I really enjoyed getting the chance to be the musical director for Verity-Jane Keefe’s Banjo on the Banjo piece. The Becontree Estate in Dagenham has these unique banjo shaped cul de sacs which the locals call banjos. It’s not unusual in Dagenhem to hear people say they live on a banjo.
Verity’s idea was to have a banjo player performing simultaneously on every one the hundred banjos in Becontree in a grand celebration of the Dagenham and banjos. I was asked to compose the piece and teach local people to play the banjo over just five weekly workshops.
It was such a fun and exciting challenge to come up with a piece that was easy enough to play for beginners to learn but also could sound exciting fo the other banjos player who came along. In the end I opted for a three part piece using lots of chromatic lines that could actually be played with just one finger on the left hand if necessary. The parts were made so they could be played sequentially or all at one over lapping into a thick sonic banjo soundscape.
After the individual performances we all gathered in Parslose Park for big group performance! The people I met in Dagenham were so great and it was just a wonderful project combining a great artistic vision with music and community.