August 2007 Archives

HOPES Children's Music Workshop  07.8.14 (Two boys) 125x87.jpg Summer 2007 has been a special opportunity for HOPES and Live-A-Music to provide Children's Music Workshops, thanks to generous funding from Awards for All. The workshops, held alternately in the city centre and a close-by suburb, have focused on themes developed by the children themselves - in one case, a 'symphony' featuring global warming, drifting snow, salsa / jazz and a roller-coaster! Following sessions in July and mid-August, the next workshops in the series are on Saturday 8 September in Mossley Hill Parish Church Hall.

These workshops have proved a great hit with budding musicians of all sorts - players of everything from the trumpet to the triangle It's not very often that parents and children of considerable musical experience and none can come together from all around Liverpool to sing, dance and make their very own music.

Details of the 8th September sessions follow below. Here are some photographs of the workshops at Mossley Hill Church Hall , Liverpool 18, on 30/31 July, and at St. Bride's Church, Liverpool 8, on 13/14 August.

Children's Music Workshop 07.7.30 7077aa (480x326).jpg

Children's Music Workshop 07.7.30 7012b (480x445).JPG

HOPES and the Live-A-Music workshop leaders are very grateful to Awards for All, who have substantially funded these Children's / Family Music sessions.

The next workshops: when, where and how
The next two children's music workshops are scheduled for Saturday 8 September at 10.30 - 12.15 and 1 - 2.45 pm. The venue is Mossley Hill Parish Church Hall, Rose Lane, L18 8DB. These sessions are part of the current series of Live-A-Music workshops organised by Richard Gordon-Smith with Martin Anthony (Tony) Burrage, and supported by HOPES: the Hope Street Association with generous funding from Awards for All.

Cost and conditions
The cost per child per session is just £3. Parents and other carers are welcome to accompany children and join in at no extra cost if they so wish. We ask that any children under seven are always accompanied by a parent and / or older sibling because this helps them to feel confident and happy.

Children attending both the morning and the afternoon sessions may bring a packed lunch, subject to their parents' written consent. (Specific details of conditions are here; but NB session timings have been revised at the request of parents.)

Booking and further information
Booking beforehand is appreciated because it helps with planning for the workshops, but children may simply turn up on Saturday 8th if they wish. Please email us to book places, or for further details. You are also welcome to use this email address to tell us you would like to go on the emailing list for notice of future workshop sessions.

And have fun
These children's workshops are an opportunity to explore and develop imaginations and musical skills, whatever the previous experience of music. They're for children (with their parent/s if that's wished) to enjoy and create new musical ideas, to tell stories in sound, and to have fun.

St Andrew's Old Church, Kingsbury, Churches Conservation Trust notice (120x168).jpg Almost within throwing distance of the new Wembley Stadium in Brent there lies another, vastly older but sadly forgotten building - the 11th Century St. Andrew's Old Church, in the grounds of the present fine establishment. Father John Smith and his parishioners are working hard to renew the present grim Church Hall and to reclaim the old church and churchyard for the local community.

Father John T. Smith 07.8.23 (160x140).jpg St Andrew's Old Church red roman bricks (100x162).jpg For Father John Smith these small red bricks have a special significance; they suggest there was a church on the site of the photograph even back in Saxon times. The bricks are the original Roman evidence of the ancient (eleventh century) church which lies adjacent to the 'new' St Andrew's Church, Kingsbury, within the grounds of his incumbency.

There is a great ambition in the parish congregation for the 'old' church and, especially the churchyard, with its many historic graves, to become a place of rest and respite in this busy part of London. Local people are giving their time and energy generously to clear the pathways and make more evident the generous clues to the area's history which the overgrown graves can offer.

This plan, part of an intended programme to replace the past-its-best Church Hall with a lively and responsive building which will serve all who live in the area, is surely one which many will wish to support.

