Monthly Archives: October 2012

Urban Music Leaders challenge PenUltimate!

MPA’s volunteer Dominique visits the Urban Music Leaders project…

Mid Pennine Arts have received an award from National Lottery’s Youth Music fund for an exciting project in Burnley and Nelson developing hip hop music with young people. The project will broadly explore hip hop culture: rhyming, beat boxing, urban art and turntablism. We will be working with young people to develop their skills as music leaders, teaching the techniques they have learned to their peers, with the chance to gain Arts Awards accreditation along the way.

So with this in mind we set off in Lucy’s car for Sir John Thursby Community College for a taster session and picked up some hip hop artists from the bus station on the way. Ben Mellor and Martin Stannage led the session and are part of PenUltimate, Manchester’s premier hip hop and spoken word collective.

We pulled up to the very impressive architecture of the college and were met by Mr Wilson the music teacher who helped Ben and Martin set up the space. We were then joined by a group of enthusiastic young people who had signed up for the session. Ben and Martin began by recording a short example of some beat boxing laying sounds over one another to compose a beat. It was incredible to watch and hear such a variety of beats and pops and booms all created by Ben and Martin’s bodies!

Then it was the turn of the young people to have a go, Ben and Martin taught a few bass sounds as well as experimenting with noises from the lips and throat for the ones brave enough to have a go. There were many questions to follow from the young people including challenging Martin to a free style hip hop poem; Martin accepted this challenge with impressive skill.

With the young people fired up to continue with the project in half terms ‘boot camp’ it was time to drop Ben and Martin back at the bus stop leaving Lucy and I to practice our beat boxing techniques for next time.

Visit MPA’s website for more information.

Urban Music Leaders Taster Session


Black Roses – The Killing of Sophie Lancaster

David, our Coordinator for Creative Learning spends an evening in Manchester at the Royal Exchange Theatre.

Black Roses – The Killing of Sophie Lancaster

The Royal Exchange Studio in Manchester; two actors; poetry from Simon Armitage, words from Sophie’s mother Sylvia Lancaster; a simple cleverly designed set: a heart breaking true story from Rossendale.

Sophie Lancaster was twenty years old.  Together with her boyfriend Robert Maltby they encountered a group of youths in Stubby Lee Park in Bacup.  Both were attacked.  Sophie was killed.

Simon Armitage’s poetry gives a voice to Sophie. It could easily have been played with intense emotion by Rachel Austin but it is not. Rachel allows the emotion to come from the words themselves and they are immensely powerful.

Between the poems, are layered the words of Sophie’s mum as she recounts her story of Sophie, her goth daughter, and that fateful night.  She is played brilliantly by Julie Hesmondhalgh as she struggles to understand.

This is theatre at its most powerful; the arts at work slapping you in the face to make you take notice: a crime of hate.

We are kindly creatures, peaceful souls,

But something of our life aggravates theirs,

Something in their lives despises ours.

The difference between us is what they can’t stand.”

…and the black roses?  They are the bruises on Sophie’s body,  ‘the bitter  bruises of self-defence’.

Pull the curtains around.

Call the angels down.

Now let me go.

Now carry me home.

Now make this known.”

We left the theatre in silence, not a word spoken, even on the bus home to Burnley.

The Sophie Lancaster Foundation