From 11 – 20 November this year, the London Jazz Festival, produced by Serious in association with BBC Radio 3, took the global language of jazz far and wide, bringing together a wealth of established artists and emerging talent from across the generations in an event that has resonance throughout the world.
As the Serious Learning team wind down for the year and reflect upon another action packed Festival, Learning Manager Nadine Wood shares some of the highlights of this year’s Learning & Participation programme, which offered audiences of all ages and interests a vast array of inspiring and fun ways to engage with the Festival...
This year the Festival programme saw approximately 550 young people and adults participate in music -making activity, and a further 2700 engage as L&P audience members through our Serious New Audiences scheme, family friendly matinees, pre- concert talk series Hear Me Talkin to Ya, Nathaniel Facey’s and Shane Forbes’ personal interpretation of the history of jazz in Way In to the Way Out, and as supporters of performances by young people across the Capital. Activity took place in schools, community centres, conservatoires and arts venues from Barnet to Bromley and more than a few places in between!
One of my personal highlights, our Jazz for Toddlers workshops for 2 -5 year olds, proved to be very popular again with sold out workshops at artsdepot in Finchley, Kings Place in Kings Cross and Discover Storytelling Centre in Stratford. This year New Orleans born award winning trumpeter Abram Wilson, now widely known to the under 5’s as Mr Jazz, and Hopal Romans, aka Ms Move, took up the challenge of introducing the our youngest of audiences to jazz, blues and swing through storytelling, singing, movement and improvisation. We are yet to get written feedback from the toddlers (we’ll ask them again in a few years), but in the mean time parents were happy to let us know what they thought:
“Lots to keep the children focused... Brilliant – my son loved it!”
“Mr Jazz and Ms Move were excellent – very engaging”
Sold out public master classes offered audiences a closer look at the life and works of sensational US saxophonist Chris Potter and uber cool pianist and producer Robert Glasper, while behind the scenes Swiss pianist and composer Nik Bärtsch delivered a fascinating session with composition and jazz students at Trinity Laban. The Write Stuff, now in its 9th year, put aspiring writers through their literary paces with a jazz journalism course delivered in partnership with Jazzwise throughout the Festival and our fantastic consortium of 17-25 year olds, Young & Serious, produced their first ever London Jazz Festival free stage event, which saw Matt Roberts Big Band play to a 500 strong audience in the Front Room, Queen Elizabeth Hall. (Well done Young & Serious!)
We had a vast amount of young people’s activity included school workshops with Soweto Kinch in partnership with Bromley’s ArtsTrain, a Barbican residency with the East London Creative Jazz Orchestra, led by music facilitator extraordinaire Paul Griffiths alongside New York based vocalist Gretchen Parlato, a residency with Southbank’s Soundbank and Voicelab led by Phronesis and composer Dave Maric, plus a series of improvisation workshops led by a host of UK based artists including Gwyneth Herbert and Arun Ghosh. And if that wasn’t enough, we also had Big Sing vocal workshops for all ages, led by Gwyneth Herbert, Jacqui Dankworth and Charlie Wood.
“The workshop with Soweto was quality, he showed us how to pronounce our words more clearly when we are behind the mic…… you can hear every word he says and he gave us some really good exercises to take away with us!” Young person, Bishop Justus School, Bromley
“Today I learnt AMAZING things about jazz!!” Young participant, Jazz vocals workshop
Serious’ Learning & Participation programme continues throughout the year. Please feel free to get in touch with us if you’d like to know more.
Happy holidays and best wishes!