Religious theatre

25th March 2016

Leicester @ The Cross

Good Friday and Christians gathered in Humberstone, in Leicester city centre, for a celebration of Easter, the Christian festival that marks the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

The audience in Humberstone Gate on Good Friday
The audience in Humberstone Gate on Good Friday

It was a bright sunny morning at Humberstone Gate began to fill with people. A large stage had been assembled at the Charles Street end of the wide pedestrian concourse.

Rap artist Jonezy singing on stage on Good Friday
Rap artist Jonezy singing on stage on Good Friday

On stage was a full live band and enormous puppets took part in the enactment of various parts of the easter story.

An actor playing Christ on the cross
An actor playing Christ on the cross

In a dramatic scene, an actor, playing the part of Jesus, was raised on the stage to portray the crucifixion.

Singer David Lewis leading the musical praise
Singer David Lewis leading the musical praise

The crowd was invited to join in with singing led by local musician David Lewis who had written a song especially for this event. David also sings with the local band Once Vagrant Souls.

Jonezy is a hip-hop artist from Loughborough
Jonezy is a hip-hop artist from Loughborough

A lively and inspriational performance was given by local artist Jonezy, the hip-hop singer from Loughborough who is well known in Leicester.

The acting Bishop of Leicester
The acting Bishop of Leicester

The act of worship was opened with prayers from the acting bishop of Leicester, the Rt Revd John Holbrook.

A welcome address was given by the Archdeacon of Leicester, Revd Dr Tim Stratford.

The crucifixion is portrayed on stage
The crucifixion is portrayed on stage

Scenes from the Easter story were enacted by giant puppets, making it easy for people to see what was happened from a long distance away.

A dramatic moment in the event was when an actor, playing Jesus, was hoisted up on stage, on a large wooden cross.

Public performances of the Easter story have been taking place in Leicester since the middle ages.

Getting the message across with the help of a large screen
Getting the message across with the help of a large screen

The whole of Humberstone Gate was filled with people, on this bright Friday morning and the local radio station was there to provide a live report.

Sheets were handed giving the words of the songs enabling people to join in with the singing, led by local musician David Lewis and backed by a substantial live band.

One of the highlights of the event was a performance by local hip-hop artist Jonezy, who performed several of his own songs, with plenty of zeal and energy.  This proved to be a hit with the crowd, for people of all ages but especially for the youngsters who were there.

On stage, actors and puppeteers portrayed scenes from the easter story including palm Sunday and the Crucifixion.

The event was organised on an inter-demoninational basis, drawing in members of the Anglican and Methodist faith traditions.

Jonezy performed his song I’m Alive, a positive vibe affirmation of the way he feels and a testimony to his Christian faith.

See more about this event on Music in Leicester magazine.

 

Festivals in 2016

Festivals in Leicester
for 2016

9th February 2016

Leicester is a city of festivals; every weekend, and sometimes during the week, there is always at least one festival in Leicester and Leicestershire.

Music, culture, dance, comedy… there is always an event going on to temp you into the city or out into the county.

Here is our our selection of what to expect in 2016

Comedy

Dave’s Leicester Comedy Festival is underway now; drawing people into Leicester’s venues, from all over the country.

Music

The festival season kicks off at the end of May with the Glastonbudget festival held over the May bank holiday weekend. A host of bands and singers will gathered on the festival’s many stages to bring you all the best of new music from today and the most memorable tunes from yesteryear.

See the Glastonbudget website for more.

Come back to this back soon for more:  The Mela, Caribbean Carnival, Pride… lots more to come

Caribbean Carnival

Caribbean Carnival 2016
Caribbean Carnival 2016

See also:

The festivals page on Music in Leicester magazine.

BlackHistory 2015

Black History Month Leicester

Throughout October 2015

Black History Month (BHM) returns to Leicester, celebrating the heritage, history and achievements of African and African Caribbean communities with a full programme of events, from arts to education.

BHM runs throughout October, and this year’s theme acknowledges jazz icon Billie Holiday in what is the centenary year of her birth. In fitting homage, the festival launches on Friday 25 September with Strange Fruit: A Tribute to Billie Holiday, showcasing a selection of talented locally based singers and musicians.

Included in the line-up is Carol Leeming, renowned as a hugely versatile artist with a very powerful and distinct vocal style; innately skilled, innovative performer of song, spoken word, jazz vocalese and scat, Mellow Baku; established jazz vocalist Dee Joseph; and emerging talents Lydia Unsudimi and Ili Sanchea, alongside musical accompaniment from saxophonist Marcus Joseph, double bass player Mark Trounson and drummer Paul Whistler, under the musical direction of Neil Hunter. Those attending the event are encouraged to embrace the 40s and 50s jazz club scene by dressing up in their best cocktail dresses and dinner suits, in what will be a unique event at Leicester’s City Hall.

