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Leading composer creates and performs new music for London 2012 Cultural Olympiad with HMP Lowdham Grange prisoners

Published: 19 Jan 2012

Serco today plays host to leading composer Mark-Anthony Turnage as he premieres his new work for the London 2012 Cultural Olympiad, the largest cultural celebration in the history of the modern Olympic and Paralympic Movements, at HMP Lowdham Grange, Nottinghamshire. Turnage spent five days at the Serco-managed prison in December 2011 working with prisoners to compose 'Beyond This' as part of the PRS for Music Foundation's New Music 20x12 project.

PRS for Music Foundation is the UK's leading funder of new music across all genres. In partnership with the BBC, NMC Recordings and LOCOG, they have commissioned 20 of the UK's leading composers to create new music which captures the spirit of the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympics Games.

The unique collaboration between Turnage and HMP Lowdham Grange was delivered in partnership with The Irene Taylor Trust 'Music in Prisons', the only prison organisation to be awarded a commission for the Cultural Olympiad celebrations.

'Music in Prisons' was inaugurated in 1995 in memory of Lady Taylor, the wife of the late Lord Chief Justice Peter Taylor. It delivers creative music projects designed to provide positive experiences and help in the process of rehabilitation, education and the forming of life skills. Over the past 16 years, the organisation has delivered over 200 creative music interventions in prisons across the country, working directly with over 2,300 men, women and young people.

Fifteen prisoners from HMP Lowdham Grange were selected to participate in the project and assist Turnage in writing, orchestrating and recording a stimulating, 12-minute piece of music which includes a band, spoken/sung words and a small choir. During today's premiere, nine will perform in the band and the other six prisoners as part of the choir.

Mark-Anthony Turnage said: "People must see that music can change people - in my other prison work I saw how passionate the prisoners got about it and sometimes I felt quite humbled by this. I hope the audience will take away the joy we have had making it and will take a more positive view of what is quite often a very negative situation. Of course I hope the prisoners will embrace the newness and excitement of it all and remember it for the rest of their sentences and beyond."

Gareth Sands, Director at HMP Lowdham Grange said: "We are proud to be part of this unique collaboration. Music can be powerful vehicle for change and this ambitious project has helped to encourage innovation, creative thinking and group collaboration among our prisoners, as well as help build their confidence and self-esteem, all of which can help with their rehabilitation and reduce their likelihood of reoffending."

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Sara Lee, Artistic Director Music in Prisons said: "Mark wanted 'Beyond This' to be a real collaborative effort, from getting the prisoners' input in writing the work through to their involvement in the performance. The project challenges commonly held beliefs about people currently serving time and shows how music can be a powerful tool for transforming lives, helping prisoners to improve their communication skills, raise their self-confidence and give them a more positive view of the future with the knowledge of what they're capable of when given the opportunity."

Vanessa Reed, Executive Director, PRS for Music Foundation said: "One of the aims of New Music 20x12 is to enable a broader range of people to get involved in the process of creating music. There is no better context than 2012 to support music that changes lives and we are delighted that Mark-Anthony Turnage is bringing his experience of composing with prisoners to our Cultural Olympiad programme."

Each of the 20 New Music 20x12 commissions will be performed across one weekend in July (13-15 July 2012) at London's Southbank Centre as part of a wider exploration of composing new music. BBC Radio 3 will broadcast each commission - including 'Beyond This' - between April and August 2012 and recordings will be available from NMC Recordings.


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