“I relished the opportunity to collaborate with a group of new, untrained composers and use their raw talent, energy and ideas to develop a piece of new music for the Cultural Olympiad. Let’s not keep certain aspects of British society under wraps, but demonstrate that positivity and artistic talent can be found wherever we look.” Mark-Anthony Turnage, Composer
ITT was delighted to be included in a unique programme as part of the London 2012 Cultural Olympiad; PRS for Music Foundation’s New Music 20×12 consisted of twenty new pieces of music, each 12 minutes in length, celebrating the talent and imagination of the UK’s musical community. ITT was honoured to be selected to take part in such a prestigious project and enable serving prisoners to contribute their voices to this national event.
Over 5 days in December 2011 the process of composing the 12-minute commission began, written and recorded jointly by 15 men from HMP Lowdham Grange, guided by internationally acclaimed British contemporary composer Mark-Anthony Turnage and the Music in Prisons project team. The resulting piece, Beyond This, is a stunning testimony to the hidden creative potential within our prisons. Comprised of four-movements, Beyond This encompasses choral, contemporary, rap and pop influences, running a gauntlet of emotion as the performers contemplate on life “beyond these walls”.
Artistic Director, Sara Lee, was part of the project delivery team: “The week was incredible; challenging, humorous and poignant in equal measures. The creativity and commitment of the group was unfailing and as we parted ways at the end of the week, there was a real sense that the men knew they had been part of something of real quality. When the project team returned a few weeks later for the dress rehearsal and premiere it was like we had never been away. The band heard the final version of the music as a pre rehearsal reminder and were amazed to hear how Nick (project leader) had mixed the music they had written. They were also overjoyed to see how Lizzie and Andy had interpreted their music with some magical imagery, forming the film which is the lasting legacy of the project.”
Beyond This premiered on the 19th January 2012 at HMP Lowdham Grange with performances to other prisoners, prison staff and an invited external audience. It was, unfortunately, due to the context of the project, the only chance to witness the prisoner-composers playing live. However, through the stunning film (above!) created by artist Lizzie Coombes and video-maker Andy Wood, Beyond This has been able to travel beyond the prison gates, with showings at St Marylebone Parish Church and the Southbank Centre.
Beyond This was featured on BBC One o’clock news and BBC online,The Times, Gramophone Magazine and at The Space. Turnage also spoke about the project on BBC Radio 4’s Midweek (from 33.38). Beyond This will undoubtedly stand out as a highpoint for ITT for many years to come.
All photos for Beyond This are by Lizzie Coombes.