became evident that Simran, our King Raj Kumar-to-be, has got some serious lungs on him. All at the creative meeting experienced a demonstration of some of the scenes so far – leaving us strictly under the belief that he has visited Raj Kumar in a past life, bottled up some of the angst felt in the princess’ absence, and preserved it solely for this opportunity!

Welcome back.

by Melissa Thompson