Black History Month is organised by local diversity-led arts charity, Serendipity, on behalf of Leicester City Council, which provides funding.

Numerous events will be taking place across the city during October, including workshops, lectures and book talks, music events, comedy and theatre. Upstairs at the Western pub, in Western Road, host Michelle Inniss will present her thought-provoking new play She Called Me Mother, which stars esteemed actor Cathy Tyson, and the witty Doc Brown makes an appearance at The Y with The Weird Way Round. Doc has gained fame on Russell Howard’s Good News and YouTube.

In partnership with Serendipity, the Phoenix will be screening a series of films from biopics and documentaries to ground-breaking Hollywood classics Jazz on a Summer’s Day and Stormy Weather.
Visitors to Leicester Libraries will be able to hear some Somali Lullabies, while the city’s museums service will be presenting a talk highlighting the contribution of The West Indian Regiment in the Great War.

This year also sees the introduction of a new initiative by 2Funky Arts. BHM Radio 2Funky will empower local young people to present and produce radio shows, providing further information about the BHM programme alongside music, news and documentary features.

Pawlet Brookes, artistic director at Serendipity said: “This year’s Black History Month programme is a fantastic opportunity for people in Leicester to come together, with a range of events celebrating the cultural contributions of the African and African Caribbean community historically, and also providing platforms for emerging talent to showcase their work.
“It is a privilege to oversee Black History Month in Leicester. There is something for everyone, and we hope that people across the city will make the most of the opportunity to attend some of the exciting events BHM 2015 has to offer.”

Cllr Piara Singh Clair, assistant city mayor responsible for culture, leisure, heritage and sport, said: “Black History Month is once again offering a fantastic range of events that showcase the talent, history and rich culture of the black community.
“Black History Month is a chance for everyone in Leicester to celebrate the important contribution the black community has made to our city and beyond. I hope that lots of people will take this opportunity to get involved.”

To find out more about Black History Month, including full listings of the events planned, pick up a leaflet at city museums, libraries and other council buildings, call 0116 257 7316 or see the visit Leicester website or got to www.serendipity-uk.com

Follow Black History Month News on:
Twitter: @SerendipityInfo or @leicesterfest #BHM2015
Facebook: serendipity.ltd or leicesterfestivals

Published 18th September 2015

see also:

Reginald D Hunter in Leicester

City Festival 2015

Archive page

The City Festival 2015

GIANT street art, live music, dance, theatre and delicious food will fill Leicester’s streets  as part of the annual City Festival. A spectacular programme of events is set to take place over the next 11 days, including the annual Belgrave Mela, Journeys Festival and Cosmopolitan Carnival. New to this year’s festival is the Tangle art project from Australia, which will result in a massive public art display in Jubilee Square on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday (Aug 24 to 26), between 11am and 4pm each day. Tangle will enable children to create a gigantic woven play space using coloured elastic.  The event, which will also include live music, will result in an amazing piece of art in which children can play, explore and bounce.

Firm favourites, Belgrave Mela, Cosmopolitan Carnival and Journeys Festival, will help provide a packed Bank Holiday weekend of entertainment. The Cosmopolitan Carnival will take over Jubilee Square, High Street and Cathedral Gardens on Saturday (Aug 29), from 2pm until 9pm. The event will showcase the vibrant, cultural mix within Leicester through every imaginable art form. Jubilee Square will host some of the best local bands, including nationally-renowned The Paradimes. And High Street will come alive with a carnival procession featuring a lion dance, samba and belly dancers.

Band playing at the Cosmopolitan event, 2014
Band playing at the Cosmopolitan event, 2014

During the two-day festival – from 11am until 4pm on Sunday 30 August and Bank Holiday Monday – Orton Square will be transformed into a global village. There will be an eclectic mix of music from across continents, some of the latest short films about freedom and democracy, kite crafting and flying and 3D street art.

Humberstone Gate, Gallowtree Gate, East Gates, the Clock Tower and Leicester Market will welcome a glittering mix of live music, dance, food, fashion, entertainment and Indian culture during Belgrave Mela.

Taking place on Bank Holiday Monday (31st Aug), from 11am until 6pm, the Mela will include South Asian arts and culture as well as plenty of live entertainment. There will be local bands, artists creating incredible art pieces, free cultural workshops, large-scale film projection performance, multicultural dance performances and a dazzling carnival procession.

The packed programme of events gets under way on Friday 21 August and continues until the Bank Holiday (Monday 31 August).