St Andrew's Old Church, Kingsbury, and graveyard with cleared path (480x360).jpg

St Andrew's Old Church, Kingsbury, H.W. Burgess family vault, 1861-1900 Grade 1 listed (260x197).JPG St Andrew's Old Church tower 07.8.23 (260x52).jpg St Andrew's Old Church, Kingsbury (front door view)  07.8.23 (260x217).jpg

St Andrew's Old Churchyard cleared paths (180x240) 07.8.23.jpg St Andrew's Old Church tombstones (180x230).jpg

'Temporary' Church Hall behind St Andrew's Church, Kingsbury 07.8.23 (160x213).jpg St Andrew's Church Hall, crack in wall corner (160x46) 07.8.23.jpg St Andrew's Church new access ramp (in keeping with style of church) 160x206 07.8.23.jpg

Euston departure board north (small) 115x146.jpg Is large-scale sustainable transport possible? Should we welcome Britain's fastest-ever domestic train, which has arrived in Southampton this week? The UK's North- South economic divide brings these questions into sharp focus. The further one is from London, the more important connectivity can become. So is carbon footprint a critical issue only after the economics have been taken care of?

Economics and environment don't always mix. For some the pressing need is to reduce travel. For others, it is vital to improve physical connection. These complicated issues have come up the agenda again this week, with the news that the Go-Ahead Group has arranged imminent delivery of 29 high-speed Hitachi trains from Japan, which will operate from 2009 on the South Eastern network.

Low expectations?
Whilst commuters in the South are getting excited about travel times and accessibility to the Capital, those in more northerly parts of the UK are likely to be less enthused. For many the expectation of poor transport is a way of life, and there is a feeling - perhaps unjustly in respect of some local northern operators - that nothing is going to happen to change this. For others, the temptation is to believe that yet again the South is benefiting and the rest are not. Few Northerners are as yet willing to ditch their cars.

Will the new fast trains effect a change of heart? The optimists for train travel think that signs we are catching up with the Europeans will focus a national clamour for this form of transport. More dour observers suggest that because of potential damage to the environment we should not be encouraging travel anyway.

Sustainable transport, sustainable economies
I'm generally on the side of the optimists here. There's little chance of sustainable living across Britain whilst inequalities (not just North-South, but certainly including that) are so great. I'd like to see more trains, and faster ones, right across the country. This is one area of environmental concern where we really can ask the technical people to work on the 'clean and green' agenda.

Science can't solve all eco- problems, but in terms of transport and communications, we shouldn't write technology off yet. The challenge now is for the politicians to come up with proposals which will match economic balance across the North and South with the possibilities opening up in transport.

Nothing in life stays still. Sustainability in communities of whatever size must start from the 'can do', the will to be positive and fair, because any other starting point is doomed in the long-run to failure.

Burning red downtown spire (small) 125x91.jpg Regeneration and development are often focused on what's 'unique' and 'special' about a location. What does it have which others don't have? This is a good question, but it needs a context. There are many ways to define 'special' - and even more to define 'unique'. Not all of these special qualities translate well beyond local boundaries. Maybe it's when locations work with outsiders to find commonalities and difference that they can make this 'USP' regenerational focus most effective? But how can this be done? And by whom?

Marketing and renewal have in recent times become closely connected in terms of what happens to areas which require 'regeneration'. Along with the basics of reasonable housing and facilities, there is often a clear focus on what sort of 'unique selling point' (USP) a location can offer, as plans are made to develop and energise a rather stagnant local economy / community.

As an initial strategy this is sensible. Asking people to reflect on the defining features of their locality is a good way to support emerging ideas about how to improve things. Direct stakeholders' views are always crucial to the exercise.

Local perspectives
It is not always reasonable to expect those who live in a place to be aware of what is unique about their location, and what may not be. How can we be sure?

But encouraging the view that a place is better / more interesting than anywhere else can be a political or cynical ploy, not a genuine attempt to move forward. How much easier to leave people in their comfort zone, than to challenge local assumptions which perhaps make a difficult situation more immediately palatable for those who have to cope with it every day...

Wider responsibilities?
One aspect of regeneration in practice is a responsibility by those who take the lead, to ensure that the wider picture is at least available to direct stakeholders. No-one can insist that everyone has a wider view, but it seems reasonable to require at minimum that this is easily available. (Not all regeneration powers-that-be would agree about this requirement, of course; and many of them are not equipped for various reasons to do it.)

