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COOLture Conversations


Writer Cassandra Parkin

Rappers from Tang Hall SMART

Exploring gamelan with Castaway Goole

Experimenting with taiko

The original Hull Rhythm Pixies line-up

University of York Gamelan Sekar Petak Ensemble
As part of the Music4U programme, NCEM worked with Hull City Council's Creative Voice programme to develop a spectacular multi-cultural performance event, in celebration of the 10th birthday of the COOLture Young People's Cultural Arts Festival. The final performance took place in Hull City Hall on Saturday 17 June, 1-3pm, and was preceded by a host of diverse creative collaborations, under the banner COOLture Conversations, taking place across Hull, York and the East Riding of Yorkshire.

COOLture Conversations was designed to reflect the experiences of young people growing up across this region, exploring their roots and the routes they take as they journey through their lives. Their stories were presented via a musical melting pot of Javanese gamelan, Japanese Taiko, South Asian artforms, urban & electronic music and spoken word, created by regional youth groups, supported by Hull-born author Cassandra Parkin and musicians from SAA UK, Music4U, Humber Taiko, Tang Hall SMART, Castaway Goole and the University of York. COOLture Conversations was part of the celebration of the 'Roots & Routes' season of Hull City of Culture 2017.

COOLture Conversations collaborations included:
  • Home-educated young people from across the region and members of the local Tang Hall community, working with Tang Hall SMART, gamelan musicians Emily Crossland and Ángel Cataño Flores, and members of the University of York Gamelan Sekar Petak ensemble. Together, they  explored relationships between rap and gamelan and premiered their work in the York Concerts Series on Friday 19 May.
  • Young people, with and without disabilities, from across the Goole community, working with gamelan musicians Emily Crossland and Ángel Cataño Flores, University of York Community Music MA student Maddy Sutton, and writer Cassandra Parkin, to develop new approaches to blending music and words.  An informal initial sharing took place at Castaway Goole on Saturday 3 June, at which the University of York gamelan ensemble also performed, marking the first ever traditional gamelan performance in Goole!
  • A multi-cultural youth collaboration in Hull, led by community musician Donna Smith and the Hull Rhythm Pixies world fusion ensemble (which started as part of Music4U's Youth Music Mentors programme in 2008), blending Javanese gamelan and West African rhythm.
  • A partnership between Hull & East Riding Hindu Cultural Association and SAA-UK, enabling Hull-based young people to develop their skills in South Asian instrumental playing and ensemble work and to receive specialist professional tuition.
  • Young people from St Michaels Youth Project in Orchard Park, Hull, working with regional Japanese drumming specialists, Humber Taiko, to learn pieces from the lively and physical taiko repertoire, as well as developing their own compositions and performing in collaboration with gamelan musicians from the University of York. Humber Taiko also led workshops as part of the COOLture Lord Mayor's Gala event on Saturday 10 June in Hull's Queens Gardens.
  • Hull-born writer, Cassandra Parkin, meeting with and interviewing young people from diverse backgrounds (including the Libyan School, the Polish community, Hull & East Riding Hindu Association, St Michael's Youth Project, and others), exploring their views on cultural identity and using their responses to create a series of poems which were subsequently set to music by Emily Crossland and performed as part of COOLture Conversations on Saturday 17 June in Hull City Hall.

Here's what young people said about their experience of the project:
  • "That was something new - never experienced anything like it before!"
  • "It was brilliant because it was all about identity and sense of self...and everyone contributed"
  • "I loved that we could express ourselves, coming up with our own work, all from scratch!"
  • "This was a real celebration of who we are, how we are different but have so much to share with each other"
  • "We've all come away with wider horizons"

COOLture was organised and supported by Hull City Council (Arts Development and Youth Development Service), in partnership with Music4U, and was a Creative Voice event. Creative Voice is Hull's youth arts development programme offering young people the opportunity to participate and progress in the arts with the opportunity to take part in workshops, performances, festivals, exhibitions and Arts Award. The COOLture Conversations project was made possible through the generous support of the National Foundation for Youth Music, Hull City Council, Hull Music Hub and the University of York.