See also

What’s on in Leicester

The Cosmopolitan Carnival

Classic rock is dead

Classic rock is dead

Published in 2013

The death of Margaret Thatcher has brought about an unprecedented feeding frenzy of analysis and reflection on the state of current British politics. Politicians and journalists have this week been frenetically picking over the life and times of 1980s.

Will we witness anything similar when we inevitably celebrate the death of Ozzy Osbourne or Mick Jagger or David Bowie?

Well nothing to the same extent, of course, in the mainstream news media. Yes, we will see the expected obituaries for a day but media like the BBC will not recognise music or entertainment as having anything like the significance of the passing of a politician. What changes the soul of a country more – its politics or its music? This is a challenging question but one for another day.

Also last week we saw reports that scientists have ‘discovered’ that listening to new music is good for your health. Notice that the use of the word ‘new’ in the headlines. Can we follow through the logic of that analysis by concluding that listening to classic rock is bad for you?

http://www.nme.com/news/various-artists/69706

I would like to argue that it is. Classic rock was, like Margaret Thatcher’s period in Downing Street, an era of contemporary British history. The era, in which huge crowds of people avidly followed AC/DC, The Clash, Judas Priest, Black Sabbath, Metallica, Deep Purple, was a great golden age of the twentieth century. Many people have moved on from the 1980s, both in politics and in the world of modern music.

The mid twenty-first century is an exciting time for popular music. Music lovers now have a much wider choice of genres, styles and tendencies than their parents or grand parents had in the middle of the last decade. Young people are now listening as much to dub-step and hip-hop as they are to rock and musicians have begun to merge and cross-over these musical styles, much more so now than ever before.

Just as jazz and blues had a fundamentally formative influence on the emergence of classic rock, so now contemporary musicians are bending their ears to the world of hip-hop and urban music for inspiration.

The music which excites me is that which moves the boundaries of popular music tastes. The music which bores me is that which harks back to the bygone age of rock and emulates the musical styles of bands that have passed into history.

Classic rock is dead but like the current celebration of deceased political leaders, it is a death that had brought fresh energy and enthusiasm to those who look back to the great golden ages of the past rather than to the bright horizons of the future.

Bands that are recycling classic rock do not rate highly in my lexicon of contemporary notoriety. There is no shortage of people who want to go to festivals that celebrate and tribute the old school of rock. I look at the crowds standing in front of stages joyfully celebrating a band that is recreating the musical traditions of the past. I see a group of men and women who are largely the same age as the musicians whose outpourings they continue to admire.

Yes you will see some fans whose ‘discovery’ of classic rock’s musical offering pre-dates their own birth dates by a decade or more. We can acknowledge the timeless appeal of classic rock and no, I am not arguing that it’s completely over, so let it go. What excites me far more are bands that have their fingers very firmly on the pulse of contemporary music, those who are doing today what the great bands did nearly half a century ago.

I know that some bands who are devoted to the revival of bygone musical traditions are contributing something valuable to musical heritage. My boat is floated far more by musicians who are trying to forge the music of the current time rather than looking back to a great golden age that has passed into history.

New music is about struggling to define where we are now. Heritage rock is about looking back to where we have been. We know where we have been. The generation that applauded AC/DC, Led-Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, Motorhead, The Rolling Stones, Iron Maiden, did so because the music they heard then reflected something about their contemporary culture and life style. Bands making new music now are doing exactly the same thing – reacting to and being part of the world around them, reflecting the joys, tribulations, passions and anxieties of the youth of today, just as the rock legends of the past did when they were the headline acts of their era.

One other recent comment sticks in my mind. The lead singer of a contemporary rock band complained that old bands, like the Rolling Stones, are keeping new bands off the main headline slots at major festivals.

At the time he came out with his comment, my immediate reaction was to congratulate him for his point of view. Would I want to pay some ridiculous amount of money to go and see The Rolling Stones play their last ever live gig? No. I know what they are like; these old bands have been recorded in films and audio in a may which their precursors were not. The musicians of the 1930s, 40s and 50s had nothing like the extent of archival footage accorded to the generation that grew up in the glare of the then newly emerging mass media.

Even the rise of the Beatles in the 1960s is extensively filmed, photographed and archived in a way not matched in previous decades.

Men and women who are now in their 50s and 60s and even older, long to relive the experiences they had when when they were 20 somethings. This older generation of rock-goers seems intent on spending what ever amount of money it takes to relive the past, going to tribute and fake festivals to see bands that attempt to re-create these by-gone legends or pay even more to see the very last vestiges of the live performances of these really old bands.

