Major city-wide music project launches its second year


Following its first successful year, the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire, part of Birmingham City University, has announced details of Year 2 of for-Wards a major large-scale city-wide music project celebrating Birmingham’s diverse communities.

Commencing in October 2017 in 24 wards across six districts, six specially commissioned professional composers with Birmingham connections will collaborate with participants from 24 community groups.

Royal Birmingham Conservatoire

Birmingham City University

Participants will be asked to share stories and experiences from their own community through a series of music workshops with their selected composer. They will be invited to go out into their own community to record sounds and conversations reflecting their own working and living environment. 

Themes from these stories will be used to compose six unique quality art compositions which will culminate in live public performances in each of the six Districts – Yardley, Hall Green, Sutton, Ladywood, Erdington and Perry Barr, in June 2018.


for-Wards Year 2 is in partnership with mac birmingham, Hare and Hounds, Access to Music, Flatpack Projects, Wassifa CIC, Kalaboration and Birmingham Contemporary Music Group, who each selected the six composers.

For Year 2, the partnership have brought together a world class group of composers who will spread their exciting mix of musical styles across the six wards. There include electroacoustic composer, sound artist and performer Annie Mahtani; songwriter and composer Grandmaster Gareth, who runs eight-piece band Misty’s Big Adventure, as well as releasing solo-albums; Dubstep guru Pøgman, who is cementing his place in dubstep with tours in Canada and Australia; Handsworth-born Jazz saxophonist Xhosa Cole, part of the established legacy of Birmingham jazz saxophonists founded by Andy Hamilton; Scott Johannsson, a Birmingham-based visual artist and musician and member of the group LARVA; and producer and writer Simon Duggall, who has written in a variety of genres for artists including Shania Twain, Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan and The Beat.

“Musical ode to the city”

Professor Julian Lloyd Webber, Principal of the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire said:

“The Royal Birmingham Conservatoire relishes the opportunity to create, perform and advance music-making together with local communities. We are particularly delighted that we have so many local professional composers who will share their own expertise with so many residents over the coming months.   

“for-Wards truly is a unique project for the city of Birmingham, its scale and ambition in creating a musical ode to the city is staggering! We look forward to hearing the stories, found sounds and live performances of each of the six brand-new compositions in June 2018.”

for-Wards is the brain-child of the project’s Artistic Director, Bobbie-Jane Gardner, a Birmingham-based composer and musician who studied at Royal Birmingham Conservatoire and is one of the rising stars of the city’s growing music scene.

Bobbie-Jane Gardner, Creative Director, said:

“for-Wards has now entered its second and final year, it's flown by and it's been a ridiculously amazing experience, it's been a lot of hard-work but worth every sleepless night! This project is all about people coming together to share stories and make quality sounds representing this diverse city.

Birmingham’s music stars

Birmingham is a hot-bed for music and boasts an envious list of musicians and groups including Duran Duran, UB40, Laura Mvula, Joan Armatrading, Black Sabbath, Andy Hamilton, The Twang, Ruby Turner, Birmingham Opera Company and the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra (CBSO).

Commenting on Year 1, participants from Martineau Gardens Group, Edgbaston added:

“We recorded sounds that reflected our community from rain-drops on leaves, to birds singing, traffic moving and even lumps of wood being stacked. To hear music we helped to create was a very moving experience and almost brought us to tears.  The way the composer just brought it altogether in one sound blew us away.”

for-Wards is kindly funded by Royal Birmingham Conservatoire, part of Birmingham City University, PRSF, mac birmingham, Hare and Hounds, Access to Music, Flatpack Projects, Wassifa CIC, Kalaboration, Birmingham Contemporary Music Group, The Feeney Trust, Birmingham City Council, Arts Council England and PledgeMusic supporters.

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