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Regional Events 2022 // Interview Feature

Spotlight On: MFY Music Mentor Adey Grummet, regional festival organiser, Nick Dolling, and Doncaster-based local event host, Rainbow Connection

Music for Youth's 2022 Regional Events series supports a wide range of flexible, inclusive performance opportunities as we rebuild our programmes post-covid.  

This year will see 14 Regional Festivals7 smaller-scale local events and 75 mentoring sessions take place across the UK. There have been 192 entries to perform, totaling 4,430 participants!

In the build-up to the events, we spoke to some of the festival organisers and a music mentor to find out more about their involvement and excitement about taking part in the events this year.

Music Mentor, Adey Grummet

Adey has been an MFY music mentor for 14 years and will be mentoring at both MFY and local festivals in Swindon, North London (NLCS), Northampton, Southampton and Bristol. We caught up with her about the valuable role she plays as a music mentor. 

What does it mean to you to be back up and running again post-pandemic?

I am just thrilled that live performance is once again back at the heart of MFY's work. We have all been amazingly creative in keeping our musical journeys alive whilst physically separated from fellow music-makers but there is simply nothing like that experience, that electric handful of moments when we all make the same air vibrate with our music. To do it is irreplaceable and to hear it live is unique, excitingly risky, transitory and deeply meaningful. Our memories of live performances are different to hearing recordings or seeing videos as the sense of immersion is also fully physical. These memories are always closely woven with multiple emotions, surprises and a sense of space and occasion that is like nothing else.

What made you want to become an MFY Music Mentor and what value do you think mentors provide to MFY participants?

I have been interested in not only music education but how we use music to communicate ideas, moods and stories for as long as I can remember, even as a child performer. To be able to travel around the country and be a part of what everyone else is working on is, quite definitely, the best job in the world. Sharing wisdom gained, knowledge accrued and our life experiences, together with what we have learned from mistakes along the way, is very important to me. Growing as a musician, as a creative artist, can only be done in conversation. We all need the mirrors and sounding boards to hone our creative work to the very best it can be. Mentoring makes me feel I am returning something of the top-class teaching and loving guidance that I so benefitted from as a younger performer, passing on what has been so valuable to me. And it is also a huge boost! It makes me feel that there is so much hope and richness in the creative lives of up-coming performers. In a world wracked with so much going wrong, this joy is more infectious than any virus!

How do you feel about the year ahead?

Hopeful, worried, excited, wistful, tired and always buoyed up by great ideas and the kind thoughts of others. At moments I might have despaired about leaving too much behind, losing traditions, or watching cultural breadth get restricted, there has always been someone who circles by with an idea or a clever project just in time to save me. Sometimes this is as simple as an evocative sound or a beautiful sight or a glowing story - I am lifted out of myself and away we go again. Trusting this, participating with a generous spirit is what I hope to get better and better at as we all go along.

Huddersfield Regional Festival organiser, Nick Dolling

We asked Nick what it means to him and his group to be back up and running again post-pandemic. 

"We are pleased to be hosting a Regional Festival in March. This provides additional performance opportunities, new audiences as well as welcome feedback from the MFY Mentors. Our partnership with MFY is very strong. MFY has helped us to provide once-in-a-lifetime opportunities for our young musicians. Both the national Festival and the MFY Proms help our students to see what talent is out there, and these events have helped inspire our musicians to take their musical studies to higher levels.

All of the Musica Kirklees Ensembles are back up and running in person and the enjoyment of the musicians and audiences has been fantastic. The Musica Kirklees staff have worked tirelessly to ensure that our players feel safe and secure since returning from online teaching and rehearsals and they, along with our students and their families, are a credit to music education in Kirklees.

We're looking forward to developing our existing musicians and ensembles, creating new inclusive opportunities for children who are yet to discover music, and ensuring live music continues and is accessible to all". 

Local Event Rainbow Connection Leader, Paul Mellors

Paul & Debbie Mellors founded Rainbow Connection 17 years ago and from humble beginnings have built up a family of 13 choirs. The choirs range from infants to adults in their 80’s suffering from COPD via Rainbow Connection Singers (triple BBC Open Choir Of The Year Winners). Paul and Debbie have a long relationship with MFY having 1st entered a regional festival in 2008, subsequently appearing at the Schools Prom in 2009 and 2011.

" The past 2 years (as we all know) have been extremely difficult for ensembles and whilst online sessions have allowed groups to continue to exist, there is no replacement for ‘in person’ rehearsals. Thankfully, we are now regaining some normality and most groups are back up and running. The upcoming year is a challenge and presents itself as one where we have to re-engage in schools and re-build out-of-school groups. But it is essential that we do this because the arts are vital, and, whilst easily sidelined, remain paramount in promoting self-confidence and well-being.

Those choir members who took part in the Schools Prom still recall the experience as one the most memorable events of their lives and many still sing with us as adults and several have gone on to have a professional career in theatre with 2 of the boys securing a record deal in the US.

We have always loved MFY events and are therefore thrilled to be organising a local festival this year. Many of the schools we work with are in areas of deprivation and transporting 100s of children to another county is not an easy task, so when the opportunity arose for us to host an event we jumped at the chance. Delta Academies Trust and Rose Learning Trust are providing logistical and venue support and are excited to have this opportunity for so many children to take part.

We expect that in excess of 300 children from 7 of our choirs will have their very first MFY Regional Festival experience on April 23rd. We are taking a slightly different approach with the morning being a workshop and performances for the Music Mentor taking place in the afternoon. There will also be collaborative performances with all 7 choirs performing together.

It’s super exciting".

About the author

Rebecca Campbell


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