… a long overdue catch-up! 6 months has passed since I last posted an update on here – there have been so many singing larks going on that I haven’t had a chance to write about them!
Do have a read and find out what I’ve been up to…..
Durham Fringe – launching Two Bards and a Songbird
Devising a Shakespeare-themed show was not something I had ever thought of doing, but when the call came out from Durham Fringe Festival asking for performances with Shakespeare links to programme, I couldn’t resist the challenge!
I soon added the Scottish Bard Robert Burns into the equation, going back to my roots and my schooldays – and quickly it became clear that my relatively newly discovered skills in looping, improvising and songwriting would be very much used in this project. I relished the whole process, being inspired by the words and worlds of both bards, and creating my own musical journey through their work, covering themes of life and death, love and loss, even war and peace! The fringe was a wonderful oppotunity to meet other performers too, and I was so impressed by the young singer/songwriter whose show followed mine at the atmospheric Cafedral Durham – Amity Miller, definitely one to watch!
Audience feedback was overwhelming at times, with one very emotional night in particular where the audience included a Ukrainian English teacher who was particularly moved by some of the pieces – she left this beautiful card…
If anyone had suggested a few years ago that I would be improvising songs on the spot using Shakespeare quotes, looping up sonnets, or even performing a Taylor Swift song as part of a performance…….these are just not things I would have thought of doing! I do believe it’s important to just pause and reflect a little on how far I have come, and the creativity that has developed within me in recent years.
My next task is to take this show onwards to different venues, festivals, events….maybe even to record some of the original arrangements and compositions to be shared. Ideas and comments on this are always welcomed.
Julius Caesar –
a joint project with the RSC + York Theatre Royal
This year saw me take on another Shakespeare-themed project -working with 6 inspirational women from the York community, helping them prepare to be a part of the Royal Shakespeare Company’s production of Julius Caesar when it visited York Theatre Royal in June. It was a real honour to work with these talented humans, all with their own life experiences to bring to our sessions. Yes, we worked on vocal techiques and learned music to perform, but this project was so much more than that. The space to reflect on our lives, to build such strong team bonds and create something special together – that experience was so meaningful and memorable for me, and I hope for this gang of humans too. The team are pictured on the left along with Helen and Lucy from the RSC production team.
Each of my groups has had their own triumphs in recent months – from the Wiggi Singstars singing their hearts out on the JR Theatre stage in Joseph, to the York Military Wives Choir being almost blown away at the armed forces day performance in Bridlington! It has been great to get singing going again at Helmsley Arts Centre, with the HAC Singers going from strength to strength, and my very own Easingwold Community Singers continue to amaze me with their enthusiasm, positivity, and fab sounds. Singing For All keeps me busy as well, and the York group have had record numbers this year which is wonderful. Sadly, we have lost 3 of our regular SFA singers this Summer – David Cummings and Ernie Huck from the Easingwold SFA, and Patricia Best from the York SFA. They will be very much missed when we return in early September.
Musical Bridges with Singing For All
Musical Bridges is one of the projects I am most proud of – bringing people together in song. People of all ages, from different backgrounds and cultures, for one-off workshops. Since November I have reached 100s of singers with these sessions, aged 2 to 96! We have sung shanties, show songs, songs from Ukraine and songs from Zimbabwe – all funded by the Co-op Community Fund. I have enough funding left for 2 or 3 more sessions in the Autumn, and I have applied for another round of funding – fingers crossed I can continue to bring people together in this way and continue to make the sessions free/affordable for all.
Collaborations and catch-ups
This year has seen some inspirational collabs and catch-ups!
May’s Durham Big Sing saw my first collaboration with The Singing Elf , and found me leading my first ‘mindful singing walk’ by the riverside in Durham, as well as getting stuck in to the full day of singing-related activities. It was fantastic to see some of the singers and leaders again at my fringe show in July too.
The first ‘Community Voices’ event was held in June, a series of concerts with visiting choirs. First up was Ryedale Voices, a great community choir based in Malton, led by the amazing Alison Davis. It’s always rewarding to bring 2 choirs together, and we had a successful day including a workshop and performance at Easingwold Galtres Centre, as well as buffet and mingling time! the next Community Voices event will feature the acclaimed ‘Village Voices’ from Buckinghamshire, and their leader my good friend and inspirational walker/blogger leader Jane Smith – 7th October, do come if you can get to Easingwold!
In my last singing larks post, I mentioned that after 150 fieldsings, I was considering how to continue the fieldsinger journey – well in June/July I found the perfect partnership to do this, and ran two ‘wild singing’ walks at the stunning Forest of Flowers near Huby. The perfect spot to wander and sing with the real songbirds, with two lovely groups of singers. The Forest of Flowers team have done a magical job with this venture and it is well worth a visit – do check out their website.
Getting together with like-minded musicians really feeds my soul and sets my creativity on fire! Recent get-togethers with Mary and Elaine were both reassuring and inspiring, as we found ourselves so much on the same wavelength. Many laughs, many ideas tossed around and challenges issued. So valuable, so much fun. Thank you both. x
Thanks for reading about Jessa’s Singing Larks! Doing these updates is a great way for me to reflect on what I’ve been up to – and helps me plan more singing antics. Remember you can always get in touch with me via this website, or on any of my social media pages. Replies might be slower over the next week as I’m off to spend a week relaxing by the sea!