It is perfectly possible of course that in 20 or 30 years time we will see grey-haired music fans queuing up to see the final performances by the new bands of today reliving the glories of their past and indulgently re-living the heights of their achievement in the mid-twenthieth century.

Popular music and rock in particular is for me one of life’s great voyages of discovery. The reason you won’t see me in the front rows of this year’s festivals, rocking out to these heritage bands, is that I came into rock music long after their time had past.

My youth was not about rock music. I was well on the other side of my fifties before I began going to rock music gigs. I trace my passion for rock music back to the first festival I ever went to – Reading 2001 – well past my fiftieth birthday.

My youth missed out on the live experiences of the Rolling Stones, Black Sabbath, Guns n’ Roses, Queen, Megadeth … my life-style was taking place in another country. I was going to see live symphony orchestras, opera and ballet but not rock bands. The only live music I ever saw in the Albert Hall was The Promenade Concerts.

What got me into rock music was Linkin Park, Marylin Manson, Green Day, Manic Street Preachers, Papa Roach, Queens of the Stone Age, Eels, Ash, System of a Down, Slipknot, … so after a life-time of classical music, I discovered rock when I went to the Reading Festival in 2001.

Over a decade later would I want to go and see all these bands again, to relive the wonderful experiences of those now far-off days in 2001? No. Music continues to be a journey marked more by discovery of the new than an indulgence in nostalgia.

Yes I might well blow the dust-off my CDs of Hybrid Theory, Meteora, Dysfunction, Volume three of the Subliminal Verses, Mesmerise and listen again to the sounds that excited me so much well over a decade ago.

That would be a rare event for me. I spend much much more time listening to the latest CDs of bands that are playing now. I celebrate the music that today’s bands are making now and not that of bands that have had their innings and whose music is dead – even if it won’t lie down.

In a world where there is so much wonderful and inspiring new music, do we really need to re-live the heritage of the past? Yes, we need to understand where new music has come from but the sources of that historical perspective are all out there on the YouTubes, CDs that are still being traded, the TV documentaries that bring it all together so well. If I am going to spend time standing in front of stages listening to live music, then for me that is time well spent if it brings me the music of today.

Trevor Locke is writing here in a personal capacity and views expressed here are not those of Arts in Leicester magazine

Postscript
Ah ha! It looks like I am not the only one – read Jim Fusilli’s article about Rolling Stone Magazine

Major new music festival showcase for Leicester?

At the Mayor’s Arts & Culture discussion tonight, held at CURVE, I asked Sir Peter Soulsby if the city would support a major music festival in Leicester to showcase our amazing local talent to the rest of the world and of course to the people of Leicester.

Sir Peter’s reply was predictable:  yes he would support the idea but don’t ask me to fund it. A city making cutbacks can’t afford to fund a major arts festival of any kind.

Here are some of my ideas to take this concept further.

(1) The city council controls the parks and open spaces where an outdoor music festival could be held. LCC normally charges for a whole range of costs in mounting any event held in its parks.  Could the city council support such an event by minimising the costs due to itself? Rather than providing funds, can the council support it in kind?  Would the Mayor support approaches to private sector investors to take the idea on board? Can the council give added value to potential businesses if they supported the festival?

(2) There are several major national live music companies that already run outdoor music events.  Putting on a music festival is feasible if the right private sector backers could be found to meet the core infrastructure costs.  We could even discuss the idea with the Arts Council.

(3) Leicester has a huge wealth of talent across all genres of music. An inner city festival next year could attract enough of a crowd to fund an event through ticket sales, given reasonable ticket prices.  In an ideal world we would all want to see a free event, like the one that took place a few years ago that was paid for by the BBC’s Radio 1 and attended by a crowd of 100,000 people.  Admittedly this was headlined by big named acts but even Leicester now has some national level acts from our own city that could draw big crowds.

(4) My idea of a showcase festival is one where all the acts are musicians and artists who were either born here or who have moved here and are now active local residents. This would put Leicester music on the map both nationally and for local people to find out more about our most talented bands, singers and rappers.

(5)  The festival could be feasible if it attracts private sector investment but the city council could play a pivotal role in allowing the event to take place (e.g. on Abbey Park or Victoria Park.) It would also have a role part to play in co-ordinating the range of public sector authorities that must be involved in large events.

(6) I know that Summer Sundae and Oxjam Festivals do provide a platform for local bands and acts to get on stage in front of big audiences but this festival would beexclusively for local music and there is certainly enough talent in this city to make a really good music festival.

I would welcome comments from people about this idea, particularly from the music community.  If there appears to be support for the idea from local people then it can be developed into a proposal for the Cultural Strategy Group that is being headed up by the Major’s Office.

 

Trevor Locke, 16th June 2011