Tag Archives: Melissa

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

Standard

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

Advertisements

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

Standard

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.

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

Standard

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

Standard

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

Standard

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

Standard

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

Standard

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