The People Make The Place: the concert bringing community groups and professional musicians together on stage

The one-off concert brings together top classical musicians from the Manchester Camerata with school pupils, grassroots groups, a choir of young people and residents who attend a dementia cafe.

A Manchester orchestra is bringing community groups and professional musicians together on the same stage for a spectacular one-off concert at its home in the city.

The People Make The Place will take place at The Monastery in Gorton, which is the home of the Manchester Camerata, on Thursday 17 November. A chamber ensemble of 13 musicians from the orchestra will be joined by grassroots choirs, school groups and residents who attend its dementia cafe, all making music together in a celebration of inclusion and community.

They will play a variety of music including favourite pieces selected by the participants, a new work inspired by the Manchester community where the concert is happening and songs written by some of the outreach projects involved. The concert is also taking place towards the end of 12 months of celebrations to mark the Manchester Camerata’s 50th anniversary.

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    What is The People Make The Place?

    The People Make The Place will bring together 13 musicians from the Manchester Camerata, the choir at HideOut Youth Zone in Gorton, Gorton Voice and other local music groups, pupils from Old Hall Drive Academy and St Peter’s RC High School and participants in the orchestra’s ground-breaking music cafe for residents with dementia and their carers.

    The audience will hear pieces selected by those on stage, including arrangements of Puttin’ On The Ritz by Irving Berlin, the Habanera from Bizet’s opera Carmen and the Libertango by Piazzolla. There will also be songs written by the groups taking part and a new work called Carved In Gorton Stone composed by Alex Ho, which is inspired by time he spent in the area.

    The dementia cafe run by Manchester Camerata at The Monastery in Gorton

    Inclusion is an important part of the project as pupils will be interpreting the song written by the dementia cafe participants in British Sign Language (BSL), having been taught to do so by Deaf Village North West in Blackburn.

    The free concert is at 5.30pm on Thursday 17 November and more information is available from the Manchester Camerata website.

    What has been said about it?

    Creative producer Max Thomas said it was notable how many of the groups had chosen to celebrate local pride in their songs for the special concert.

    He said: “A lot of the groups have chosen to celebrate where they live and are talking about a sense of belonging to Gorton. They will be performing these to their friends and family in the audience while the Camerata accompanies them.

    “The Camerata is an orchestra that has embraced a lot of change and has tried to drive that forward. This project is about finding a way for an orchestra to serve local people.

    “I think it’s important that we don’t just export what we do onto people. It’s important to bring people in and make them part of what we do, if they want to be, to give people the decision-making power to create and co-create with us.

    The Manchester Camerata’s music cafe at The Monastery in Gorton. Photo: Duncan Elliott

    “This concert will bring together a real melting pot of groups who wouldn’t normally mix together, but they will be united under one roof in the beautiful Monastery nave. It’s an incredible resource and venue and it’s there for everyone to be a part of in Gorton.

    “In the last couple of weeks we’ve had lots of parents popping into the foyer saying their kids are in a concert but they have never been in the Monastery before. It has been lovely to show them in and it will be lovely to share the concert experience.”

    Alex, a Royal Philharmonic Society (RPS) composer, said: “It’s really special seeing how Manchester Camerata are finding ways to work meaningfully with different communities who may not have a huge amount of interaction with classical music. I was fortunate to spend a day with the team to meet some of the community who participate in these activities and it was an incredibly humbling experience.

    “Finding a creative response to this communal setting is an exciting challenge but one that is in line with my own interests in questioning what classical music is and who it is for.”

    The Monastery, pictured from Gorton Lane.

    Eva Richardson, youth worker at HideOut Youth Zone, said: “It’s been a great opportunity to work with Manchester Camerata again to form the HideOut Youth Zone Choir 2022. We’ve worked with Manchester Camerata on various projects since HideOut opened back in 2020, and the value of this partnership for our young people is special.

    “I’ve had the pleasure of supporting the People Make the Place project over the last six weeks at the youth zone, and it’s been great to see our young people’s involvement throughout. Since the project began, our members have grown massively in confidence. They’ve not only put a huge amount of effort into their own personal development and musical skills, but they’ve all worked really hard as a team to come together, with the help of Manchester Camerata, to create a unique song that they can all be proud of.

    “More importantly however, the project has been a great catalyst for significant conversations. Young people have had the opportunity to critically think about their local area and they’ve brought important topics to the table which have helped to form this incredible piece of music. For our young people, it’s been about exploring their culture, their heritage and their history, finding what makes them special and using that as a celebration of their local community; the place where they’re growing up, and the place that will ultimately shape them.

    “At HideOut Youth Zone, we believe all young people need is a chance to see what they’ve got and where it could take them, and this project embodies that. I’m really proud of what they’ve achieved.”

    Annette Butler from Deaf Village North West said: “The Manchester school pupils loved learning BSL. Many of them had never met a deaf person before so we could introduce them to people from the deaf community and they could learn more about deafness and how it impacts on a person.

    “This project is an amazing opportunity for organisations to work together. We’re all about bringing down the barriers and misconceptions of the deaf community and what it’s like to be deaf. Working with primary school children gives them an education and an alternative perspective they might not have been exposed to previously.”

    Annette said the Deaf Village is also discussing working with the Camerata in future on more projects.