The RPO and Cambridge Live recently teamed up with The Phoenix Centre – a specialised eating disorder unit for young people aged 12-18 based at the Ida Darwin Hospital in Cambridge to deliver a creative music-making project. Since February a team of RPO musicians and workshop leader Sigrún Sævarsdóttir-Griffiths have been visiting the centre to work with young people currently receiving treatment. The project aimed to improve mental health, encourage self-exploration and boost confidence through creativity, and included elements of poetry and lyric writing, guided group improvisation and composition.

Participants created brand new pieces of music expressing their feelings about their lives and the challenges they face. Throughout the process they were introduced to Corn Exchange Artist-in-Residence Esther Yoo and Composer-in-Residence Jay Richardson, who has since composed his new piece, Here I Go, directly inspired by the young people’s own compositions.

“I’ve been very lucky to join the musical journeys which have taken place at the Phoenix Centre over the past few months. Here I Go develops some of the themes—musical, poetic and emotional—that arose from group workshops at the Centre. Throughout the piece, you will hear direct musical quotations of the new ideas that we created during these workshops.

More than just a development of musical ideas, however, Here I Go is inspired by the amazing young people of the Phoenix Centre. The piece is named after a work, by an incredibly talented young poet at the Centre, which helped me throughout the process of composition. I am very grateful to have been able to work with these inspiring words as well as with musical material from our workshops. I very much hope that Here I Go does justice to the wonderful creativity and resourcefulness of all the people who helped me create it.” – Jay Richardson, Corn Exchange Composer-in-Residence

The partners gratefully acknowledge the grant received from the Mills & Reeve Cambridge Community Fund and ARM Cambridge Community Fund, charitable funds managed by Cambridgeshire Community Foundation, to help make this project possible. Additional funding was provided by ARM, an anonymous donor, the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and Cambridge Live. The partners wish to thank Esther Yoo, Jay Richardson, Sigrún Sævarsdóttir-Griffiths, Dr Kate Gee, The Phoenix Centre and Cambridgeshire & Peterborough NHS Foundation Trust, The Pilgrim PRU and all the donors for their support.

This short animated film about the project, created by Cambridge FilmWorks, was first screened at the RPO’s concert at the Cambridge Corn Exchange on Saturday, 5th May 2018 alongside the premier of Jay Richardson’s composition Here I Go.

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