A Bigger Sound

A Bigger Sound

 

A Bigger Sound

 

In September 2011 we partnered with Rideout (Creative Arts for Rehabilitation) on ‘A Bigger Sound’ – an exciting and ambitious cross-arts collaboration with adult men at HMP The Mount. Members of the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra were also brought on board to help deliver the five-week project, culminating in four elating performances which were seen by audiences of more than 330 people, consisting of other prisoners, prison staff, participants’ family members and invited outside guests.

5 A Bigger Sound - RPO violin and prison bandAll the ideas for the show, titled Sail or Jail, were generated by the participants. Rideout worked with a group on the dramatic element, while the Music in Prisons team, Sara Lee and Rex Horan, joined by violinist Rosie Wainwright and trumpeter Brian Thomson from the RPO, drew out the musical ideas from the participant band (read the RPO blog about the project here).

A Bigger Sound - MiP's Nick Hayes conductsMusic in Prisons’ Nick Hayes then orchestrated the music to include an ensemble of an additional 6 RPO musicians for the final performances. Overall, it was a fantastic opportunity for prisoners to work alongside top-quality professional musicians and actors:

“One of the things that struck me most was how the professionals and the men melded together into one company. Right until the end when they left the room I was still guessing who was who.”
Ellie, Sail or Jail audience member

The triumphs and tribulations of creating, rehearsing and performing Sail or Jail were captured on a BBC Radio 2 documentary narrated by Craig Charles; The Band Behind Bars followed the process from start to finish, featuring insights from the project team and participants. You can read an article by producer Heather Davies including short clips from the documentary here.

A Bigger Sound - in action“I have been given the opportunity to give my children something so positive that its importance to me just cannot be put into words.”
Participant, A Bigger Sound project

“I feel more tranquil and I feel really very proud.”
Participant, A Bigger Sound project

“I think Music in Prisons have a special rehabilitative role and there should be much more access to their projects and music in prisons in general.”
Participant, A Bigger Sound project

“Sara, Rex & Nick worked incredibly hard and they had an openness which one can only learn from.”
Participant, A Bigger Sound project

Listen to one of the moving tracks created on the project below:

“This challenging and complex creative process resulted in a riveting performance of music-theatre that will resonate in the memories of both performers and audience for some time to come. The depth of engagement of the actors and musicians from HMP The Mount was impressive. Their teamwork and personal commitment shone through and it was clear that creative processes of this quality and diversity have a major role to play in the rehabilitation of prisoners. There is no doubt that events like this help to give meaning to people’s lives. That is why the arts are especially important in this kind of setting.But the quality of the event would not have happened without the significant contribution of a wide range of people – the finely honed musical and leadership skills of the MiP musicians; the imagination and theatre skills of Rideout; the enthusiasm and willingness to learn of the RPO musicians; the open and supportive attitude of The Mount’s management and support staff, together with the vision and trust of the various funding bodies. All these ‘voices’ contributed to the success of a very special occasion.” Peter Renshaw, ITT Trustee, audience member 

A Bigger Sound - MiP Nick conducts RPO ensemble“Sitting in an oasis of creativity amongst a sea of barbed wire and locked doors I was amazed by the positivity and creativity of all involved.  The obvious affection and respect between the whole team was palpable.  Where else would the members of the Royal Philharmonic work as equals amongst young men whom society has shut away.  I found the theme particularly poignant; as each actor  chose to take his chances with five years at sea rather than face jail I felt that these were possibly real decisions and might just give the few people lucky enough to be able to take part a pause for thought about how they would live their lives on release.”
Suzanne, Sail or Jail audience member

All ‘A Bigger Sound’ photos by Andrew Billington.

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