Would-be musicians are invited to perform

AN entire community will be invited to star in a music video tomorrow – with each person playing just one note.

AN entire community will be invited to star in a music video tomorrow – with each person playing just one note.

St Michael’s church, Byker, will be transformed into a film set for the unusual performance in which even the terminally non-musical can participate.

Single notes strummed, plucked or tapped on a variety of instruments will be filmed and cleverly spliced together to produce a piece of music composed specifically for the event.

The final cut will then appear as an instillation at Newcastle Civic Centre as the city council is funding the project.

Organiser Anton Hecht, an artist who has worked on several community art projects with the council, says the aim of the film is to encourage people who do not normally play instruments to get involved in performance.

“People can be quite excluded from music making if they are not trained and we are trying to democratise the playing process,” he said. “It will be something like a pop video but rather than them dancing around in the background, they will actually be playing the tune.”

The film will be around three minutes long and Hecht says the editing technique will produce the effect of one person merging into the other in what appears to be a single shot.

“There will be lots of different faces and people will be filmed separately so may never meet each other in real life but will play together on the video,” he says.

Leaflets with the enticing question “Want to be a star?” have been distributed throughout Byker and even crews from the local fire and police stations are keen to perform.

The piece of music that will emerge in the film also has its roots firmly in the community.

Composer Andy Jackson has based his score on an old folk song called Byker Hill.

“It’s all about the tools people have to take down the pits and has a very simple melody to it,” he says.

And simplicity was the key challenge for Jackson who had to devise the piece from just five notes so that they could be edited together seamlessly.

Players will be able to display their musical prowess on the guitar, piano, xylophone, viola or double bass.

Jackson is the creative director of the Cobweb Orchestra which encourages North-East people of all musical abilities to play together.

He will be on hand at St Michael’s to conduct the musicians.

“It’s absolutely about people being able to be involved in music and often people can contribute an awful lot even without any skill,” he says.

The project is part of the planned transformation of St Michael’s from a church into an arts and heritage centre.

A community group, Aspire, has been created in partnership with the church to create a cultural hub in the very heart of the Byker Wall estate.

Phil Kitchen, the group’s chairman, says that while there are other arts centres being created as part of a citywide regeneration scheme, St Michael’s will have a more authentic feel.

“The pews have been taken out already and we have had some exhibitions there,” he says.

But he adds that the church will continue to function as a place of worship, with a space set aside where the alter used to be.

“We hope to have productions and an outside performance area with a fantastic view as a backdrop. It is like an urban oasis.”

Anyone wanting to try their hand at music making can visit St Michael’s from 11am to 5pm tomorrow.


David Whetstone
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