The Leeds announces learning, engagement and community projects

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The Leeds International Piano Competition has announced details of two new learning, engagement and community projects.

The projects, which aim to deepen the Competition’s roots in the local community while engaging and exciting new audiences with the piano, are as follows:

  • A Historic Sheet Music project, supported by the National Lottery Heritage Fund, to bring community closer to historic sheet music held by Marks & Spencer Company Archive
  • Skylar’s Missing Note, a collaboration with Manic Chord Theatre and Leeds Music Education Partnership, which will reach over 1,500 primary schoolchildren across Leeds

Historic Sheet Music project

The Leeds has secured a grant of £7,100 from the National Lottery Heritage Fund to support a partnership project with the Marks & Spencer’s Company Archive, which aims to bring the local community closer to its collection of historic sheet music.

Housed in the Michael Marks Building at the University of Leeds, the Marks & Spencer’s Company Archive contains over 71,000 items dating from 1884 to the present day, comprising written, photographic and digital records of the company’s development and artefacts representing key aspects of its activities.

Sheet music was a bestselling product at Marks & Spencer during the 1910s and 1920s and many stores would have had a pianist on the shop floor. This will be documented with a temporary public exhibition within the Company Archive – including recordings, photographs and original archive material – between January and March 2020. Members of the public will be able to try their hand at playing from the sheet music in the collection, using a piano installed in the Archive.

In addition, the project will work with Leeds City Council’s Complex Needs provision in eight weekly sessions, commencing in September 2019, during which participants will discover the varied genres of piano music within the collection, including marching songs, folk songs, operatic overtures and parlour music. After the eight weeks, participants will curate mini-recitals, including accessible programme notes, at three care/community settings in Leeds.

Students from the University of Leeds – a principal partner of the Competition – will record pieces from the Archive to be used in the sessions and ten of these recordings will be kept and maintained within the Archive permanently. The recordings, along with the participants’ programme notes, will also be available digitally for adult learning and community groups in the UK.

Skylar’s Missing Note

Expanding on its previous school-based work, The Leeds is also announcing a new primary school project.

Skylar’s Missing Note, a touring music and theatre experience in collaboration with Leeds-based Manic Chord Theatre and supported by Leeds Music Education Partnership and Arts Council England, will take over 1,500 Key Stage 1 pupils (ages 5-7) in 20 schools on an adventure with the main character, Skylar, whose piano has lost its middle C key during a house move.

The immersive piece of storytelling will introduce pupils to the piano in an engaging way as well as enhancing the music curriculum. Pupils will have access to pre- and post-activity resources and participate in an interactive workshop following the performance.

Learning & Engagement with The Leeds

Jenny Rogers, Learning and Engagement Director at the Leeds International Piano Competition, said:

‘The Leeds International Piano Competition is delighted to be announcing these two new projects within our Learning & Engagement programme, which we know will connect with new audiences and introduce them to the delights of the piano.

‘We are thrilled to be working in partnership with these incredible organisations to create trailblazing new activities which authentically engage communities with the piano.

‘This new work continues our commitment to championing access and enjoyment of the piano for all […] to ensure The Leeds evolves to be so much more than a music competition.’

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