Finding common ground
Suggestions that things could be better if we emulated others elsewhere - or indeed the proposal that, instead of insisting we're unique, we acknowledge commonality with others who also do things well / have a given local attribute - need not be negative.

Offered positively, information about other places and ways of doing things becomes a strength. Why not share a problem or a benefit? Increasingly, disparate geographical areas are coming together in this way. The North of England Mills and Canals conferences have been going for some years; BURA has recently identified both the Seaside and Universities as shared challenges and opportunities for the towns and cities concerned; rural areas have long-time histories of sharing good practice in agricultural produce shows and much else.

Taking it to the people
These good ideas now need to become more visible. For regeneration to be effective ordinary people, the immediate stakeholders in the process - not just the experts - must understand what's happening and why. And part of that much-needed understanding is sharing commonality (specialness) as well as defining uniqueness.

Is there a role here for new ways to reach regenerating communities on the world-wide web? And, if so, who's going to make it happen?

Pinhao smallholding & boat 2007 (small) 115x117.jpg This week is U.K. National Allotments Week, promoting 'the awareness and availability of allotments both locally and nationally, to show ... the strength of support and interest for the heritage of allotment culture.' This excellent initiative is quite new, but allotments themselves have stood the test of time. Here is an example from rural Portugal, on a tributary of the Duoro River, of a smallholding which has probably been in place for centuries.

Pinhao smallholding, Duoro River, Portugal August 2007 (480x439).jpg

You may also like to see these photographs and articles:

Early Summer In Edinburgh Botanic Gardens

Cherry Blossom For May Day In Sefton Park, Liverpool

Wirral's Ness Gardens

Sefton Park, Liverpool: Winter Solstice 2006

Flowers In Pots For All

Liverpool Botanic Garden, Edge Lane

Visiting Valencia

Love Parks Week!

Seasonal Food - Who Knows About It?

Read more about National Allotments Week here: National Allotment Gardens Trust

Singer 85x85.jpg The BBC Proms offer many different routes to enlightenment, but this is a new one to me. A listing of events for August tells us that some singers are 'singers' or 'vocalists', and others are sopranos, mezzos, tenors, basses or, indeed, 'voices'. A look at the particular concert programmes suggests why this may be...

The clue lies in expressions like 'An evening with..', followed simply by the names of 'singers', or, alternatively, a long and detailed list of exactly what is to be performed, by whom and in what capacity.

Different languages
These are the discourses respectively of popular performance / 'entertainment' and on the other hand of 'high-classical'. The one is awash with generality, the other with detail and implicit demands that we already understand what it's all about.

Traversing the barriers
Occasionally of course the most-acclaimed performers of 'high-classical' cross the boundary to 'entertainment'; but crossing substantially in the other direction rarely occurs. 'Entertainers' may offer a selection of classically-inspired songs; they don't do full operas.

Is this huge distinction between genres necessary? Perhaps in the performers' terms it's inevitable, but in audience terms I'd like to see a bit more effort in general to 'take' classical music to people - not pre-concert talks necessarily (to some, an acquired taste) but much, much earlier in the average person's artistic experience.

Starting early and comfortably
Schools, for instance, need well-versed teachers feeling as comfortable with classical music as most feel with the more popular modes. (A few inspired teachers play music of all kinds to their pupils; would that more did so.) But acquaintance with 'classical' music is what's missing as a result of the austere curriculum experienced by people who were schoolchildren themselves in the 1980s, when the arts were dismissed as almost frivolous.

Singers have it all
The BBC Proms offer an excellent start, but classical music has so much to offer at any time. It's a real shame that many people find themselves mystified or out of their depth with it.

There are growing numbers of top professional singers, labelled however you like, who enjoy good music of all kinds. These artists would surely agree that, alongside the genuine excitement and glamour of a good popular-music-based 'show', classical music also is far too good to miss.

Child & fountains Somerset House 104x80 6691aa.jpg Somerset House in London is rightly famous for its Winter skating rink, an imaginative and welcome attraction in the city. High Summer, however, permits another simple way to enjoy this historic venue's versatile water feature, as the little person here discovered.

Somerset House fountains & child, London 495x366 6692a.jpg

See also Camera & Calendar

More information on Somerset House here.